Monday, February 7, 2011
ABOVE: As seen from outer space, today a gigantic black hole is sucking the life out of the entire Pittsburgh area into "God knows where".
Just as every other Steeler fan who watched SuperBowl XLCDII2 or whatever the hell number it was, today we all have one thing in mind: Escaping the gigantic black hole that now threatens to destroy all of us.
As Steeler fans we don't accept losing easily. To describe it even more succinctly, losing for us is tantamount to a complete disaster, to be avoided at any cost. But I must admit that for as confident as I had felt prior to this game, that confidence came leaking out as though there was a two foot hole in a hot air balloon during that awful "Aguilera Anthem" that we all had to endure. The sight of seeing seasoned veteran, Hines Ward, hyperventilating was a little more than I could take. I was half expecting him to keel over. This was the time that was supposed to be our advantage! Our guys had been there before! Was this a sign that subconsciously the Steelers were already fearing the worst? Methinks so.
You already know what happened in this game, I'm not going to bore you with another blow-by-blow-by-blow recap, but I'm basically going to take a different approach to this story through actual pictures that were not cleared by the NFL. As everyone in the free world already knows, we basically beat ourselves, much the same as Neil O'Donnell did in SperBowl XXX with two interceptions and a killing fumble. These plays can best be described through the photos below.
ABOVE: Ben Roethlisberger's arm is hit as he throws to Mike Wallace. We all know what happened next: Pick six.
ABOVE: Ben forces a pass to Mike Wallace in tight coverage. After this second interception, four plays later the black & gold found themselves down 21-3
If there's one thing that was reinforced during this game though, it's that the Steelers never quit, no matter how deep of a hole they may dig for themselves. Another image that was further reinforced is that Pittsburgh fans have unquenchable thirsts, especially on the South Side at the many fine establishments there...
ABOVE: Trailing 21-10 at the half, Steeler fans stepped up their drinking by hijacking a beer truck in the hopes that their collective inebriated state would somehow transfer itself to Aaron Rodgers. In theory a fun idea, but it didn't work. This is the aftermath of that beer orgy.
As I said earlier, the Steelers are not quitters. In the second half they came out smoking and stuffed the Packers, following it up with a Rashard Mendenhall ten yard touchdown run. However, for Mendenhall, who had become a solid ball carrier this year, he chose a most inopportune time to have the most disastrous play of his career.
The Steelers had stopped the Packers yet again and their momentum was threatening to take them all the way back into the lead. It was turning into a comeback of historic proportions. On second and two and just after an eight yard run, the third quarter ended. The Steelers had the ball on the Green Bay 40 with a full head of momentum. The first play of the quarter, unfortunately, was not good. That last sentence could best be described as an "understatement".
ABOVE: Rashard Mendenhall's fumble was the turning point in this game. It was enough to send many despondent fans over the side of the Westinghouse Bridge.
BELOW: Casualties were not confined to human beings. A television, set up for Pittsburgh Zoo workers was unfortunately observed by this pacyderm. The end result was not pretty.
While the Steelers then fell behind 28-17 on a Rodgers pass to Jennings, to their credit, these guys weren't about to go quietly into the night. Mike Wallace would score on a 25 yard touchdown pass, capped by a two point conversion scored by Antwaan Randle-El on a "wishbone-type" option play.
Amazingly, the Steelers were now only down by a field goal. They were now starting to resemble this guy:
ABOVE: Yes, it's the "T-1000" from "Terminator 2". Try as Arnold would, he just couldn't kill this guy.
On the very next possession, the Steelers defense, in a position to get the ball back, had Aaron Rodgers just where they wanted him. With the ball on his own 25 and facing a third and ten, Rodgers, the eventual MVP, did what MVPs do:
ABOVE: Heartbroken again, this time by a 30 yard completion to Grant Jennings, Aaron Rodgers sliced the Steelers secondary up for another big gain. The man is truly ruthless.
To their stubborn credit...again....the Steelers managed to force the Packers to successfully kick a 23 yard field goal, leaving them with a six point lead, 31-25, and a full two minutes to work for Big Ben. These two teams had been considered so close, was it possible that the Steelers could pull out another amazing finish and win by a single point?
There were three reasons why this ultimately would not happen. The Steelers had squandered two timeouts earlier in the half. This in itself comprised two cardinal sins for a SuperBowl game. Then there was Keyaron Fox. His bonehead personal foul penalty on the ensuing kickoff was completely unacceptable, especially for a team captain. Fox took this same unnecessary roughness penalty in another game earlier this season. With the SuperBowl on the line, it is inconceivable that a shove could have really been worth it to him at that moment.
ABOVE: Keyaron Fox demonstrates another personality flaw in an earlier game this season, celebrating over a helpless Carolina Panther.
So after Fox's idiocy, the Steelers now had to start at their 12 yard line. A pass to Heath Miller moved it to the 25. Hines then caught a pass for four yards followed by a throwaway and then two incompletions to Mike Wallace...and that was the ballgame, as they say.
Mike Tomlin, obviously very hot over this loss and more abrupt than normal was nonetheless gracious to the Packers in defeat. "Usually when you lose it's because of penalties and turnovers...But we're not about making excuses...ever. Our hat is off to the Green Bay Packers. They made enough plays today, we didn't."
For Pittsburgh fans their only option today is to register for disaster assistance while dealing at the same time with a classic case of football withdrawl. It's not going to be fun living in Pittsburgh until the draft. Maybe, if we can get some offensive line help and a couple defensive backs, we'll be able to look forward to next season. But with Evgeni Malkin out for the year and Sidney Crosby dealing with a concussion in Nova Scotia, it might be a long winter. We may have to pin all of our winter hopes on the Pitt basketball Panthers. Maybe Pitt can reverse their NCAA fortunes this time...
ABOVE: Thanks to some quick thinking by the mayor, Pittsburgh today opened an office of "Disaster Recovery".