Jamal Lewis Free On Bail, Handcuffed By Steelers D - By Neal Coolong
Steelers Fever Exclusive Editorial
|St. Paul, MN. - Ahh yes...I love the smell of victory in the morning. I arrived at the Starting Gate in St. Paul, Minn., at 11:15 a.m. Sunday to find it rather crowded, considering it's 45 minutes to kickoff, and Shannon Sharpe is highly visible on TV. But hey, it's the Ravens. It's the Modern Day Rivalry of the AFC North. Forget the Browns and Bengals, this division is all about Pittsburgh and Baltimore. And the key Ravens players managed to stay UN-arrested before the game. Hey! Congratulations, guys!
12:45 P.M. - Roethlisberger is still wearing that glove. Is it just me and SteelersBro, or does that bother anyone else? I watched a playoff game back in the day where Joe Montana (with the Chiefs) wore a glove for a quarter, threw an interception and took it off. Ben's thrown too many of those lately. Let's just get rid of it, ok?
12:58 P.M. - For such a widely anticipated game, CBS has graced us with its G-list broadcasters Gus Johnson and Brent Jones. Seriously, were Bill Walsh and George Foreman busy? That Bengals/Giants game isn't that far away…
1:02 P.M. - Anyone reading this right now think Flight of the Phoenix is going to be a good movie? Anyone? Hello?
1:07 P.M. - Larry Foote gets some pressure on QB Kyle Boller. Looking at the team over the last few weeks, knowing they haven't had a sack in the last two games, Foote seems to be the only guy getting to the quarterback on middle blitzes. This means two things to me; 1. We need to get Joey Porter and Troy Polamalu in on more pass rushing downs, and not keep them in so much coverage. 2. I have all but forgotten about Kendrell Bell.
1:10 P.M. - This is the mark of the end of a strong run of Baltimore defense. I love the guy and all, but if Jerome Bettis can get outside as often as he is on the Ravens linebackers, they have lost at least one step.
1:11 P.M. - Roethlisberger back to pass…looking deep down the right sideline…It's Burress! Touchdown! Plex is back! You don't know what you got 'til it's gone. A deep threat is going to make this offense nearly unstoppable going into the playoffs.
1:13 P.M. - SteelersBro and I settled down long enough to catch the tail end of the trailer for Coach Carter. Samuel L. Jackson plays Coach Carter, a high school basketball coach in California who locks his team out for several games after some of them didn't make the grades they all agreed to in a contract at the beginning of the season. Now he's the coach of a Slam Ball team. Why does this deserve a movie, again? I looked on the web site, but no, it's a real movie. I fully expected to see cameos of Reggie Theus and Dick Butkis a la Hang Time, but I didn't even get that. Lame…
1:23 P.M. - Boller is a great quarterback as long as he doesn't have to complete a pass longer than three yards. Jamal Lewis scores from a few yards out.
1:34 P.M. - Let's make some kind of award in the NFL. Let's give it to a player who performs the best when brought in as a replacement for injury, suspension, trials, etc. Honor the player who can come in, play above his ability and even exceed the guy he is replacing.
Ladies and gentlemen…the recipient of the 2004 Neal Coolong Award for the NFL's most outstanding Step-Up player goes to….Steelers linebacker James Harrison!
Is there anyone who has out-performed him play-for-play this season? This guy's a freak! I mean, you describe Harrison's play, and you suddenly turn into Kyle Reese from Terminator. "He ABSOLUTELY WILL NOT STOP!" I like Clark Haggans and all, but he hasn't played like Harrison did in the first quarter all season. Then again, I don't even think Porter has. Just spectacular!
1:41 P.M. - I don't know what's more amazing, the fact that Bettis seems to be getting younger with every carry, or that I didn't see one CSI commercial until two minutes into the second quarter. You tell me.
2:01 P.M. - This is the thing I love the most about having someone the likes of Roethlisberger under center. Every game I watch, he comes up with the best play I've ever seen him make. This game, he's rolling left away from pressure, sidesteps a tackle and delivers the ball at the speed of a Randy Johnson fastball to Plex down the field. Unbelievable. "With the 11th pick in the 2004 draft…the Steelers select quarterback Ben Roethlisberger from Miami, Ohio." I still love saying it in my head.
2:02 P.M. - Typical Ravens patronage. Bettis puts his face mask right in Ray Lewis' chest and pushes him back for seven more yards. We don't get to hear "what a strong runner Bettis is." No, we get "Well, Lewis does have an injured wrist." What player isn't injured at this point in the season? Give credit where credit's due.
2:15 P.M. - Antwaan Randle-El is the biggest "ALRIGHT-NO!!!" player in the league. A one-handed snare for a first down, followed by a fumble. "ALRIGHT-NO!!!"
2:55 P.M. - Halftime comes and goes, and Pittsburgh comes out with what will be the difference in the game, and perhaps bring a Super Bowl back to Pittsburgh; the Steelers ran RIGHT over the highly touted Ravens defense, ending with a Jerame Tuman touchdown pass from Roethlisberger. Just dominated them up front. It wasn't very fitting to throw the ball at the two like they did, but points are more important than making a point. I would have much rather seen Bettis take it in, but oh well…
3:05 P.M. - Okay, here's the thing. Porter knocks Todd Heap down when Heap is hurt, and the football world freaks out. No flag was thrown. Terrell Suggs gets flagged for a late-hit that took Roethlisberger out of the game, and he is heralded for "just playing football."
3:15 P.M. - yes yes…let's talk some more about how the Ravens knocked Tommy Maddox out of the game the first time they played, and how they just took Roethlisberger out of the game…I guess you just can't get enough of that.
3:43 P.M. - Hey, we don't need Roethlisberger. Maddox can hand off just fine. Reed field goal, this one's over, baby!
3:57 P.M. - 20-7. Home field advantage. Beating the Ravens. Having basically two bye weeks in a row. Images of 2001 are creeping into my head, so I'm trying to fight that off. Either way, it was arguably the most dominating all-around performance the Steelers have had all season.
Will it get better? I dunno, but it's going to take more than a touchdown record or last year's Super Bowl ring to beat the Steelers at home.