Recap PLUS Graham to team with Craven?
What a debacle. What an outrage. What a heartbreaker.
Last year I felt pity for the Cleveland Browns until they marched into Three Rivers stadium and beat the Stillers 16-15 in front of 58,000 stunned fans. At that point, my hatred for Cleveland returned...maybe not to the level prior to their transformation into the Ravens, but it returned nonetheless. Now, after today's embarrassing defeat, I hate Cleveland (and the current state of affairs for that matter) at a whole new level.
How can a Stillers defensive unit enter the game is such a passive fashion? Defensive coordinator Tim Lewis and his clan of merry sissies allowed the Clowns to march up and down the field at will. This dug a hole that it seemed the Stillers would never recover from, yet somehow, they did. After Brownie TD's by Aaron Shea (2 yd reception) and Mark Edwards (21 yd reception) in the first quarter, Pittsburgh scored 10 points unanswered points on a TD by Huntley (4 yd run) and a FG by Brown (41 yd). What looked like sure doom suddenly looked more optimistic at half time.
Upon returning to the field for the third quarter, Hines Ward came of the gate flying with a huge return of of 57 yards, followed by a 24 yard reception. A touchdown was eminent, right? WRONG!! Unfortunately the offense stalled and settled for a 31 yard FG on Brown's foot. At least 3 more points were on the board and Cleveland's lead was only 14-13.
A short time later, Pittsburgh's coverage team decided to allow Cleveland back into the game by handing Patten a 62 yard kick return to the Pittsburgh 35. The defense held and the score moved to 17-13.
Pittsburgh's offense stormed back with a an 8 play, 80 yard drive to cap the third quarter scoring and grab the lead 20-17. The Bus was on a roll for the first time in ages and disproving all the non-believers that he is still capable of bulling, pushing and dragging opposing defenses to scrap for extra yardage.
Then the ultimate happened... The offense which was finally dominating an opponent up-front for the first in ages, went silent. The killer seemed to be an interception thrown by Bettis on a poorly called HB pass. Rather than hitting the target Hines Ward who broke up uncovered, Bettis threw short into double coverage and paid the price. Not only was the decision to throw short a bad one, the play call was worse since no gadgetry was needed to advance the ball. The offense was doing just fine without trickery. Why take the chance when it's not necessary? Inexplicable!
The offense was not heard from again (at least in a positive light) the rest of the way. What was seen and felt was soft coverage by the defense which allowed plays of 36 and 79 yards in the final quarter. Both plays lead to FG's by Cleveland. All that was needed to secure the game.
What hurt the most, was a blatant bit of buffoonery by Kent "Deer in the Headlights" Graham, as he wasted a sure opportunity to kick a game-tying field goal with seconds remaining on the clock. Rather than taking the sure-bet FG, the Stillers decided to risk one last shot at the endzone. What should have been a three-step-drop and throw (either to a receiver or away from everyone) turned into a nightmare as Graham held the ball, felt the pressure and decided to try and run. No words can explain this feat. It was simply mind-numbing to watch.... When it rains, it pours. Hopefully the Stillers can find their way out of the storm.
Hot off the press...
It is rumored that after today's bone-headed play, Graham is considering leaving the NFL and accepting an offer by Wes Craven to continue his villainous roll in "The Hills Have Eyes III".
Villain Graham to return to Hollywood?