Friday, February 17, 2006

Reset the Game Clock to 26 Years



On January 20, 1980, the Pittsburgh Steelers hoisted their fourth Vince Lombardi trophy, capping off an unprecedented run through National Football League immortality. I was three months shy of my second birthday, and my parents had just welcomed by little brother to this Black and Gold world only eight days before. Winning pennants, clinching divisions, home-field advantage, World Series championships, Super Bowl championships, these are the things to which the City of Pittsburgh had grown accustomed.

My only recollection of Super Bowl XIV comes from grainy video clips compiled by NFL Films on that mild winter day in Pasadena, CA. Bradshaw passing for 309 yards, including a 73 yard bomb to Stallworth to take the lead for good. Harris punching it in from one yard out to seal the Rams' fate. I've been told I watched the game by both my mother and father, who also swear that I was decked out in my Steelers best that Super Sunday. I'll give my folks the benefit of the doubt, but I have no memory of any of these events transpiring.

I do remember Mark Malone, the do-all wunderkind that never quite panned out. I remember the "Mouth of the South" Bubby Brister, who's jersey number 6 was NOT a precursor of the astonishing number of touchdowns he threw as a Steelers quarterback (51 in 7 seasons). The lineman were filling their bodies with anabolic steroids, Tim Worley was putting the ball on the ground more than Larry Bird, and Weegie Thompson gained notoriety not for his ability to catch the football, but because his name was Weegie. But what I remember most is talk of a fading empire, and the portrait of an Emperor that looked old.

An infusion of youth came in the early 90's, when Chuck Noll retired and William Laird Cowher was hired to take the ballclub in a new direction. Prior to this season, Cowher's Steelers were much like the first love of your life. Your high school sweetheart that held the key to that door, able to unlock the mysteries of manhood to you with a single turn. In 1994, it was a halftime lead that deteriorated in the AFC Championship game, as the Steelers hopes were rebuffed when a Neil O'Donnell pass to Barry Foster at the goal line was knocked to the ground. We'd finally gotten intimate with the Steelers again, but we were quite a ways away from that ultimate goal.

Or were we? Maybe the passion brought about by this initial surge of intimacy was intoxicating, and we were closer than first believed. A Jim Harbaugh thrust to the endzone in the waning seconds of the 1995 AFC Championship Game landed on the hard, plastic turf of Three Rivers Stadium, and a sense of anticipation began to build as the Steelers advanced to Super Bowl XXX. Novices like myself believed we were already home free. But that door, and all of the wonderful mysteries behind it, would remained locked. We tried frantically, desperately to press onward...surprise onside kicks...inventive play calling. But it was no use. Our love was apprehensive, and it was simply not yet our time.

That interest only intensified over the next nine years. We came full of excitement and left dejected and unsatisfied. 2004 was the worst. A team rallies behind its young, talented quarterback to post a record number of wins and victories over two very good, undefeated teams. The mood was absolutely right, and conditions were perfect. This feeling was overwhelming, as we bumbled and tremored our way towards sheer ecstasy. And when the time came to finally reap the benefits of this 13 year relationship, someone else came along and stole her heart away. Devastation has never been so devastating.

So the following year, with meager expectations further minimized by a three game losing streak to sit at 7-5, we began to try and pick up the pieces...make sense of our life. Victories against Chicago and in Minnesota had us feeling good about ourselves again. Taking this confidence for a test drive, we trounced Cleveland and escaped Detroit to come home and find this shy, unassuming girl next door.

Though the emotions were palpable, the excitement was tempered. It was easy to allow yourself to open up because of the feeling that though you couldn't possibly know where you were heading, everything would work out if it was meant to be. With little to lose and everything to gain, we invested our hearts and came away from the Queen City with a victory. But there was something left in the tank the following week, as we swept through the Circle City and began to fall in love. As we learned in the past, however, relationships are about overcoming obstacles. We needed to both figuratively and literally climb a mountain to get to a place that we had given up on long ago. And though we were able to climb the entire mile high, we were actually floating on cloud nine. We've never felt this way before.

As this overwhelming experience began, we were far less than steady. This combination of excitement and lack of experience initially precluded us from finding the appropriate rhythm. But as halftime loomed, a chance to collect ourselves, we found that daunting door ajar...waiting to be entered. The second half transpired, and it was full of some highlights and lowlights. The first time usually is. With the clock set to expire, exhausted from this long and trying journey, a climax was reached. IT had happened, and our lives would never be the same.

As I look back, I have only one regret. My son or daughter will be coming into this world around the time that the Pittsburgh Steelers are pulling into Latrobe to begin defense of their World Championship. I only hope that they don't have to wait until they are 27 years old to feel like this for the first time in their lives.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Super Bowl XL Photos



I'm trying to figure out how to put captions on them. But if you click on each picture, you can see it larger.

Congratulations to the Super Bowl XL World Champion Pittsburgh Steelers

Tuesday, February 07, 2006


SUPER BOWL XL CHAMPIONS
Steelers 21, Seahawks 10
JUST PLAIN SUPER
As Jim mentioned, we started this blog on December 15 before the Vikings game and since that point the Steelers have been 8-0 and won the Super Bowl. I was lucky enough to go and it was one of the most incredible days of my life. The picture above was from my seat around the 45-yard line and was taken just after the final seconds ticked away.
(It has taken me like an hour to write this because they keep playing the Hines Ward Disney commerical on the NFL network and it gives me chills. My favorite part is a little clip in the middle where he gets hit along the sideline and you can clearly see him SMILING even before he gets hit. That might be an enduring symbol for me because that's what the entire run seemed like---the players and even fans laughing and smiling through Cinci, Indy, Denver and Detroit, like we knew something that the rest of the country didn't. And we did.)
I'm going to save the details and analysis by our staff writers for later in the week. After the game, I stopped myself from trying to analyze the game (playcalling/Roethlisberger/etc.) and just enjoyed it. I plan to do that for the rest of the week.
There were very few places in the city of Detroit from Friday through Sunday that you couldn't start a "Here We Go Steelers" chant--hotels, bars, restaurants, casinos, buses and just out in the middle of the street--just start it and it would keep going. We ate at a great Steelers bar before the NFL Experience on Saturday. On Sunday, we hung out at Hockeytown before gametime and watched a hoard of Steelers fans from around the sportsbar, including The King from Burger King. Some fans stood there for 3 or 4 hours and were still laughing and smiling.
Anyway, I could go on and on, but let me share some of the pictures (I'll add some later, but my camera battery was low, so my sister has a lot of the good pictures of us together. She even has one of Joe Namath--other celebs we saw, in no particular order: Bart Starr, Tom Arnold, Warrick Dunn, Deuce McAllister and that guy who played Shaggy in the Scooby Doo movie and hangs out with Freddy Prinz (sp?)......
Okay, these pictures are high res and won't upload...so I'll add them later.

Monday, February 06, 2006


FINALLY!!!


Hey everyone, Sonny is on his way back from Detroit, we will be updating the site with all kinds of Superbowl stuff....Still can't believe we are World Champions!!!!

8-0 and a Super Bowl Championship since the start of the blog....We are Money.


Jim

Friday, February 03, 2006


Recipe for Victory


The Super Bowl is popular among the non-rabid fan not for the game itself, but for the social event that surrounds it. Here’s a typical Super Bowl party: volume up during the commercials…volume down while the game is on…women cackling about diapers and tampons and purses (well, non-Steeler fan women anyways. Those gals just talk about Hines Ward’s ass). And then there is the food, and the “Great Recipe Exchange.” It’s as if this knowledge transfer needs to be occur in the first quarter of a defensive struggle (often at transcendent decibel levels), rather than the other 364 days of the year. Lovers of football can’t possibly love Super Bowl parties.

So here’s a little something for the men out there in Steelers Nation. Utilize your sixth sense to determine the exact moment when the Great Recipe Exchange will unfold. It’s palpable, and any knowledgeable Steelers fan will be able to pick up on it when the moment is upon them. Then interject with the following line: “I’ve got a great recipe for you…it’s the recipe that will allow the Steelers to hoist their fifth Lombardi trophy.” Then proceed to tell the awe-struck onlookers the following:

STEELERS SUPER BOWL VICTORY SURPRISE

Preparation Time: 7 months

Cooking Time: 60 minutes

Serving Size: Millions of fans who bleed Black and Gold

Step 1: Place evenly spaced blocks of beef in well-greased neutral zone.

In their three losses this season, the Seahawks’ Shaun Alexander averaged only 81.3 rushing yards on the ground, and hit paydirt only twice. In Seattle’s 13 victories, Alexander averaged two touchdowns a game (25 rushing, one receiving), and averaged 125.8 yards on the ground. For a large back, Alexander does not excel at running people over or hitting a hole hard between the tackles. He uses quick feet to stretch plays to the outside and then makes powerful cuts to hit developing holes and leave pursuers grasping for air with deft cuts.

But only once this season have the Seahawks faced a 3-4 defense. That was in week 7 against Dallas, when the Hawks scored 10 points in the last 40 seconds to defeat the Boys 13-10. In that game, Alexander had 21 carries for 61 yards and no scores. Dallas was able to occupy the offensive line and running lanes up the middle, forcing Alexander even further to the outside. Then the additional linebacker, as opposed to a less fleet defensive lineman, was able to keep up pursuit while giving the other linebackers the ability to maintain space in potential cutback lanes.

The Steelers are even more adept at stopping the run because their corners are willing to come up and play the run, forcing backs who bounce it outside back into pursuing linebackers. Hampton, Smith, and Kimo are strong enough up front to occupy 4 lineman on every play, freeing up the linebackers to make plays on the ball carrier. Theoretically, you attack a 3-4 defense up the middle. But the Seahawks will not find room with the “Big Snack” clogging up the middle.

Step 2: Grind the peanut and sprinkle moderately over the outstretched arms of defenders.

The Steelers have punted only 12 times in their three playoff games in 2006, with half of those Gardocki gems being downed inside of the 20. Winning in the playoffs is about field position and avoiding turnovers. The Steelers are plus-4 in turnover ratio during the last three games, and both of these things can be attributed to the balance the offense has at the moment.

The Steelers offense is averaging nearly 29 points per game in the playoffs not because of a new found proficiency, but rather old school balance and efficiency. Though “experts” have touted the Steelers defense as being “confusing” all week long, imagine how confused defenses must be when Pittsburgh puts the ball in the air nearly 25 times a game. But the Steelers will need to continue to effectively use screens and draws, give Parker and Bettis creases to run through, and allow Big Ben to continue to demonstrate that he is more than just the game manager that the national press gives him credit for.

If the Steelers rush for over 100 yards, and Roethlisberger throws the ball between 20-25 times for over 200 yards, the Steelers will be hoisting the Lombardi Trophy at around 10:00 P.M. on Sunday.

Step 3: First score, then cover, and place QB in pressure cooker.

The Steelers certainly have the ability to stop Alexander and the run. But one of the few questions on defense is whether or not Pittsburgh’s defensive backfield can survive a Hasselbeck passing onslaught if the Seahawks are down in the second half. Jackson, Engram, Jurevicious, and Stevens are targets that are capable of getting open and making plays. The Steelers will have to pressure Hasselbeck to force poor decisions, and will have to get through the league’s best offensive line to do it.

While one could argue that Peyton Manning is a better quarterback, his protection in the Indianapolis game was absolutely terrible. Rest assured that Joey Porter will not be running free in the Seattle backfield if the game is on the line. Taylor and Townsend will need to give the pass rush an extra second or so to get to Hasselbeck and disrupt a passing game predicated upon timing and precise route running.

Step 4: Let stand and season to taste.

Any number of football clichés can be used here to discuss how the Steelers can win this game and become World Champions. But as long as they are patient, play their game, and don’t make the big mistake, the Steelers do in fact have a golden opportunity to have a Season to Taste!

Hopefully this helpful diatribe will allow those around you to realize what this game means and will provide them with enough perspective to pipe down. If that doesn’t work, then I recommend visiting this page: http://www.networksandwebapplications.com/myron/, downloading a bunch of sounds, burning a CD, and purchasing a set of high fidelity earphones so that you can watch the game in your own nirvana.

GO STILLERS!

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

STEELERS HAIKU WEDNESDAY--SUPER BOWL EDITION
Ode to a Hottie
Wears this in Cincy.
Then her and Nick call it quits.
Very cool. And hot.
haiku [hī'kOO]Pronunciation Key haiku , an unrhymed Japanese poem recording the essence of a moment keenly perceived, in which nature is linked to human nature. It usually consists of 17 jion (Japanese symbol-sounds). The term is also used for foreign adaptations of the haiku, notably the poems of the imagists. These poems are usually written in three lines of five, seven, and five syllables. See senryu.

Now it's your turn, Steelers fans. Praise the black and gold. Ridicule opponents. Write as many as you want (I'm writing them all day and night) and write what ever you want, but keep it to the 5-7-5 syllables.