As the last seconds ticked down on yesterday’s Steelers- Dolphins game, I couldn’t believe my eyes. Here were the Steelers about to convert one of the least likely of plays into an improbable win. As Antonio Brown streaked down the sideline, avoiding the last Dolphin tackler, I jumped up and down and cheered unlike anything I’ve done this season. And then, in a flash it was gone, the win and the season. And in a see-saw game, what undid the victory was the ever present strip of white bordering the field :the sideline.
I don’t know what it is about the Steelers and the sideline these past two weeks, but in both instances they have screwed Pittsburgh.
Nothing gets my goat more than when a player breaks out of the pack and heads right down the sideline towards the end zone. The player literally pins himself to that strip of white and as we saw Sunday, sometimes it comes back to bite them. Now I know why players do it, they do it to gain an angle on the tackler, but Brown’s blunder just emphasizes the dangers of doing this. As the replay showed and as the announcers said, Brown did not need to cut so close to the sideline, he could have cut inside of Chris Clemons who had his back to Brown and the game would be over. But no, the allure of streaking down the sideline was simply too good to pass up.
The week before, Mike Tomlin’s sideline gaffe cost him a hefty fine and apparently some low round draft picks. Originally it was thought that Tomlin’s bonehead move would not cost the Steelers picks, but it looks like those reports were wrong. And for a team so clearly about to undergo a major overhaul, losing picks does not help. Thanks coach.
Brown’s non-TD at last killed any hope Pittsburgh had of getting into the playoffs which is even more painful because their arch nemesis Baltimore is now in a solid position to claim one of the two wild card spots. I really hate the Ravens, and I’m not ashamed to say it.
Watching Brown and former Steelers and current Dolphins WR Mike Wallace exchange jersey’s (?) at the end, you have to get the feeling that Wallace was having the last laugh. While he hasn’t lived up to his hefty contract so far, Wallace has been coming on of late and I would’ve loved to have heard the conversation between he and Brown.
The last three games of the 2013 really have no meaning to this point, other than the old cliches of pride and yadda yadda. If I’m Tomlin & Co. I am using these last three games to see what the heck I have on my roster. For all intents and purposes, the season is over and now it’s time to look to 2014. Let Landry Jones get his feet wet, get Derek Moye and Markus Wheaton involved more, bring Justin Brown and Brian Arnfelt off the practice squad and get them in the game. There’s no saving this season, all they can do is look ahead, and playing everyone on the roster isn’t the worst thing in the world. It would at least give the brain trust some idea of what areas need serious attention in the off season (OL, DL, LB, DB for starters) as well as serve fans a chance to say goodbye to veterans Ryan Clark, Brett Keisel, Troy Polamalu and Emmanuel Sanders, and DC Dick LeBeau, all of who will likely be gone after the season ends. And if reports out of Pittsburgh are true, it looks like the Todd Haley- Ben Roethlisberger relationship may be coming to an ugly conclusion, with Haley on the short end of the stick. Gee, who saw that coming???
This has been a season to forget, as ugly as has been in recent memory for Pittsburgh. Brown’s play, which snatched defeat from the jaws of victory, served as one final reminder that this is a slightly dysfunctional family right now, lacking in awareness and discipline. Tomlin talked the talk this preseason, but they haven’t walked the walk. In any event, the sidelines have become their biggest enemy. Maybe they should think about painting the sidelines a bright red?
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