Posted on: November 30, 2008 9:39 pm

Missed Opportunities Make More of a Statement

It was a statement game for both teams.  The Patriots, who had the Steelers number since 2001, needed the win to stay in the hunt for the playoffs, the Steelers needed this win to, not only get the monkey off their back, but to also quiet some critics. 

So it would occur, on a rainy Sunday afternoon in Foxboro where a first year backup quarterback would face his first major challenge after two back to back 400 games, and a veteran quarterback with an offense that was questionable. 

It was a statement game, but started off as anything but that.  A muffed kick off, a penalty and then an interception gave the Patriots good field position, which they were able to run in for a touchdown.  Then, as if the Steelers had made us think they wanted the Patriots to win, the Patriots seemed to want to give the game right back to them. 

Dropped passes and missed opportunities would seem to send the first half would leave fans of both teams scratching their heads and somehow, it was no surprise that the game was tied by half time.  The positive is that the Steelers offense was able to come back from a deficit, even if it was one score, which occurred in a beautiful catch by Santonio Holmes

It didn’t turn out to be the shootout that was expected by many.  The deep balls to Moss never came about.  Instead, the Steelers defense would basically make Moss a non-factor (or can we say that Moss had something to do with being a non-factor also) with only four receptions for a total of 45 yards.  It would be Kevin Faulk who would burn the Steelers, both in rushing and passing.  But it wasn’t enough to counter the mistakes made by the Patriots, combined with an offensive play of the Steelers, who began to control the ball and get down the field. 

Having protected well in the first half, somehow the Steelers front line became sack hungry and was able to get five sacks on Matt Cassel, forcing two fumbles.  James Harrison would be the defensive stud of the game.  Add two interceptions, one by Troy Polamalu, another by Lawrence Timmons and it was apparent that the Steelers defensive line began to rattle and unnerve Matt Cassel. 

The Steelers offense not only was able to eat the field, but also took advantage of the turnovers and turned them into points.  Tight end Heath Miller would lead the team in receptions.  Although no one receiver would reach the 100 yd mark in this game, both teams were able to rush for an accumulative total of 100 plus yards, something surprising given both defenses were strong against the rush. 

Can't say the monkey's off their back, but 30 unanswered points by the Steelers is a good way to start shaking him loose. 
Posted on: November 30, 2008 7:25 am
Edited on: November 30, 2008 7:38 am

Something About Curses

It was the words of an old gypsy woman, who muttered an ominous curse in revenge of...oh wait, wrong curse.  Perhaps it seems like a curse, having lost 6 matchups out of their last seven meetings.  Somehow, the Patriots have seemed to have had the Steelers number since the Bill Belicheck era. 

Today, the Steelers will venture into Foxboro in hopes of reversing the curse, getting the monkey off their backs, per say.  The last matchup got ugly.  With Troy Polamalu, Ryan Clark and Aaron Smith on the sidelines due to injuries that game, the Patriots offense was able to light up a young safety by the name of Anthony Smith, the whole second half of the game.  Definitely something that shook up the young mans confidence. 

Perhaps this year will be the year that the monkey's off their back.  Why not, the Colts had been able to shake that monkey, and this year, the Chargers have also.  Yes, perhaps this is the year.  There won't be a young safety to exploit, but two seasoned veterans who have shown it's pretty hard to knock them off their game.    In fact, the three forementioned defensive players are healthy and anxious to play this game, and they've seen this Patriots team before. 

No doubt, the Steelers defense will have to be on their game, with so many weapons on the Patriots offense.  The difference this year, no Tom Brady.  Last time the Steelers were able to beat the Patriots, they broke the Patriots winning streak with a rookie quarterback.  Tom Brady has seen this healthy defense many times before, however, Matt Cassell hasn't.  Not personally.  No doubt Matt Cassell has come into his own this season, as the Patriots fight for a playoff berth.  His most impressive games were the last two, where he had thrown over 400 yds in each.  Of course, keeping things in perspective, though the passing numbers are impressive and should no way take away from Cassell, they were obtained on teams that rank 26th and 28th in passing defense.  To believe that Cassell is going to be able to throw for 400 yards easily is like saying that the Steelers are going to run all day on the Patriots defense.  Although the Patriots secondary is suspect, even more so with Adalius Thomas out, their front line has been able to stuff the run and no doubt, that's what they'll try to do for the Steelers running game. 

The biggest factor is going to be the confidence of the quarterback and the play of the wide receivers.  If the Steelers wide receivers keep dropping the ball like they did in their previous games, then it's going to be a long day for the Steelers offense.  There's a question of the pass rush on the Patriots though.  Both offensive lines have given up a total of 35 sacks to their opponents, the numbers lessening in recent games.  Can the Steelers blitz get to Cassell enough to keep him from getting the ball deep to Moss?  Of course, there's the threat of Wes Welker, who has the ability to create plays and get away from defenders.  Though the Steelers have their own weapons up the center too with Hines Ward and Heath Miller.  Both quarterbacks are able to get out of the pocket and make plays happen with their feet. 

This season the Steelers have had mixed results in getting that monkey off their back.  They couldn't overcome their history in Lincoln Field, but were able to shake the one that plagued them against the Jaguars.  I won't add to the Cowher curse by declaring a winner for the game today.  I'll sit quietly back and keep my fingers crossed because both sides know the playoff implications in this game, and silently wish that monkey dead.
Posted on: September 3, 2008 4:23 pm

2008-09 NFL Projections - AFC East

Somehow I made it past the temptation of the little voice trying to draw me in to getting involved in Fantasy Football.  Yes it was difficult, I thought, okay, I could take a little taste, put my toes in the water and try it out.  In the end, wiser voices prevailed and I chose to abstain, at least this year anyhow.

However, there’s a lot of little voices calling for me to take a chance on certain subjects.  For awhile now I’ve been avoiding them.  Some, knowing that if I succumbed, I would need intervention to pull me from a deep hole of the firey abyss.  Others I would shrug them off and excuse them as “everyone else is doing them, so no need for me to”.  However, like a bar of rich, milk chocolate right at fingers length, I have chosen to give in to some of these whims. 

Will I regret it?  Perhaps, perhaps not.  Only time will tell.  However, one thing I do know for sure is I love to be right and brag about it, and without anything to point back to I have nothing to show and go…na na na na…I told you so.  So that I have no regrets later and so that there is no need for me to sit on my hands, here are my projections for the outcome of the 08-09 NFL season.

AFC East:

#4 - Miami Dolphins I see this year as improving from last years 1-15 game season.  However, they are now officially a young team in the process of rebuilding, and though Bill Parcells will change the direction of this team, I see them spending this year at the bottom of the AFC East.  Mostly because, the Patriots are still a very good team and both the Bills and the Jets have made improvements to theirs also.

#3 - New York Jets – The addition of Brett Favre has definitely improved this team without question, at least the offense.  Question is though the offense is improved, how well has the defense improved?  I’m seeing them in a close race with the Bills for a wild card slot, though I think, in the end, we’ll see the Jets finishing 3d in the AFC East, because the Bills defense seems to be just a tad bit better.

#2 - Buffalo Bills – Yes, I see this team as wild card contender.   Trent Edwards will be comfortable now and Lee Evans is back.  The only thing that hurt the Bills defense last year was the massive amount of injuries that it took early in the season.  I see the Bills 2nd in the AFC East.

#1 - New England Patriots – There’s no doubt that this 16-0 regular season team will be the force to be reckoned within the AFC as a whole and despite the improvements to the other three teams, it’s the Patriots to lose. 

AFC Division Winner:  New England Patriots.
Posted on: January 25, 2008 2:38 pm

Weekly Rant

Okay, honestly, I'm not experiencing any hormonal effects here this week, since it may seem that I've climbed on my soapbox.  It's just the nervous energy being emitted lately has got me tense.  Some people have, in the past, thought I was empathic.  I scoffed at that idea (and then ran to www.m-w.com to find out what that meant).  Okay, so it doesn't mean pathetic, which at times I can be.  Trust me, you haven't seen me when I'm sick. 

- Empathy:  2: the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another of either the past or present without having the feelings, thoughts, and experience fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner; also : the capacity for this

I'm thinking of how I just now made my dear grandmother (a retired english teacher), smile from her grave by learning a new word and passing it on.  It could be possible that I'm empathic.  If that's so, my Patriot fan friends may want to think of taking up yoga, meditation or valium to stay calm, just so ya'll quit affecting my ulcer.  (Just teasing).

It's going to be a long two weeks for those of us addicted to football.  Many of us have already resorted to watching old games and perusing information on past superbowls.  We'll try to keep ourselves busy, ignoring the mild shakes and withdrawals.  I suspect many of us come week two will be seeing pink elephants and suffering serious DTs. 

It's going to be a long two weeks for sports analysts too.  Having already gone through analyzing the stats, they're looking at other areas to report on.  Pete Prisco has introduced us to the possible drama that may unfold between Tom Brady and the paparrazi.  See Brittany, looks like you may not be the only one with those dread photographers following you all over.  I'm waiting for Clark Judge to come back and tell us about how Eli Manning was caught at a late night stop through a Wendy's drive through.  Sorry guys, I know there's only so many things you can write about and the different angles until it comes time to start reaching.  I wish all analysts luck for the next two weeks.

Steelers lost another casuality from the pro-bowl.  Troy Polamalu has bowed at due to an injury with his knee.  Guess it's the wisest thing, especially since he's been there before, why aggravate the injury?  But geesh, how many more injuries are going to come up for the Steelers.  Tyrone Carter dropping after the Denver game, Aaron Smith going on IR, Willie Parker in the Rams game.  It was reported that Hines Ward had knee surgery and now Polamalu with his knee strain.

Looking around the NFL and seeing the number of injuries being nursed, to include the surgery on Philip Rivers knee, I' m going to try to convince my daughter that sports medicine is the way to go once she looks into med school.

Okay I've heard of rats abandoning the ship when it's sinking, but not crawling back onto it.  Though Gamecock fans may not be too happy with the current game of duck, duck, goose, I think it's funny that Brian VanGorder decided to go back to the Falcons  as their DC after being hired by Spurrier.  Yes Steve, I'm sure you're neck was red for awhile.   Of course, news in the NCAA corrider does report that Ellis Johnson will be replacing VanGorder.  Can't blame VanGorder though, he is probably the best one that would know the strengths of the Atlanta Defense.  It will be interesting to see what Mike Smith will do with that team.

With Mike Smith leaving the Jacksonville Jaguars to become headcoach for the Atlanta Falcons, one has to wonder how that change is going to effect the Jaguars next year.  I'm sure Del Rio will find a capable replacement.

Anyway here's hoping for a good weekend...oh wait, there is no football.  Okay here's hoping we all survive the withdrawals that will accompany this weekend due to no games. 

Category: NFL
Posted on: January 21, 2008 8:40 pm

The Making of a Perfect Cheesecake

It may look simple, add a bunch of ingredients together, throw them in a pan and let it bake.  However, if you ever made a cheesecake you'd understand, it's not as easy as it seems, and the perfect cheesecake is always elusive.  It may happen a few times in a serious bakers time but not often, because there would be some tiny flaw, something that takes away that perfection and just makes it a great cheesecake.

How does one go about making that perfect cheesecake.  To be honest, I have yet to be able to do it, but I'll continue trying.  It's going to take time, I've tried recipe after recipe and I think I've found the right one for the basis.  Since then I've played with it, adjusted it.  Sometimes I was forced to use less quality ingredients, to save on costs.  It would turn out okay, even good...but not great, not perfect.  Then I'd get the right ingredients but it would either be underbaked or worse yet, overbaked.  Sometimes, when this occurred, they would be total losses, a toss in the trash and hope to do better with the next one.

I'll be honest, I think I've got it, or at least getting there.  It's a good recipe, reliable, basic.  Yet I want it to be great so I'll continue to experiment.  I've added ingredients to it, this liquor, that flavoring to see how well it would work.  Some flavors you'd think may not have worked, turn out surprisingly well, and others that seem they should, disappointment.  Often it comes out tasting very good, but when you pull it out of the oven, there's cracks in it, or worse, it falls apart when you cut that first slice, the crumb crust crumbling.  So instead of serving that piece to your guest, you hide in the shadows and devour it, enjoying it's taste.  It's not pretty but it sure taste good.

There was once I came close, it was supposed to go over to a friends house for dinner.  It was beautiful and when I came home from work, to my horror, a slice had been taken out of it.  So much for perfection.

Master baker Bill Bellicheck may have just come up with the perfect recipe.  He had a very good base and with some additions and subtractions, has the Patriots one game away from being the first undefeated team since the 1972 Dolphins.  It had taken him years of coaching to get to where he is this year.  Coming into the season, he had already a strong, quality team ready to contend.  With the addition of Randy Moss and Wes Welker to the WR corps, he brought just the right ingredients to give Tom Brady every option needed to make the offense perfect.  Already having an oline that protected him and a strong running back, the package became complete.  Add to that a solid defense and it makes, what seems to be an unstoppable force. 

There were times that it came close to cracking, but in the end, the Patriots prevailed, having gone the entire season without a loss.  Now with one game left, will the Patriots emerge from the Superbowl as perfect, or will that one slice be taken from it in the end?  Only time will tell, until then, it is still something that Patriots, and all fans of football can savor.


Category: NFL
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