I've said it before, but I really like Bill Hillgrove and Tunch Ilkin. And the Colts game might have been maybe the single funniest display of homerism/color commentary since Myron Cope hung them up last year. Still, I like listening to these guys because you actually learn stuff. And here are a couple of things I caught while listening the radio broadcast:
... Ilkin mentioned that Nate Washington has looked good in practice; very smooth, fast, good hands, and he thinks he could be a really good player in the next few seasons. Memo to local newspapers: Hey, stuff like this is good to know.
... You won't believe this, but during warm-ups, Porter was running his yap at anybody who'd listen. Apparently, the officials had been instructed to position themselves between both teams at midfield (hey, they got one right!). Still, Bill Hillgrove noted that Porter was getting into it with Indy's strength coach, and then said something about, "I meant to tell Joey not to get that guy going because he's some kind of kickboxing sensei or something." OK, I made the part of about being a sensei, but the guy was some kind of kickboxing expert. And given that "strength coach" is often a euphemism for "guys who still wear those coaches shorts, pine for the days of high school, and love bench pressing and punching people without much provocation," Hillgrove might have been well advised to let Porter in on his little secret. Or not. Maybe he wanted to see what happens when two meathead meet at midfield.
... As the game progressed, Tunch pointed out that the Steelers were doing a good job of not letting the Colts WRs get off the line of scrimmage. I don't know if the Chargers did this effectively, or if the Steelers just didn't do it well enough the first time, but either way, it seemed to work. Indy's passing game is about timing, and if you disrupt things from the get-go, it looks to cause problems (Of course, the question then becomes: Why the hell didn't other teams do it during the other 15 weeks of the regular season. Hey look, I'm not a coach, so how should I know? Seriously, Indy did struggle offensively during the first few weeks of the season. I didn't see any of those games, but maybe defenses were effectively jamming the Colts WRs early, the Colts made an adjustment, started averaging 50 points a game, and defenses started looking for other ways to exploit Indy's offense. Or maybe everything I just wrote is completely made up. It's one or the other.)
Brian mentioned Monday that he was going to write about being worried over the Edge running pretty effectively against the Steelers at points during the game, but he later decided against it. Honestly, I had to keep reminding myself that James running the ball was a good thing. In fact, about every three or four minutes, I would shout out Tourette's style: "Make them f-ing earn it!" My point was this: the Colts can nickel and dime their way down the field all day long. Let Edge run for four yards; let Reggie Wayne make a six-yard reception; let that hyper active dude playing tight end (Brandon Fletcher) wear himself out after catching a two-yard pass on third-and-seven. I don't know if Peyton was necessarily frustrated by having to throw a lot of underneath stuff, but I really didn't care, because as long and he's not throwing the ball down the field, the Steelers increase their chances of staying in the game.
Hey, did anybody else hear that Pete Morelli was basically making stuff up as he went along on the Troy Polamalu interception? Yeah, I know, really surprising. Actually, I don't want to revisit that here. I mean, it's been talked to death. Seriously, any time anything happens that so obviously wrong that both Sean Salisbury and Skip Bayless fall on the same side of the issue as I do, then it's probably time to move on. And that's what I plan on doing.
One penalty that nobody's talking about (and to be fair, if everybody talked about every penalty, we'd have to move the AFCC back to the first week of March) is the face mask called on Bob Sanders during Hines' catch late in the first quarter. And I'm not even sure Sanders grabbed Ward's face mask. My question is how come it's OK for the offensive player to stiff arm a defender in the face -- and as best I can tell, grab his face mask while he's at the stiff-arming -- but that's not a penalty? Obviously, I'm glad it wasn't, but it just seems like one of those arbitrary no-calls that some dude on the rules committee stuck in at the last minute while everybody else was taking a bathroom break or something (kinda like the "if the ball is intercepted in the middle of the field and the defender rolls, untouched, out of bounds, it's an incompletion" rule that was also under consideration).
... Israel asks:
How many quarterbacks make that tackle? How many try? Certainly not Manning - at least not Peyton. Or Brady. Vick? Culpepper? Kordell? Randall Cunningham? George Blanda? (Kyle Boller?)This is a very important question. One that I wasn't thinking about immediately after Jerome fumbled (probably because I was crapping my pants), but after things settled down a bit, the magnitude of Roethlisberger's play started to dawn on me. Given 10 chances, I'm guessing Ben makes the tackle once. Luckily, that just happened to be last Sunday. But to Israel's question, I think Boller would have a legitimate shot at making that play. Plus, it would ease his eventual transition to safety. OK, I admit it, I just wanted to get my weekly Boller sucker punch in a little early. I feel better now.
... I found this pretty funny. Not because Vanderjagt just shanked his way out of town (this was written the Saturday before the game), but because it's legitimately humorous:
Q: Share with us your most embarrassing moment in the locker room.I'm guessing after Sunday's game, Jim Newton got naked in Vanderjagt's chair with Vanderjagt still in it.
A: About two years ago, I got a new chair next to my locker that was different from everyone else's; a leather office chair with wheels. The other players have those little blue folding chairs.
Offensive lineman Jim Newton (6-9, 300 pounds) got naked in my chair. Someone took a picture of him and then hung it in my locker.
Needless to say, I had to disinfect my chair.
... Alright, one more thing about the blown interception call: how funny is that Joey Porter, (a) says the officials conspired to give the Colts the game, (b) the league then calls out said officials for blowing the call, and then, (c) don't have any reactions to Porter's comments, and may not even fine him? When I first heard Porter's diatribe, I was pretty sure he and Sean Taylor would be swapping, "What we coulda done with the $17K we donated to the NFL" stories later this off-season (If Taylor goes to the clink, these conversations will have to either be (a) collect calls, or (b) through a glass partition if Porter actually decides to visit in person. But these are details that can be worked out later)
... Just a couple more things. During Monday's Total Access, Rich Eisen, along with Terrell Davis, got Rod Woodson on the phone (just in case you don't know, usually all three work together at least a few days a week), and the following conversation ensued:
EISEN: Rod, TD has agreed that he will wear your game jersey if the Steelers win this game. Will you agree to wear a #30 ...And then they actually talked about the game, which wasn't quite as funny as Woodson's zinger. Hey TD, Yahtzee!
DAVIS: I need three X's too -- three X's (flexes) when you get that jersey ...
EISEN: Will you agree to wear a TD jersey should the Broncos win this game, Rod?
WOODSON: They don't make jersey's for guys who only played three years in the league.
DAVIS: (Laughing) Three years?
EISEN: Ooooh. (Laughing) Oh my god (more laughing).
DAVIS: Three years? Uh, um, (inaudible). Let me correct you, I played eight years. I played eight years.
... And oh yeah, Mike Pereira, the NFL head of officials (or some similar title) will be on Total Access Wednesday night at 7pm EST to explain the crap load of horrific officiating that took place last weekend. That should be fun.