Photo via Steelers.com/Karl Rosen
By Ivan Cole
Unlike Rebecca I saw the game in real time. These are the things that impressed me about this performance:
Rebecca and some others might have not have understood my comments in a previous post about Pittsburgh lacking a certain quality of meanness. I think this is because we often conflate ‘mean’ with ‘dirty’. This is, I believe, the Bengal’s fatal flaw. Cincinnati, as usual, was the dirtier team. Pittsburgh was the meaner team. What the highlights did not adequately convey was, despite the closeness of the score, how thoroughly the Steelers beat the Bengals up. The difference could be most clearly seen when comparing the play and effectiveness of Vance McDonald, who connects with Ben Roethlisberger through Bible studies and cancer survivor James Connor with that of Vontaze Burfict. Burfict played dirty. McDonald and Connor played mean. The result was a parade of Bengal players forced to the sideline, the locker room, and concussion protocol without roughness or unsportsmanlike penalties, while, despite threats and Cincinnati’s best efforts, the Steelers came through relatively unscathed. Read more
Photo via Steelers.com/Karl Rosen
These thoughts are not deep. That would be difficult, being as I couldn’t actually watch the game. They were garnered as I watched the highlight reel a couple of times.
There is one small factor which makes them slightly more valuable than my thoughts for many weeks previous—I can now actually see reasonably well out of both my eyes. It seems to me this ups the validity of my musings at least a little. (In case you’re wondering, I had cataract surgery on Tuesday. I have what they call “young person’s cataracts,” which is a nice way of saying “you’re old but not quite ancient.”)
So here they are, in no particular order:
- Vance MacDonald has a lot of competition, but he may be my new favorite Steeler. How fitting it was that the first guy he took out on his little 29-yard scamper would be Vontaze Burfict. Another contender for my favorite, James Conner, put some hurt on Burfict himself, or he perhaps would have lost his place in line this week.
- Why would any defensive coach in his right mind leave AB uncovered? Not that I’m complaining.
- In his post-game conference, Ben said “What a great game!” about James Conner, and went on to say “I know it’s his last game, with Le’Veon coming back and all,” and that it was nice for James to have a game like this as his last one. The assembled media got a good laugh out of that. But it made me think how lucky the Steelers are that such statements are jokes—that the team isn’t hanging on desperately to hope that Le’Veon really will return this week. (No one, as far as I know, really knows when or if he will come back, perhaps even including Le’Veon.)
- A bull in a china shop is a scary image. A bull in a china closet is just weird. Sometimes the broadcasters should think before they speak…
- I didn’t know that volleyball was approved by the NFL, but there it was, two Bengals defenders batting the ball right to Ben, who said “Thank you very much” and took it across the line of scrimmage. Very entertaining.
- What was with the Dr. Jeckell/Mr. Hyde special teams? Last week they were awesome; this week they sucked. A “foolish consistency” may be the “hobgoblin of small minds,” (an appropriate thought as Hallowe’en approaches) but I happily agree to be considered small-minded if special teams will agree to be consistent. Preferably consistently good.
- Another Steelers/Bengals game, another cheap shot by Vontaze Burfict. As one of the local writers put it, if T.J. Watt was fined $20,000 for his “hit” on Matt Ryan’s “knee,” (emphasis mine), Burfict should be fined approximately $7,000,000,000 for his after-the-whistle elbow-to-the-head on AB. Personally, I think Burfict needs to be protected from himself. A nice long suspension—say 15 years—ought to do it.
- I did follow the last three minutes or so of the game on the NFL site, and was tempted to repine when the Bengals scored. However, several things gave me hope: 1) the Steelers had all of their time outs, 2) there was still more than a minute, and 3) Cato, the fair-weather Steelers fan who leaves the room when the Steelers are losing too badly, came and sat on my lap for the final minute of the game. Phew!
Well, folks, I’m getting the other eye done in a week and a half, so for the first game after the bye I should be seeing on all cylinders, to coin a not-very-useful phrase. Hopefully I can actually watch the whole thing. That would be a treat. In the meantime, do check out the video on Steelers.com of Ryan Shazier visiting the hospital he was taken to last December. It is very touching. And it is way more important than football.
Photo via Steelers.com
That would be the Steelers, not me, who are back in the saddle. I’m just approaching the stable, at best. But I did manage to carve out enough time to watch the game today, by dint of recording it, beginning to watch when it was half over, and jumping through all of the commercials and even eventually the time between plays. I must say I picked a good game to watch. Today’s game, at least if I believe what I have read in fits and starts about the other games this season, is surely the closest thing to a complete game in all phases the Steelers have played in 2018. (That would definitely be counting The Playoff Game Which Shall Not Be Named.)
Photo via Steelers.com
By Ivan Cole
A Friendly Reminder
Watching the Steelers during the first quarter of the 2018 season has been a dispiriting experience. That being said, let me remind you of points made in the season preview and elsewhere which warn about the weight that is placed on early season performances. Off the top of my head, here are some of narratives that we have been treated to over the course of the first month of the season:
- After a loss to Jacksonville, the New England Patriots were declared washed up They have, as of this writing, won their past two games, including an impressive win over the, then, undefeated Miami Dolphins.
- Based upon that same performance, the Jaguars were anointed a beast in the AFC. The following week they managed to score all of three points against Tennessee.
- Beware the Ravens after they thumped Buffalo in the season opener, then promptly went to Cincinnati and lost.
- The Bills, after being slaughtered in their first two games, were declared the worst team ever, and then they went to Minnesota.
- With quarterback Jamais Winston suspended for the first three games Tampa Bay was supposed to be in deep doo-doo. Not.
- Philadelphia is going to cruise right back to the Super Bowl.
- The Steelers looked bad against Kansas City, and how good could the Chiefs possibly be?
- The New York Jets are on their way!
- The Steelers are toast. Fire everybody.