Of the following, name the least-desirable:
A) The Allegheny River
B) The Monongahela River
C) The Ohio River
D) Frickin' Philip Rivers
Classic no-brainer ... it's "D" in a landslide -- but, in the aftermath of a 35-24 victory which puts SteelTown within one win of the Super Bowl, you realize that you won't be truly happy until you see Rivers' body bobbing lifelessly down the Monongahela ... until that river flows into the Ohio ... and the leopard piranha and tiger eels (native in those waters) feast on the flesh of the waterlogged and bloated corpse of the Charger QB.
"Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily ... life is but a dream ... "
What we experienced today, jeez ... words can sometimes escape a fella ... which is why it's prudent to rewind to when Kramer first learned about Festivus.
"Frank, this new holiday is scratchin' me right where I itch ... "
ON THE OTHER HAND, MAYBE "FESTIVUS" ISN'T OUR WISEST OPTION HERE ... CONSIDERING NEXT WEEK'S OPPONENT AND, HOW, DURING THE RAVENS' SUPER BOWL RUN OF '00, BILLICK, SOMETIME 'ROUND MIDSEASON, DIDN'T WANT HIS PLAYERS SAYING THE "P" WORD (PLAYOFFS, POSTSEASON), SO O-LINEMAN EDWIN MULITALO CIRCUMVENTED THE COACH'S EDICT BY CALLING JANUARY GAMES "FESTIVUS" ... IT WAS KINDA CLEVER, BUT MOSTLY ANNOYING ...
True dat: Tonight at the stadium was appreciably more enjoyable than the 11-10, "L'Estasi d'Oro" Game which most of us watched on TV (and witnessed the famous, one-handed-scoop INT by Polamalu on hi-def before watching the rest of the game on ordinary-def).
And, today, we witnessed the convergence (at "the confluence") of the cosmic forces of that 11-10 victory wherein the Steelers didn't score a TD (thanks, refs) and the only thing S.D. had workin' in its favour -- a 2-0 record all-time in Pittsburgh in the postseason; 0-13 all-time in the regular season there.
Regardless, the Towels were in full-twirl mode because the Steelers made all the little things add up to one huge home win during a weekend in which the previous three home teams went 0-3 -- a trend which looked mighty ominous when the Chargers scored four plays into tonight's contest.
However, the Black N' Gold got matters turned around -- and all three phases of the game were sound (the OL surrendered only one sack while allowing Fast Willie to go off for 146 yds. ... the Chargers' rushed for 15 net yards ... and the Charger punt which Santonio took to the house and the Steeler punt which ricocheted off of Weddle's helmet, those were fun ... ).
While he wasn't fully de-commisioned or eviscerated, he was effectively neutralized ...
Such were the observations and attention to minutae from Section 124 w/ the Mrs. -- the same 'til-death-do-us-part sidekick who made Game 4 of the World Series on the other side of the Keystone State something unforgettable.
Yes, we would've loved it if Santonio had been sprinting toward our seats 20 rows behind the "P" in PITTSBURGH painted in our end zone -- just so we would've had a better view of #10 doin' that little baby-hop over the diving Legedu Naanee (whoever that is) at the 15-yard line.
But, even though his score came at the opposite end of the stadium, we noticed what CBS didn't show its audience ... that following the end-zone celebration, Santonio jogged across the field toward the Steeler sideline and slapped hands with #57 Matt Wilhelm for S.D., who was gettin' ready for the PAT (#57 in Charger Blue, of course, being a symbol of frustration 14 seasons ago when Dennis Gibson was AHHHHH, SEIZURE ALERT!!!).
Then, during the super-lengthy review/TV timeout to look at the Foote/Harrison INT following S.D.'s only snap of the 3rd quarter, Santonio and Wilhelm were chit-chatting -- perhaps catching up (?) on ol' times, such as the 2002 season when they were Buckeye teammates (Wilhelm was a senior LB, Santonio was reshirting as a frosh WR).
That's the thing about Santonio Holmes -- we never really know what's on that cat's mind.
For example, there was that moment in the third quarter when Santonio was waving his arms in the universal signal (palms up) for "noise! noise!" as the offense broke the huddle -- the only thing is, 1.5 seconds later, Big Ben walked to the line of scrimmage and offered the universal signal (arms extended, palms down) for "shhhh! shut up for a minute ... "
What delightful conflict ...
And, how nice it was of Santonio Holmes to channel The Ghost of Ernie Holmes (maybe) during his punt runback (we all remember where we were and what we were doing a year ago at this time when we learned that Ernie died in that car crash in Texas two weeks after the playoff loss to the Jags).
They say that the reason for the famous arrow-shape of Fats' haircut was to remind him of which way to keep moving. Santonio doesn't seem like the type of guy who'll ever opt for such a bold hairstyle, but that's merely the opinion of a guy who wore a mohawk during the final week of Nov./first week of Dec.
There's usually a reason for everything (such as the mohawk being the universal expression of solidarity for the Mrs. completing her chemotherapy), although the reason for Santonio wearing a throwback #75 Steeler jersey (with a football tucked under his right arm as he holds a Michael Jordan trading card in his left hand) in this FLEER Platinum Influence trading card from a few years ago, well ... the quest for an explanation might very well get filed under "attempting to know the unknowable."
On the other hand, when there's a pregame "incident" when the guy in the parking lot at the bakery outlet on Western Ave. leans up against the portable heater and significantly singes the bottom of his HAMPTON 98 jersey, people need to know that this is not a tragedy -- and that the run-stuffing nose tackle will not be scarred for life or cast into some doomed purgatory somewhere between "jinxed" and "cursed."
It's times like those when it's important to be a good teammate and inform Casey Fan: "That's a GOOD omen, buddy. It's totally positive. Nuthin' to worry about, Chief. Ya gotta trust me on this one ... "
OF COURSE, THERE'S NO WAY YOU'RE GONNA TELL THAT GUY ABOUT THE RAMIFICATIONS AND REPERCUSSIONS IF ANY TAILGATER SHOULD HAPPEN TO SPILL CHILI OR NACHO CHEESE ON HIS/HER KEISEL 99 JERSEY. IF THAT EVER HAPPENS, HEAVEN HELP US ALL ... )
Providing comfort for the guy with the burnt Hampton jersey, well ... let's just say that it's part of "the process" in gamesmanship ... a meaningful element as symbolic as Jeff Reed's unbelievable shock of bleached-out hair which greeted fans before they got revved up during the fly-over at the end of the national anthem.
As we've come to learn, bleached-out hair and fly-overs which punctuate national anthems are side dishes to the main course that is the tastiest part of any NFL game which we attend in person -- "The Pageant of Jerseys" (i.e. who's wearing who).
With such frigid weather, it's certainly not easy for a husband and wife to display vintage his-and-her looks (i.e. OKOBI 56 and IWUOMA 29 ... and/or HOKE 76 and HOAK 42 ... then again, Dick Hoak didn't have his name on the back when he played ... in fact, his five Super Bowl rings were not earned in his 10 years as a Steeler RB, but, instead during his 35 years as a Noll/Cowher assistant ... ).
The pickin's were a little slim out at the ballpark tonight, save for the usual shirts for Ward n' Polamalu n' Parker n' Harrison, etc ...
We didn't see anyone wearing a counterfeit ROTHLESBURGER 7 jersey (which we know are out there somewhere), although we noticed an oldtimer wearing his THIGPEN 82 backwards (intentionally, we assumed) -- and that other guy had the last name spelled correctly on the back of his STRZELCZYK 73 shirt, so we knew THAT wasn't a counterfeit.
AND HERE'S SOMETHING WHICH HAS STUCK IN OUR CRAW FOR A BUNCH OF YEARS: WHY WAS IT THAT WHEN "THE DEER HUNTER" WAS ENTRENCHING ITSELF INTO OUR COLLECTIVE CONSCIENCE AS SOME SORTA SLICE OF AMERICANA, WHAT WAS THE DEAL WITH NO REFERENCES TO THE STEELERS? >>> THINK ABOUT IT: MIKE N' NICKY N' STEVIE WERE BUDDIES FROM CLAIRTON IN THE MID-'70'S, BUT ALL THEY EVER DID WAS WORK IN THE MILL, DRINK, SING, GO BOWLING, B.S. A LOT AND SHOOT DEER ("Every time we come up here, ya got no jacket, ya got no boots, ya got no belt, ya got no knife ... all ya got is that fuckin' gun ya carry around like John Wayne. That ain't gonna help ya." -- DeNiro) >>> THE FELLAS WERE NEVER TOSSIN' 'ROUND A FOOTBALL AFTER WORK AND SAYIN', "DIDJA SEE THE GAME YESTERDAY?" SERIOUSLY ... HOW'D THE GUYS GO FROM 1845 PITTSBURGH TO VIETNAM? >>> AGAIN ... MAYBE WE'RE LEANING UP AGAINST WHAT IS "UNKNOWABLE." THANK GOD THAT MOVIES SUCH AS "BLACK SUNDAY" AND "HEAVEN CAN WAIT" EXPLAINED EVERYTHING ABOUT THE STEELERS OF THE '70S ...
MEANWHILE ... any report is an incomplete report when there's no mention of somebody wearing a DAWSON 63 jersey (which, if we were to buy a Steeler jersey for this household, THAT'S the name n' number we'd select ... all of which seems a bit unlikely, given how three days after wearing an authentic Nike SOONERS 4 jersey to work, we wondered why is it that NFL-jersey manufacturer Reebok doesn't manufacture/distribute NFL jerseys for public consumption which are cut more like the actual, game-type style ... y'know, instead of stripes near your elbow on a floppy sleeve, a tapered sleeve which ends mid-bicep with the gold stripes near the shoulder ... just like the players wear ... )
Yeah, it's understood that with the floppy sleeve, a fan can wear a sweatshirt and a windbreaker under an XXXL or XXXXL jersey (in order to establish sensible "layering"), yet, if somebody wants a tapered sleeve w/ stripes nearer to the shoulder for watchin' the game in the comfort of their own Steeler Sanctuary/living room, Reebok sez, "No sale."
As per the absence of DAWSON 63, maybe the townsfolk are feeling conflicted ... wanting not to wear their #63, thinking that it might jinx Dermontti's Hall of Fame legitimacy when his candidacy is discussed (and, likely, glossed over) later this month in Tampa.
Or maybe it's because Ernie Holmes wore #63.
Or because we can't wear #78 ... out of respect for Dwight White (who died last June) ... but, also so as not to jinx Max Starks as he carries out his blocking schemes.
So much deep, dark inner-conflict ... unlike the bright, bubbly, happy conflict represented by Santonio's "more noise!" followed immediately by Big Ben's "quiet, please!"
Anyway, tonight's climate (25 degrees/wind-chill 18 ... dazzling, snow-globe mini-flakes throughout the entire first half) did not provide an ideal setting for showcasing jersey allegiances, although it was the rather perfect occasion to strut around in black-n'-gold outerwear.
IMAGINE IF THE FIRED-UP CROWD FOUND OUT THAT THE GUY WITH THE PLAIN-BLACK STEELERS KNIT CAP, THE BLACK-GRAY-CHARCOAL-YELLOW INSULATED STEELERS GLOVES AND THE BRAND NEW STEELER WINDJACKET (thanks, Hometowne Sports) WAS USING THE FOLLOWING AS "UPPER" LAYERING: A GREEN LONG-SLEEVE MOCK-T WHICH WAS SO OLD YOU COULD STILL SEE THE DISCUS ATHLETIC TAG ON IT; A GRAY COLORADO BUFFALOES HOODIE; AND A RED, LINED MARYLAND 2002 NATIONAL CHAMPIONS JACKET ...
Without a doubt: The fashion fiesta never gets old, albeit we need to differentiate between the unknowable and the "we're-better-off-NOT-knowin'."
Such as why that guy eight or nine rows in front of us was wearin' a BEER 24 Steeler jersey.
Or why that guy goin' down the escalator had a DECENT 1 jersey.
And, where the frick was our ol' pal from the Ravens game in B'More ... DANISH 43?
Did DANISH 43 forget how we bonded when he was 100 feet ahead of us and then he kept walkin' straight ahead while we veered off to the left so that we could spend two minutes visiting the Unitas Statue (the one where Johnny U. has a package the size of a grapefruit ... HEY, DON'T LOOKIT ME, I DIDN'T SCULPT IT ... ).
It's all water under the bridge now (pun intended) -- and because of this weekend's developments, they'll be fillin' up Heinz Field up next Sunday the way that Heinz has filled our lives with so many ketchup moments which Hunt's can only dream about.
Just say no to Nashville ... how fitting, given that the cow they call LargeDale White tried to act all tough a few weeks ago by wipin' his cleats on a Terrible Towel.
Tsk, tsk ... how soon they forget that when the CinShitnati BenGirls pulled that tough-guy shit three years ago (Housh-man-zilli polishing his shoes with a Towel), Kimo von Oelhoffen delivered retribution by submarining Carson Palmer's knee.
This trip to Steeler Country ... it will remain a keeper which'll rank right up there w/ Game 4 of the '08 World Series (played moments after the yellow-helmeted Steelers collapsed against the G-Men who had invaded Heinz ... when James Harrison was long-snapping for the recently-crippled Chris Warren ... ).
Dear Diary: This was wayyyy better than the only time we ever sat inside Imploded-But-Never-Forgotten Three Rivers Stadium ... that mid-August blockbuster in '82 ... when approx. 856 of the 11,345 in attendance that night went ape-shit when Jason Thompson went deep against Atlee Hammaker ...
[P.S. -- Our only other Steeler game before this season was that 20-13 classic in the '98 season opener which was the first game ever played in Ravens Stadium -- a black-n'-gold triumph highlighted by a bad snap by Harper LeBel which put the ball inside the Raven 5 ... you never forget a bad snap by a guy named Harper LeBel and, holy crap! That's TWO references to long-snappers -- and, at this point, it's not worth it to attempt to name the long snapper(s) in the only other NFL playoff game we've attended ... Jan. '89 at CandleShit ... w/ Jay-Ay ... when that back judge had to leave the game after slipping on the damp surface while trying to keep up w/ Jerry Rice ... personal cost that day: zero $$$, just like the Steelers-Ravens tussle 10 yrs. ago ... ]
This odyssey in Steeler Country will forever rank right up there with the pilgrimage to Philly for Game 4 of the World Series, notwithstanding the 5-Way Chili at the Steak N' Shake which did taste as though the matter which was poured over the spaghetti noodles came from a can.
We were hoping for something a little more homemade in orientation.
It's going in the report -- just as the hospitality of the locals who ran the hotel where we lodged in West Mifflin (yup ... right next door to the Allegheny Co. Airport ... right down the street from Dean Honda) will get their propers.
And SuperDawg? He hit the jackpot with his new Steeler collar (which is gonna rankle the bejabbers outta the folks back home in the Ravens Quadrant of the Mid-Atlantic Corridor).
SteelerPup spent the game 'cross town ... in the warmth of a South Park dwelling ... appreciative of the manner in which the OL negated Igor Olshansky in a possible sneak-preview of what's in store for Haloti Ngata, the behemoth who lined up next to Olshanky on that '01 Oregon Ducks team which truly was the team which shoulda played Miami in the BCS Title Game in the Rose Bowl.
Unlike the Steeler game at B'More last month, we toughed it out 'til the very end (and thensome), laughing heartily as the kid w/ the Bambi stride (Limas Sweed, who the closed-caption typist once I.D.ed as "Lie Muss Weed") sprinted toward us and was unable to corral that deeeeeep ball from Leftwich during garbage time.
We chuckled ... because, like a HAMPTON 98 jersey which gets toasted, it's best to mask anguish with laughter.
And, stickin' 'round 'til the very end allows ya to finish yer pizza as ya notice how quickly Kasim Osgood frickin' bolted off the field before everybody else (obviously, eager to get a good seat on that flight back to mediocrity).
Or how rookie Jacob Hester, of all people, was the last Charger off the field, tapping Fast Willie on the backside (Thought Parker: "Who the frick is that dude?") before making his way to the tunnel ...
Section 124 afforded us a premium vantage point for observing the personal growth that Fast Willie has undergone this season -- as evidenced by his two TD celebrations.
The first one (right in front of us) featured Willie bent forward, doin' a between-the-legs weave with the ball before he shot a fall-away jumper from the rear pylon.
On the second TD (his 18-yard scamper which put Team Rustbelt up, 35-17), Willie knelt (some would say he "genuflected") and offered a roll of the ball which might've been part-bowling, part-dicethrow.
Again ... the knowledge that we're pursuing here might very well fall under the heading of "the unknowable."
Regardless, good for you, Gary Russell ... fightin' yer way across the goal line on a sweep w/ cutback and then punctuating the effort with your vicious, celebratory spike on the 2-yard line (after "breaking the plane," of course).
Russell's TD served as redemption for earlier in the game when the offense was stopped on 4th-n'-goal from the 1 for the fifth time this season ... FIVE frickin' times --> vs. Indy, the first Charger game, vs. Dallas ... there's another one we're missing, but, so what, right?
The Steelers' red-zone offense has been a little erratic this season, although everybody loves it when Heath Miller is blocking, blocking, blocking and Big Ben is drifting to his right, drifting, drifting, buying time, looking, looking -- and then Miller disengages from his opponent, that defender advances toward the QB and then Benny Roth holds the ball a split-second longer and then executes the dump-off to #83 ... verrrrrry nicely-done.
That was the capper to the lengthy drive to open the third quarter -- and it was a dagger. Big Ben -- showing no ill-effects from the concussion sustained two weeks ago -- delivered the ball with seemingly more mustard today (if that's fair to say when seated inside the ketchup kingdom).
Big Ben made anybody who owns a counterfeit ROTHLESBURGER 7 jersey damn proud -- and the OL was so stout that it makes ya wanna substitute "we/our/us" for "the Steelers" in most sentences.
Our line was great today ...
We really protected well today ...
The Ravens will have their hands full with us ...
Make no mistake: That's a dangerous (and unfair) practice -- which is why it's vital to limit conversations to strangers (such as the ones in Section 124) to, "So, do ya think that it's time to rank Gary Russell up there with the previous #33 RBs from our past, i.e. Frenchy, Merrill and Bam?"
The fans are hardcore ... and they prefer to engage in the sing-song "Here we go, Steelers, here we go ..." -- as opposed to acknowledging personal observations such as, "Patrick Bailey is REALLY showin' me somethin' today" (which would prompt one of your Section 124 neighbors to notice Patrick in his #55 for the kick-cover team and remark, "Say, isn't 55 the number that ... " >>> and before they can finish the sentence with "Joey Porter," you blurt out, "You're right! Jerry Olsavsky DID wear number 55."
Sometimes it's better just to bite yer tongue ... because if you start quizzing everybody in Section 124 about who's their favorite #55, it might end up as an exercise in frustration when you realize how many people can't think outside the realm of Joey Porter as #55.
Which is sad, given that Jon Kolb wore #55 as the starter at left tackle on four Super Bowl winners.
It's something to think about any time that #72 Darnell Stapleton is doin' his thing at right guard and you're wondering if it's a good idea to say to the guy next to ya, "Kinda reminds ya of Gerry Mullins, doesn't it?"
Did they forget that Moon Mullins wore #72 ... or that he played the same position as Stapleton ... or that he, like Kolb, was the other OL starter on four Super Bowl winners?
Well, Section 124's on its own next week -- so, the banner which is draped across the wall next to the end zone across Sections 125 and 124 will have to provide the inspiration: