Long time blog subscribers will know that I am a die-hard Pittsburgh Steelers football fan. It goes back to the days of the Immaculate Reception, and continued through six Super Bowl championships.
But recently, being a Steelers fan also means feeling a bit snakebitten. That moment when you look at the schedule and you say, “Oh crap, we’re playing these teams in a row, that’s going to hurt our chances for a playoff spot, and if we do win in the regular season against them, we’re looking at facing them – possibly in their stadium – in the playoffs.”
Yeah. And Steelers fans know the names of those teams. The big one, of course, is that crew of Massholes up the Turnpike. Yep. The New England Patriots. You know how many nightmares I’ve had of Tom Brady throwing touchdowns all over the place and costing us Super Bowl appearances? Too many.
And then there’s the Denver Broncos. The one time Tim F’n Tebow throws a quality pass in his NFL career… and it happens in 2011 – in overtime – and puts a dagger in our black and gold hearts.
Last year, a third demon came to haunt the Steelers – the Jacksonville Jaguars. Suddenly Blake Bortles and Leonard Fournette tore through our defenses as if they the recreation of Bo Jackson in Tecmo Bowl. Argh.
And it doesn’t help that no matter how hard we play against the rest of the NFL, once we see these opponents, our quarterback suddenly reverts into a kid who just stumbled out of a Pop Warner match.
Yesterday … that queasy feeling came over me as I watched Pittsburgh visit the Jacksonville Jaguars for a regular season game. I didn’t care that the Steelers were already 6-2-1 on the season and would be the #2 seed in the AFC if the playoffs started tomorrow.
The playoffs don’t start tomorrow, they start two months from now. Two long agonizing months.
And in the first half, our quarterback tossed interception after interception. He threw a pick into the end zone, for Christ sakes. As the first half ended, Jacksonville was in the lead 16-0, and I was looking for stuffed animals to toss at my flatscreen.
Come on, guys, we need a spark. Toss something to Antonio Brown. Toss something to Juju Smith-Schuster. Give the ball to James Conner and let him power out 100 yards. Hell, switch quarterbacks and give Josh Dobbs or Mason Rudolph some playing time. Anything.
And then … as the second half commenced … the Steelers showed signs of life. A touchdown pass and scamper to Antonio Brown. Another touchdown pass, this time to Vance McDonald.
And in the final seconds, with the ball and so close to the end zone you could smell the painted grass…
Our quarterback took the ball, did an end-around, and broke the plane of the end zone just as he was being tackled.
Game winning walk-off touchdown.
And with that, my Pittsburgh Steelers have moved to 7-2-1, and they can still catch Kansas City for the #1 AFC seed and home-field advantage throughout the NFL playoffs.
And with that touchdown by our quarterback, the Steelers shook off one chain that held our mighty black and gold off.
This is important. We not only need quality wins, we need them against those demons of the past to secure our future.
Next week … we get to face Denver. And I don’t care if Tim Tebow’s not on the Broncos any more. He’s still a part of their legacy. He’s the reason we didn’t get to the Super Bowl in 2011.
And I hope that Antonio Brown, Juju Smith-Schuster, James Conner, the whole defensive line, the toe of Chris Boswell and our quarterback can take this chain off our backs as well.
After that … it’s time to face the Massholes.
Yoi and double yoi.