Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Breathing Room

I was all set to make fun of Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette this morning because not once, but twice in the last week he warned, "Don't be surprised if the Dolphins beat the Patriots." Yeah, right Ed. Whatever you say. Well, the Dolphins did beat the Patriots 29-28 last night and I'm guessing everybody watching was surprised -- even Bouchette. The good news for the Steelers is that they now are in the drivers seat for home-field advantage. They can split their last two games and still have every playoff game in Heinz Field.

The fact that Jay Feeley drove the Dolphins 68 yards in the final minutes, and then completed a 4th down pass for a TD defies all things logical. This is a guy who's started 20 games since high school. More perplexing than Feeley's play was the fact that Tom Brady threw four picks (and two really bad ones during the last two drives) and for the first time I can remember actually looked like a 6th round pick. There is good news for Brady however. He's still dating Bridget Moynahan. And as my wife said to me the other day, "Tom Brady's dating Bridget Moynahan? Wow, they'll have the most beautiful kids on the planet."

Yeah, that's what I was thinking too. Seriously though, this loss does a couple of things for Pittsburgh. First, as I mentioned above, they now have a little breathing room in the fight for home-field advantage. This also might give them a little extra incentive to go out Sunday and administer a good old fashioned holiday ass-whipping to a Ravens team that desperately needs one. Especially when you consider that Baltimore has declared that they must win out in order to give themselves a good chance at making the playoffs.

And for the second time in as many weeks (and maybe more), I've been proven wrong. I mentioned this Sunday, and Cowher reiterated it in his press conference yesterday, that the Steelers will not save players for the playoffs (that means you Plax!).

"...there's too many implications in this game," Cowher said yesterday. "This is a very important game and we're going to approach it with that in mind."
Add that to the list of reasons why I should never be allowed to make important decisions -- primarily because I don't know what I'm talking about (of course that never stopped Butch Davis, but I digress).

Speaking of not knowing what you're talking about, I've got to bust up Bouchette for this response to yesterday's Q & A on Black & Gold Insider:

Q: Why in the world did the Giants go for two when leading 30 - 26 late in the game? ...By failing the conversion, they lost a chance to win with a last second field goal. Any thoughts?

Brian Young of Homer City

BOUCHETTE: ...Giants coach Tom Coughlin explained that he wanted to be ahead by six at that point in the game, presumably if the Steelers kicked two field goals it would only be a tie. Thus, by missing, the Steelers went up by three when they scored a touchdown. That meant a field goal would not win for the Giants but it would tie the game and maybe sent it into overtime. It became a mute point when a Giants field goal never occurred.
First, great question Brian. I remember thinking the same thing at the time. I also would love to know why Coughlin called timeout with 18 seconds left in the first half after the Steelers were stopped at the Giants 3 yard line, and right before they Jeff Reed converted a field goal. Maybe we wanted to ice Reed before he even had a chance to get out there. The fact that Bouchette called it a "mute point" should only detract minimally from his answer. I mean, he's only been a journalist for 20 years, so he should get a pass on this one. To be fair -- and in the spirit of full disclosure (and the holidays), when I checked back later in the day, it had been updated to "moot," but that wouldn't be quite as funny.

We have a new #1 on the "be careful what you wish for" list. Previous #1 was Eli Manning wanting to play in New York instead of San Diego (you know, with all the media pressure in San Diego, it's quite understandable). Anyway, it looks like the Ravens offensive (and I mean definition #1) coordinator, Matt Cavanaugh might be the guy to replace Walt Harris. And while Harris got a lot of criticism before heading west to Stanford, he can take heart in knowing that what he experienced will be nothing like the brow-beating Cavanaugh might expect if he's named coach. And I say "might" because if he brings the same genius and game-planning that routinely lands the Ravens at the very bottom of every offensive category that doesn't involve Jamal Lewis, he'll be in big trouble -- and people will be reminiscing about the good old days with Walt Harris. Of course, if Cavanaugh gets the job, maybe he'll petition the NCAA to bring Kyle Boller with him.