Blogs, Creative Writing, NFL, Pittsburgh Steelers, sports, Sports Fans, Steelers

Playing Football is to Win. PeriodT.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t at least mention the Raiders/Chargers game on Sunday night (January 9,2022). Being a lifelong Pittsburgh Steelers fan, on the morning of 1/9/22, I knew there were three scenarios that needed to happen for my team to have any hope of playing in the NFL Post-Season. The first was the Steelers needed to defeat the Baltimore Ravens. A second scenario was for the Indianapolis Colts (9-7 record) to lose to the Jacksonville Jaguars (2-14 record). The third scenario, and what some said was the most unlikely outcome, was for the Sunday night game between the Los Angeles Chargers and the Las Vegas Raiders to “not” end in a tie. Yes, a tie!

If you talked to the people watching the odds, I am sure they’d say the Raiders/Chargers game ending in a tie was highly unlikely. Those same people would’ve gone on to say this year’s Jaguars team would be a long shot at best for defeating the Colts. But, if you’re a football fan like myself, you know that on any given Sunday, miracles can and do happen. Both the Steelers/Ravens and Colts/Jaguars games were played simultaneously. Like a true Steelers fan, of course, I was monitoring the scores of the other game that would decide my team’s fate. When I saw the 13-3 lead by Jacksonville at halftime, I had hope. Still, my focus was on the Steelers game. At halftime, Pittsburgh was tied with Baltimore at 3-3. Hope came in the 4th quarter. Ben Roethlisberger and the entire team seemed to get even more energized. My Steelers didn’t stop battling and the game ended in NFL regulation time in a tie. (I’ll let the experts explain the details). Now, by that time, the outcome of the Colts/Jaguars game was final. To the surprise of myself and from what I heard some broadcasters mention yesterday, a Jaguar win was highly unexpected. But, the Jaguars went on to defeat the Colts 26-11. I can’t say it was a complete surprise to myself since I’m one of those people that believe that anything can happen in football. So, one scenario was down, and two more to go.

To say the overtime period of this Steelers/Ravens game was a nail-biter would be an understatement. With Baltimore winning the coin toss for overtime play, the pressure was on the Steelers to stop them. The wacky NFL overtime rules didn’t help any in the frustration of having to go to overtime for this fan. As it goes, if the first team to get the ball scores a touchdown, the game is over – fini. There’s no chance for the other team to even try, no matter how much time is left of the ten-minute overtime period (that’s in regular-season play). Thankfully, the Steelers were able to hold the Ravens and go on to get those coveted points needed to win the game 16-13. I need to say winning that game was a complete effort by every Steeler involved to get the team where they needed to be yesterday.

So there my team was, the Steelers, with only one more scenario to happen where they’d live to play another game – but in post-season. Before the upcoming Chargers/Raiders game kicking off at 8:20 pm EST. even started, there were some I heard say that the odds of the game ending in a tie were astronomical. In the hours before that night game, there was already talk of the Steelers going to play “probably Kansas City” in the Wildcard playoff game the following week. But, nothing was settled until the Los Angeles/Las Vegas game was to be over.

Let’s fast forward to the end of the Chargers vs. Raiders game on Sunday night (mainly because I hadn’t intended for this blog post to go so long). The score at the end of regulation time for the game was 29-29. This is where Steelers’ fans like me started to get nervous again. A tie score in regulation happens often, but an overtime tie – not so much. Now, the dreaded scenario of that game ending in a tie threatened to dash the hope we die-hard Steelers fans had for the last few hours after the win over the Ravens. At one crucial point in overtime, the score was matched at three points each. As time winded down, it appeared that the Raiders were going to take a knee and let the game end in a tie. For reasons I haven’t read about yet (and don’t care to know), the Chargers called a time out. For whatever reason, only the Raiders organization and coaches know – the Raiders decided to play to win the game. (It’s how it should be in my book, but who am I?). The Raiders went on to kick the game-winning field goal in overtime.

Why the fuss? Because what I’ve heard from football players throughout the years and especially last night is competitive sports is about winning and not trying to end in a tie (on purpose). I can’t exactly pat the Raiders on the back for doing the Steelers a favor, as I had seen some fans discuss on social media last night. The past history from the Steelers vs. Raiders aside, I was glad to see football being played. From what I understood, there was a chance for the Raiders to get into post-season with a tie in that game with the Chargers. What I do admire is the character of a Raiders team that plays the game as it was intended. Play to win. What else is there?

Blogs, Creative Writing, current events, New Books, NFL, Pittsburgh Steelers, sports, Sports Fans, Steelers, Uncategorized

National Novel Writing Month vs. Pittsburgh Steelers

Photo credit: Sportsnaut

So, I’m feeling a little déjà vu right now. It’s National Novel Writing Month, and I’m working furiously to polish my manuscript. I don’t like that November is the month of choice for Novel Writing Month since it coincides with the height of football season. I could just stop writing, right? Nah. So, back to the déjà vu – in November of 2020, my spirits were high: my hometown team was undefeated after eleven weeks. Not to mention – I was achieving my writing goals for November 2020. Then, last week in November of 2021, the news that Big Ben Roethlisberger passed his covid-19 protocols was like music to this fan’s ears on the week of Thanksgiving 2021. Our QB was ready to fight the good fight. We still had a chance for a hopeful ending to the season. Sweet déjà vu.

Now here’s where the train went off the rails: just the other day, my Pittsburgh Steelers lost to a division rival, the Cincinnati Bengals, in week twelve of the NFL season. Correction: we got our butts handed to us in week twelve with a 41-10 loss to Cincinnati. Excuse me, it’s only been two days since the disaster, so I’m in my feelings. Even though my Steelers didn’t have a glowing record this year, there was still hope going into week twelve – at least for me, there was a semblance of hope.

It must not be understated that during week 12 of the 2020 NFL season, my beloved Pittsburgh Steelers had an 11-0 record. Fans like myself and many fair-weather fans of my team were living in our glory. However, we were unaware of the nightmare brewing in weeks to come in December of 2020. After losing three consecutive games in weeks 13 to 15, the Steelers were matched with a division rival, the Browns, in week seventeen. Today, and like last year, I’m feeling the familiar gloom and doom as I did in 2020: we lost the final game of the regular season with Cleveland. Terrible déjà vu!  It was difficult to believe my Steelers had an 11-0 record at one point and didn’t advance in the postseason.  That was a tune that played in my head for many a day after the other defeat by the Browns in the Wild Card playoff game a week later. Yes, a week later.

Now, on this last day of November 2021, the Steelers have a 5-5-1 record for this 2021-2022 season going into week 13. Experts say we don’t have a snowball’s chance on a hot summer’s day of making the playoffs this year. Like in the 2005-2006 NFL season, when my Steelers were the sixth seed to make it to the playoffs – I held out hope. Sports statisticians everywhere that season reported the astronomical odds of the Pittsburgh Steelers advancing in the playoffs. Well, my Steelers advanced to the AFC championship and to Superbowl XL. By the way, the Pittsburgh Steelers won the Superbowl that season. How’d you like them odds, Vegas? I digress.  

With all that said, one can tell I’m more of an idealist when it comes to my Pittsburgh Steelers – don’t judge me. So, anything can happen on any given Sunday. Maybe the stars will align, and other teams in our division will lose, helping our chances. (sacrificing the live chicken is not out of the question at this point) I don’t like those odds or even winning that way – but right now, it is what it is going to be. I’ll love my Steelers until I kick because I bleed black and gold. Now, where was I – oh yeah, I still have 5 hours, 49 minutes, and some seconds to reach my goal of finishing my manuscript by November 30th. It’s one goal I’ll see through this year.

Here we go, Steelers – here we go!! (Black and Gold forever!)

Blogs, Creative Writing, current events, Uncategorized

Pittsburgh Steelers end their season with a loss to division rival Cleveland Browns

Photo credit: R.H.W. Dorsey

I don’t take the Cleveland Browns win lightly over my Pittsburgh Steelers on the night of January 10, 2021. In fact, I feel like I’m in a stupor of sorts on this Monday morning after the debacle. There’s enough blame to go around for the Steelers’ loss of the NFL Wildcard playoff game on Sunday night. Some say it was because of the coaching, others say the QB was at fault, while others blame the players. Whatever happened, it was the worst “showing up” I’ve seen from my favorite football team.

I can’t give a detailed analysis of the game because I honestly didn’t watch all of the game. While I’m not a superstitious person – I have my rituals like most Steelers’ fans. Routines make some of us fans feel we’re somehow willing our team to win. One of my habits during a game when the Steelers are behind is either turning the channel or walking out of the room for a while. After a record first-quarter lead by the Cleveland Browns of twenty-eight unanswered points over my Steelers, you only have to guess what I did. I waited until late in the second quarter of the game to turn the channel. I’d had enough torture for a while.

I believe myself and most Steelers’ fan were in shock during the game because of the stellar season our team had up until week thirteen. With an 11-0 record by week twelve, we Steelers fans were on top of the world along with our team. I don’t mind that we lost in week thirteen of the regular season. A loss was bound to happen with a perfect record. I’ve seen the Steelers lose many times before in playoff season. But it’s the loss after such a great season, not counting the three consecutive defeats in weeks 13-15, that makes the loss hurt so much. To advance to a wildcard playoff game against a previously inferior division rival and lose to the extent we did is embarrassing. Sure, we made a comeback in the second half (I heard about it but didn’t see), but it was too little too late. The final score was 48-37. Cleveland advances in the playoffs, and we’re left with a 12-4 record to end our season. Cleveland outplayed us at every turn and should be congratulated for winning the game.

Now, who to blame? I’m only qualified to answer as a fan. I’d think jobs may be lost as a result of the way we ended our season. We lost four of the last five games in the regular season. Hopefully, if not in the coming days, there’ll be changes before the 2021-22 season starts. As a fan, I blame complacency by the organization, coaches, and players in preparing for the game. We had a total meltdown by the defense, offense, and coaching staff. Why weren’t we better prepared for this Browns team? Why weren’t adjustments made when it was apparent the Browns’ coaches caught on to our game plan? By the way, the Browns’ head coach wasn’t even present for the game. The report during the game was that Cleveland’s head coach was quarantined at home because of Covid-19. For the love of all things holy, why were the Browns (or you can insert any other team’s name here) “allowed” to get 28 unanswered points in the first quarter? This is not any Steelers team I’ve ever witnessed. Something went terribly wrong. I don’t think an answer as to what went wrong will satisfy any Steelers fan at this moment.  

With all that said, I still love my Pittsburgh Steelers’ team. I’ll continue to watch the games next season and root for my team to win. I’m hoping we’ll have a preseason in August 2021 since Covid-19 and the pandemic it brought stopped the 2020 NFL preseason.

It’s a solemn Monday for us die-hard Steelers’ fans. As they say, we’ll get ‘em next time!