Merry Christmas to all of my fellow Steelers fans. Apparently, the holidays are upon us. If you do not believe me, just look at the stores in your area, and you will see a bevy of red bows tied to green trees being held by Santa Claus caricatures. Everything is gift-wrapped in Christmas cheer… everything that is, except for the cups at Starbucks (but that is an entirely different ball of wax).
On the topic of merriment, the Steelers-Raiders game was very much akin to opening presents. There was unbridled excitement, like a child anticipating getting a Kylo Ren lightsaber… only to have your hopes dashed, when it is revealed that instead you got a pair of wool socks. Truthfully, I would have welcomed the wool socks, because what the Steelers-Raiders game gave us was a bunch of lumps of coal.
For example, on the second drive, Antonio Brown had blown past the deep safety which should have translated into an easy touchdown. Instead… Ben Roethlisberger underthrew Brown, and the Steelers were forced to punt.
In that same vein, from the shadow of his own goalpost Ben threw a fifty-three yard bomb towards a streaking Martavis Bryant; it had “touchdown” written all over it. Instead… Bryant could not make the proper adjustment to the ball, which fell to the ground. Making matters worse: on the very next play, Roethlisberger threw an interception.
Likewise, the Steelers defense forced a fumble, which was picked up by Mike Mitchell and returned for a touchdown. Instead… Mitchell had one foot out of bounds, and thus, the ball was dead once he touched it. Making matters worse, two other Steelers defenders were right there to collect the fumble (and possibly return it). Nope… Mitchell threw that gift away, and replaced it with a big lump of coal.
Similarly, after the Steelers defense had forced a three-and-out, the Steelers inserted Antonio Brown as the return man, in order to get a spark. Worst case: the Steelers would get the ball at mid-field. Instead… Brown fumbled (which he almost never does) changing the momentum of the game.
Along those same lines, on a third-and-eleven Landry Jones hits Antonio Brown for a seventeen-yard pass, which would have allowed the Steelers to run out the clock. Instead… Markus Wheaton is called for a pick play, and the Steelers are forced to punt.
Last, but assuredly not least, Roethlisberger’s performance in this game was stellar. You can see that Brown and he share an uncanny chemistry, as displayed in Brown’s 180 yards receiving in the first half alone. We all declared that “Big Ben is back!!!” Instead… Aldon Smith landed on Ben’s ankle, which will force Ben out for two more weeks.
The simple truth is that the Steelers somehow eked out a win. And, I know that we are not supposed to look a gift horse in the mouth… but, come on!!! That game not only gave us lump of coal after lump of coal, Aunt Clara had the audacity to send us a pink bunny suit (aka Roethlisberger’s strained foot).
Being the eternal optimist that I am, I have already looked behind the tree, and noticed that Darren McGavin has bought us the Red Ryder BB gun. In other words, if Ben does indeed have to miss two weeks, these are the perfect two weeks to do it: the Browns game and the bye week. Hopefully, when Ben returns in three weeks, he does not shoot his eye out… and, the way that the injury bug has hit the Steelers, I am not being metaphorical; I am literally concerned that an icicle might land in Ben’s eye. Until then, I’ll just enjoy my new lamp. It is a major award, you know.