What would we do without Philly? Between their dumbass wide receiver spiking the ball a yard before he reached the end zone, their drug hoarding deadbeat dad of a coach, and their tubby quarterback who can’t run a hurry up offense without puking his guts all over the sideline, that team continues to be the NFL equivalent of an older brother who is fun to invite to parties but sadly still lives in our mother’s basement.
Anyway, in news related to the one team Pennsylvanians can be proud of, it’s the first double-dip of the season for the beloved Pittsburgh Steelers as the hated Cincinnati Bengals come to town for the second half of our annual two game set. Let’s hope it doesn’t end in a tie.
Since I already previewed the two teams, there’s no sense in repeating my brilliant and usually spot-on analysis. Instead, I’ll simply touch on issues relevant to the upcoming game.
Of course, the picture above is in reference to the Bengal’s tie against the Philadelphia Eagles, the first since the Steelers drew with the Dirty Birds back in ’02. I caught a bit of the game and it was less a hard fought battle and more a cripple fight. Philly didn’t seem too eager to win (although in Donavan McNabb’s case, he probably thought he had two or three more OTs to get the job done) while Cincy snatched defeat from the jaws of victory by shanking a 47 yard FG to win the game. Still, the fact the same fearsome Iggles team which handed us our worst loss of the season was battled to a standstill by Cincy should fill us with both fear and shame.
In fact, since we last saw the Bengals, they’ve actually started to play like a professional football team. They got crushed by Houston after losing to us but then went down to Jacksonville and beat the sissies in teal for their first win. Earlier in the year, they took the Giants team with only 1 loss and who beat us up into OT. Despite the fact they’re a punchline to many jokes and this season will probably cost Marvin Lewis his job, they’re nowhere near as pathetic as say Oakland or Detroit.
To be fair, the 38-10 final score in our first game looks like a blowout but the game was a much closer battle than that. The Steelers were nursing a slim 3 point margin at halftime despite the fact Cincy QB Ryan Fitzpatrick was sacked every other play and they didn’t get into positive total yardage until the final drive of the half. Our offense didn’t perform much better until they figured out CB Jonathan Joseph couldn’t cover his mouth on a sneeze and beat him deep with Tiffin Thunder Nate Washington.
It’s a little perplexing how the Bengals have managed to stay in games. Harvard alum Fitzpatrick, frankly, stinks. He’s got the lowest QB Rating in the league (71.3!) and considering the talent this team has at WR, it’s amazing he only has 5 measly TD passes. They’ve all but given up on RB Chris Perry and handed main backfield duties to Bears castoff Cedric Benson. Chad Ocho Cinco has only quatro scoreos and is on pace for only about 500 total receiving yards. T.J. Houshalottaletters is one of the elite WRs in the league but that shouldn’t be enough to keep them competitive. But they have been.
The game will present an interesting match-up for the Steelers as 2/3 of the Three Amigos (Bryant McFadden and Deshea Townshend) will once again be inactive. Manly William Gay and Anthony Madison did a good job against San Diego last week although the weather helped a bit in that the Chargers speed in the vertical passing game was limited on the slippy chewed up field. Fernando Bryant looked shaky but he only had about 3 days of practice so if he does play on Thursday, let’s hope he’s a bit more up to speed. It looks the rest of the Blitzburgh D will be ready to go which is good news for those of us who enjoy seeing James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley chase QBs like a dog chasing a bone.
Offensively, it appears RG Darnell Stapleton will be good to go which means it’ll be the usual gang of idiots manning the OL. Well, LT Marvel Smith is listed as out, too, but at this point I think it’s safe to just give up on him permanently. Fast Willie Parker managed to play an entire game without incurring another injury so we might just have him in the starting line up for two consecutive games. Hooray for modern medical science and/or Oxycontin! FWP will be a big addition because Cincy has a horrible run defense which should allow him to pile up a good amount of yardage.
Despite the Bengals playing gamely in the face of certain doom and the historical fact of them tending to rise to the occasion when they play us, there really is no excuse for us to lose this game. A great offensive performance won’t mean much but it would be a baby step in the right direction. As the Steelers gear up for the final month of the season and, hopefully, a playoff run, bringing that offense along one baby step at a time should be one of the main goals each and every week.
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