The Pittsburgh Steelers and their heartbreaker of a loss to the Ravens on Thursday night left most of Steeler Nation contemplating the realistic playoff chances for a team that hit a brick wall as quickly as it seemed as though it had turned things around. The Steelers are no longer in control of their own destiny and are reliant upon the help of numerous teams for the next four weeks – a formula that never really leads to success. So it is with that, I’m resolved to start looking at the moral victories week in and week out.
So what is this upcoming week’s moral victory? Beating the snot out of former Steeler wide receiver and one trick pony, Mike Wallace. Were the Steelers any good and in playoff contention, the fervor of this game would be amazing – the team continuing their playoff push as they maintain the lead in the AFC North and do so by shutting down their former #1 receiver who was fickle, a disease in the locker room, and left for greener pastures made of dollar bills and not championships. Instead, I am left watching a 5-7 team host a 6-6 team and hoping that the Steelers secondary can get their crap together to make sure that they keep Wallace off the scoreboard and make him pay dearly for every pass attempt thrown his way – whether he’s put on an island with Taylor or Troy and Clark give him plenty of help over the top. Ryan Tann-ey-hill and Brian Hartline can have career days for all I care. As long as the Steelers keep Wallace contained and hardly hear his name except for, ‘Ooooohh what a hit suffered there by Wallace from Troy Polamalu,’ I’ll be a happy camper.
The Steelers’ chances of containing Wallace are not that great, although defending Wallace this year has not been rocket science for most teams. He’s still the same old butterfingery route running challenged wide receiver as he was when wearing the Black & Gold. He only has 56 catches for 743 yards and 3 TD’s (Hartline has more catches and yards) compared to his counterpart on the other side of the field. The Steelers current #1 receiver, Antonio Brown, has 85 catches (league leading) for 1103 yards and twice as many TD’s as Wallace. It’s obvious that the Steelers faired better in the Wallace Sweepstakes when they signed Brown to the big extension and let Wallace walk.
Taylor will need to play a tight game against Wallace and not give him too much cushion – after all, he is still pretty damn fast and will out run Taylor if he’s not physical against the speedy wide out. My best fantasy scenario in all of this is that it’s a close game, Tannehill throws a 30-40 yard bomb to Wallace who is fairly open, Wallace drops the sure TD pass to take the lead, and Ike Taylor hands him an oversized $100 bill and tells him to wipe his butt with it. It’s a little far fetched, but I’m sure there’s a place out there selling oversized $100.
If Wallace gets over 50 yards and a score, I’ll chewing rocks the rest of the week. If there’s anything you prepare for this week, defense, is don’t let that jag light you up.