Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The Stache Report: Dolphins vs. Steelers

That game was horrible last night, so this will be a little short.

- A couple of weeks ago, I wrote the following in a Stache report:

“A new surface is needed. Hopefully, on a national TV game against the Dolphins on a Monday night in two weeks, the field will be in such horrible shape that either the NFL demands the grass be replaced, or the Rooneys are so embarrassed by it that it leaves them with no choice. That same weekend, four WPIAL championship games will be played on Friday, as well as a Pitt game on Saturday. So imagine what the field will look like by Monday night.”

Well, looks like I got what I asked for. The new sod, combined with the torrential downpour, caused an absolute embarrassment on national TV. FieldTurf, or something close to it, needs to be installed at Heinz Field. If you’re planning to have the WPIAL championships at your venue, as well as a college team playing every other weekend or so, natural grass is not going to hold up. Words are not enough to describe how bad the field conditions were.

- I’ve been okay with Bruce Arians this season, for the most part. Yesterday was not one of those days. How many times can you run the ball on first and second down? Would it kill you to throw a pass on first down? I don’t want to hear that the weather conditions were not conducive to passing the ball, either. Ben threw the ball just fine, completing 86% of his passes.

- On another note, the decision to try a 45-yard field goal was asinine. It’s hard enough to make a 45-yarder in Heinz under normal conditions. To do so on that field, in those conditions, is pretty much impossible. Can’t fault Jeff Reed for that one.

- Around the 3rd quarter, I sent a mass text message to my fellow Doubt About It contributors. My sentiments were blunt: “We fucking blow.” Upon reflection, I may have been a bit harsh and just got caught up in the frustrating nature of this particular game. But I was still disappointed that we let an 0-10 team hang around that long. I understand the conditions were conducive to a close, conservative football game. Still, to get into the opponent’s territory 9 times, and only come out with 3 points? Let’s just say I’m a little skeptical as to how far this team can really go in the playoffs.

- Big game coming up against the Bengals. They’ll have some extra skill players they didn’t have in the last meeting. Chris Henry is back, and he caused all sorts of problems last season for the Steelers. Rudi Johnson also has returned. He missed the last contest. The Bengals have won at Heinz the last two seasons, so they’ll be coming in with a lot of confidence, fresh off a dominating win against the Titans. Say what you will about the Cincinnati defense, but that offense is fully capable of putting enough points to win the game by themselves. The Steelers offense cannot have another lackluster showing, as they have the past two weeks. They need to come out and punch the Bengals in the mouth, because as we’ve seen the last two weeks, desperate teams with nothing to lose who are allowed to hang around will pull out all the stops to win a game. The Stache will be in the house for this one, so let’s hope I don’t jinx the Steelers with my presence.

- We are characterized as a “Pittsburgh Sports Blog”, but every now and then a sports story comes out that’s just too big to ignore. Such is the case with the passing of Redskins safety Sean Taylor. Like everybody, I was hopeful for a recovery upon the news last night that he was showing some minor responses. I woke up this morning and shockingly read the grim news, feeling a pit in my stomach. Personally, I always admired Taylor and considered him one of the best safeties in the game. A guy who would strike fear into wide receivers with his ability to lay the wood, but also a guy who had a knack for making the big play. In a lot of ways, one of my favorite defensive players on the Steelers, Anthony Smith, reminds me of him. Many felt he would become one of the best safeties to ever play the game. It’s sad that most of the media has been quick to point out Taylor’s past transgressions as a way of explaining his murder. The truth of the matter is, we don’t know exactly what happened. All accounts are that he had turned his life around, and was becoming a trusted friend and teammate, and loving father. For the media to immediately jump to conclusions (read: Michael Wilbon) that this was the result of his “thug” life, rather than just mourn his passing just struck me the wrong way. But perhaps that’s why I felt a little bit down today. This was a guy who by all appearances had turned his life around, but in the end just may not have been able to ultimately get by his past demons. I guess that’s life, though. Ben Roethlisberger was this close to dying last summer, and he has come back to become one of the best players in the National Football League. Sadly, Sean Taylor won’t get that chance. I can’t imagine the grief and sorrow his family, friends, and teammates are experiencing. Rest in peace, Sean.

End of Post

1 comment:

Tom Clark said...

I know we stalled before hitting the red zone, but at least 2 times it was due to dumb penalties. Heath Miller negated two first downs with two holding penalties. If we score a TD on one of those possessions and a FG on the other, 13 points looks respectable given the conditions.

Plus, Porter brought up a good point about Willie's speed being reduced on the turf. The general problem with the Dolphins defense is age, and I can't think of a bigger attribute that reduces more as you get older than speed. The slop that is Heinz Field equalized everyone, allowing those old guys to look 25 again.