I�ve been reading the chat room at the site daily because I�ve realized that many of you don�t realize I�m writing pre/post game analysis. For those of you who don�t know, I�m not Still Mill. I�m JB in the Big Steel Apple. I live in NYC but grew up in the �Burgh. I�ve never met the famed Still Mill and wouldn�t be able to pick him out of a crowd. He and I, however, have had some heated e-mail debates over these Steelers this year. Plus, I like Jason Gildon. A lot. Not enough to go giving him undeserved Pro Bowls, but enough to hope he sticks around for a few more seasons. So there. That�s my view. I APPROVE OF JASON GILDON.
Now onto the pre-game.
The "almost" Gimme Game of the Year
This Sunday�s game pits two teams spiraling in opposite directions. The Pittsburgh Steelers (8 � 2) enter this week masters of their own destiny, while the Minnesota Vikings limply pray for the Gods of Mathematical Playoff Life to intervene.
What once was a proud franchise, this Viking team has suddenly turned into a team that looks remarkably like the Steelers of 1998. That year followed a playoff season, and the team entered with high expectations. It suffered losses in free agency with John Jackson and Yancey Thigpen. Team depth was a thing of the past. Kordell Stewart suffered a breakdown at Raymond James Stadium where he actually wept for being benched. The team had in-fighting, grumbling and lack of emotion. Even Bill Cowher looked as if his days were numbered.
Fast-forward to this season and you see the Minnesota Vikings resembling that group hauntingly. Free agent losses of John Randle, Ed McDaniel to name of few; the lack of depth and the tragic death of Korey Stringer have resulted in the combined lackluster performances, in-fighting and grumbling. Dennis Green even looks like he doesn�t push the right buttons anymore.
On paper this looks like a gimme. Hell, I�m ready to call it one. But there�s this nagging voice in my ear that keeps telling me random facts. It tells me Bill Cowher has yet to beat the Vikings. I then say we�ve ended many streaks this year already. It then tells me, the Vikings still have the offensive firepower, and I say but they�re playing on grass this week and we�ve got the best Defense in all the land. It then breathes the words "Randy Moss." I shudder and say, "That name has haunted many great defenses." I then ask the voice, "What day is the game being played?" It replies "Sunday." I relax, Randy Moss doesn�t show up on Sundays this year.
Regardless Randy Moss and Chris Carter alone can�t defeat us and in the end they won�t. They shouldn�t even be a key match-up, but�
Now on to the Key Matchups:
- Pittsburgh Offense vs. The Let Down: They are gaining steam. Now is not the time to take steps backward. We must continue to run the ball well, pass effectively and control the clock. We need to remain protective of the ball and not get sloppy. Let downs continually are hampered by turnovers. We haven�t been prone to giving the ball up too much, but we will have one of those games before this season is through. It could be this week.
Notes to keep in mind while you�re going to the Fridge for another Beer.
* Last Week�s "Missed Prime Opportunity" score:Pittsburgh 1 Tennessee 4
Note: Team gains a point with each "prime opportunity" they miss.
*-- A "Missed Prime Opportunity" is one in when a team fails to score while in scoring range or doesn�t take advantage of major swings in momentum (i.e. major penalties/turnovers/settling for field goals in successive series/inability to seal a game with first downs). These are killer because a team only gets so many. A great example is the Giants vs Eagles on Monday night this year. Although thoroughly ass whipping the Eagles in every category, the Giants inability to capitalize on Prime Opportunities causes the Eagles to take the lead with less than 2 minutes left. This gave the Giants at least 4 MPO�s in the first half. Those MPO�s came back to haunt the Giants. The Eagles cause Kerry Collins (The most overrated QB in the NFL) to fumble leading to an improbable Eagles victory in New York.
I just don�t see us losing this game. Now right now, not with way we�re playing. We�ll lose again before the playoffs, just not this week.
Pittsburgh 24 Minnesota 13
Kordell 200 yds passing 1 TD
Bettis 140 yds rushing and 2 TD
Culpepper 150 yds passing 2 TD�s 3 INT
Moss & Carter combined 120 yds receiving and 2 TD receptions.
Written by JB IN THE BIG STEEL APPLE