Sirk: Cow Patties from Columbus

Steve sends us another missive from central Ohio, where he discusses the challenges of being a Browns fan in central Ohio. This week, he analyzes the dichotomy between the Browns and Buckey... OH NO! IT'S SCUT FARKUS!! HE'S GONNA CLOBBER US! RUN!!

Barry,

I am sure you are old enough to remember that before he became famous for playing a weepy guy with man boobs in "Fight Club", Meat Loaf used to be a singer. Way back in the 1970s, he sang that "two out of three ain't bad."

Well, in my OU/OSU/Browns Ohio Football Trifecta last week, I can tell you that "2.991 out of 3" ain't bad—it's excruciating. After the Bobcats and Buckeyes took care of business on their home fields, the Browns did not fall behind the loathsome Pittsburgh Steelers until there were 32 seconds left in the game. A lot of magical things can happen in just 32 seconds, particularly if you are an inexperienced teenaged male. But let's face facts— of all the great things that can happen in 32 seconds, a Cleveland Browns comeback is surely not one of them.

So now I am left to stew over the Browns' 24-20 loss. Check that, the Browns' "New & Improved" 24-20 loss, according to the marketing firm of Crennel & Associates. ("Now 60 minutes long! A 400% increase in impending doom!")

In a perfect world, this game would have mirrored Ralphie's big showdown with Scut Farkus in "A Christmas Story." Having had enough of being picked on, the Browns would have charged the Steelers, knocked them on their backs, then begun raining down a torrent of blows as they spewed Yosemite Sam pseudo-profanities while the crowd of gawking onlookers delighted at the sight of the sobbing, bloody-nosed bully. Indeed, in this dream world, the Browns would have recreated the 51-0 Three Sewers Massacre that opened the 1989 season. Man, that seems like a lifetime ago. (For anyone high school age or younger, I suppose it was.)

Instead, on Sunday, we got some sort of alternate scene where Ralphie appears to have vanquished the bully, but at the last minute, Farkus kicks him the balls, spits in his face, and calls his mother a whore. Or something like that, except however Jean Shepherd would have written it.

(The more I think about it, the Steelers-as-Scut-Farkus analogy works pretty well. For example, in the movie, Ralphie marvels that Farkus has yellow eyes. This is a symptom of cirrhosis of the liver, which can be caused by drinking one sip of Arn City. Farkus is also ugly, obnoxious, and appears to be wearing a hat made out of a newly-deceased critter scraped off the side of "the speedway."  The only flaw in the analogy is that Farkus wears braces, whereas Pittsburgh still steadfastly adheres to the have-grandpa-tie-a-string-around-a-loose-tooth-and-then-yank school of dentistry and orthodontia.)

Anyway, the most stinging aspect of this loss is that the game actually FELT like a Browns-Steelers game again. There was pre-game trash-talk, in-game trash-talk, and post-game trash-talk. Meanwhile, in the stands, there was towel-waving trash that talked. Roethelesburgegergr was as bloodied, muddied, and stained as a CSI victim; his jersey would have caused that obnoxious Oxi-Clean guy to backpedal on his money-back guarantee. Joshua Cribbs evoked memories of Eric Metcalf in '93 when he seemingly iced the game with a timely return. Nick Eason became the second coming of Turkey Jones when he picked up Rotherlesssburgerr and slammed him to th--- oh, wait, that didn't actually happen. But it should have. Whatever unreasonable fine the NFL would have assessed for doing something so outrageous as actually sacking the quarterback, I hope the Browns match it for not finishing the sack, then triple it because it was against the Steelers. And someone, I'm begging you, please hang the famous Jones/Bradshaw photo in that man's locker post haste.

While I am perplexed and annoyed that Romeo played the Loss Improvement card, I must confess to secretly feeling that way myself. Steelers games have become such rote, pummel-by-number farces that it felt good to own them for even two or three quarters. Sad, isn't it? This is one of the many reasons I am not a football coach.

But I am glad the Browns stuck up for themselves. I am glad Braylon Edwards talked crap and then backed it up with a big day on the field. Even though it cost the Browns points, I am kinda happy that Simon Fraser knocked Rooethlesburger to the ground a few times during an interception return. I am thrilled that Kellen Winslow and Joey Porter got into their war of words before the game, followed shortly thereafter by an attempted tackle during which Winslow tossed Porter aside as if he were the owner's manual to a brand new 2005 Suzuki GSX-R750.

Yeah, all that stuff, plus players mocking Porter's leg-kick celebration, can be taken as unearned insolence. However, I think Winslow summed it up best: "Sometimes you got to face the bully.... You got to step up to the challenge and know that you're not scared of him. They beat us 41-zip last year and I damn sure wasn't having that."

It's a relief to know that the 2006 Browns seem to know what's at stake when they play the Steelers. It's refreshing to see how broken up they were after this loss. I am ecstatic that none of them opted to wear the "Mission Accomplished: Last Year It Was 41-0" t-shirts that Romeo was passing out as they left the locker room.

Seriously, between the "last year was 41-0" and "if we keep playing like this, we'll be able to win a game here and there" comments, Romeo came across as The Man Who Doesn't Get It.  He has been here as an assistant and a head coach, yet that's all he has to say about losing to the Steelers? In a week where we were incessantly reminded of the Ten Year War between Woody and Bo, this is what we hear after a 4th quarter home collapse against our biggest NFL rival?  "Last time was 41-0. This was improvement."(?!?!?)

I'm not saying Romeo had to vow to eat Cowher's children before the rematch, but would it have killed him to summon enough emotion to deliver one of those comical Jim Mora "we couldn't do diddly-poo" tirades? Maybe a Denny Green, "The Steelers ARE who we THOUGHT they were! We let them off the hook!" meltdown? I don't feel like I'm being too demanding here. Like Anna Nicole shopping for a husband, I'm just looking for a pulse.

A few more thoughts on the game:

  • I loved that Porter said the Browns couldn't win despite having "every bounce go their way." When the other team's field goal attempt hits the crossbar and comes back, and your team's field goal attempt hits the upright and goes through, that is a six point swing based on fractions of an inch. Pretty huge bounces in a 4-point game, huh? Whenever he makes a play, I think Joey celebrates by pretending to boot a math book.
  • When the Browns went for it on 4th-and-1 at the Steelers 10, then followed it up with a pair of conservative runs, the inevitable Frye-scrambling-for-his-life incompletion on 3rd-and-long, and then the field goal they could have kicked in the first place…it was kinda like standing under the bedroom window of your unrequited love while blasting "In Your Eyes" from a boom box, and then when she tearfully rushes down to pledge her everlasting love to you, telling her that you've been hurt before so you just want to be friends.
  • It was weird that on OSU-Michigan weekend, Braylon Edwards was making plays for the Right Team and Santonio Holmes was making plays for the Wrong Team.
  •  Speaking of which, can't the NFL make this happen every year? Buckeyes-Wolverines on Saturday, followed by Browns-Steelers on Sunday? And then can't Ted Strickland's first act as governor be to introduce a bill that would make the Friday before and the Monday after a state holiday? It's not like anything gets done anyway. Boston has Patriot Day. Why can't we have Good vs. Evil Weekend?
  •  If I were to throw the stat "3-for-22" at you, you might think it was the Indians' batting line against Tampa's Seth McClung when the 2005 season was on the line. Or you might think it was the Cavaliers' shooting percentage in the 4th quarter in Game 7 against the Pistons. But it's actually the Browns' recent unparalleled run of success against the Steelers.

I (heart) sports.

But enough of this depressing Browns-Steelers gibberish. The holidays are rapidly approaching, meaning suicides will be peaking any week now, so there's no sense in me prematurely kicking the chairs out from under the noosed.

Instead, I will finish this update by telling you that there is a creepy kind of Stepford happiness that has washed over Central Ohio in the wake of Ohio State's 42-39 victory over Michigan. You could literally get away with murder and nobody would care.

I almost deleted that last sentence as gratuitous hyperbole, but then I realized it's true. For example, imagine getting into a high-speed chase with the police. As you elude your pursuers dressed in blue, you then, on the fly, fire a bullet across your body and hit your target right in the chest from 50 yards away. When the police finally apprehend you, you say that you were doing a conceptual homage to 2006 Heisman Trophy winner Troy Smith. The police would start the "OH!" "IO!" chant with you as they unlock your cuffs and let you off with a warning not to try such an awesome Troy Smith tribute with the real Brian Robiske.

Of course, I shouldn't joke about murder considering the usual crime wave that follows a Buckeye victory over the Wolverines. But this year, the university and the city did a great job of securing campus and ensuring that things didn't get out of hand. I applaud their efforts, even though it robbed me of my favorite joke that I made up two years ago…

ME: How do you get a Michigan grad off of your porch?

BUCKEYE FAN: Pay him for the pizza!

ME: No, you upholster him so that OSU students will haul him to a dumpster and set him on fire.

(It should be noted that many Buckeye fans in Columbus have ZERO sense of humor about their team or school. Whenever I told that joke, people recoiled as if I were telling Yo Momma jokes at an orphanage.)

Anyway, one last thing before I go…

SOOPER DOOPER BROWNS-BENGALS PREDICTION:

You'll recall that the Bengals whupped the Browns earlier this season, back when Cincy looked like a playoff team. That was a long time ago. Two weeks ago, they gave up 42 points in the second half. Last week, they gave up over 600 yards of offense. In light of these staggering statistics, I fully expect Charlie Frye to engineer four field goal drives, and for the Browns to get a 5th field goal off of a turnover deep in Bengals territory. Either Cribbs or Northcutt will contribute a special teams touchdown. However, it won't be enough, as the Bengals will score 21 4th quarter points against an exhausted defense.

Bengals 31, Browns 22.**

** Last time was 34-17. The Bengals haven't been able to stop much of anything, so they are sure as hell won't be able to stop Romeo Crennel's March Of Progress As Measured In Loss Improvement.


Until next week,

Sirk


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