Wednesday Apple Pie

We've learned one thing about the Pittsburgh Steelers after 4 games. They are, perhaps, the most heartless team Bill Cowher has ever assembled. Yes, Hines Ward is the toughest wide receiver in football and Tommy Maddox can take a lick, but where is the heart elsewhere?

Four or five players aside, this team doesn't have the heart to contend for a Super Bowl. Now, perhaps they will gel in time to salvage a playoff berth, but don't get your hopes up if the team continues in the same direction.

Case in point, this team starts very strong. They've taken the lead in all 4 games and held that lead through the first quarter. Then, something in the two losses invariable went wrong. In the Kansas City game, the Steelers allowed the return for a touchdown. The Titans sacked Tommy Maddox for a safety. In past years the Steelers might not have let such problems get them down. In fact 2 years ago, the Steelers suffered a safety in front of a threatening Cleveland crowd. This game was in fact the one following the heartbreaking, Kris Brown disaster against Baltimore. The Steelers could have very easily thrown in the towel. But, they didn't. They took the shot and fought back.

This team doesn't fight back. They hope to get a big lead and hope to dodge shots. They play not to lose. It's evident with their ridiculous red-zone efficiency. It shows with their commitment to the running game. It shows with the patience that the team fails to display when the going gets rough. It shows with the inability of the special teams units to focus.

In a nutshell, it shows.

It has been mentioned in this column before that Jerome Bettis has more heart in his pinky than Amos Zereoue does in his whole body. Therefore, Bettis should be starting. I don't care if he's on his last legs. Why do you think Eddie George continues to start when Robert Holcomb is probably a little quicker? George wears his heart on his sleeve.

It's also perhaps part of the reason why Chris Doering has comparable numbers to Antwaan Randle El.

Somewhere in the scheme of things the sweat, blood, and tears Pittsburgh Steelers turned into the fancy, tricky Pittsburgh Steelers. I don't mind the tricky, but let's get the fancy out of the equation. "Fancy" doesn't win Super Bowls, but heart can achieve anything.

Apple Pix-Six: Week 4 Review

Kansas City 17 Baltimore 10: Except for that aberration in week one, the Ravens could very well be the best team in the AFC North. That's not the case for the Chiefs, as they continue to show why they are the best team in the NFL.

Philadelphia 23 Buffalo 13: After the quick start, the Bills drop two in a row. I figured the Eagles would make adjustments during the bye week, but I didn't think they'd manhandle the Bills. Then again, with Travis Henry out of the lineup, this is a very, very average team.

Minnesota 35 San Francisco 7: I'm wondering what's happened to the Niners? Well it's becoming obvious that their running game is getting old with Garrison Hearst. Kevan Barlow isn't old, but he doesn't strike fear into anyone's hearts. Terrell Owens is a one-man show. Where's J.J. Stokes when you need him? As for the Vikings, Randy Moss had his best game in 5 years. And this time it was Gus Frerotte behind center, not Randall Cunningham.

Green Bay 38 Chicago 23: The good news is that the Bears scored more than 20 points. The bad news is they still lost. The Packers keep in the hunt for the NFC Central title as a divisional loss would have been really, really bad, to put it uneloquently.

Dallas 14 NY Jets 3: Stick a fork in the Green, because they're done. Jets fans can always look to a high draft pick for a running back and trying to land top-tier receiver in free agency. The Cowboys may not win another 2 games in a row until next year.

Carolina 23 Atlanta 3: The Falcons are officially in trouble. Like the Niners, Steelers, Bills, Patriots and Packers, the Falcons are another pretender to the throne that now needs to go on a mighty impressive winning streak to even get anyone thinking Super Bowl again. The Panthers defense may be the most overlooked in the league. No, wait, it is the most overlooked in the league.

Apple Pix-Six

1. Oakland at Chicago (GOTW): Okay, I know you're asking why this game? Well, I'll tell you Sparky. Kordell Stewart and Rich Gannon are beginning to become after thoughts in the league. The Bears are already toast and the Raiders aren't far behind. If the Bears win, the Raiders won't recover. If the Raiders win, the Bears will be shooting for high draft picks.

2. Denver at Kansas City: Yes, I can't go back and change the GOTW until week 13, BUT, I can say that this game is the first of two that will determine the winner of the AFC West and possibly homefield advantage. Plus, it's Clinton Portis versus Priest Holmes, now that's fun.

3. Washington at Philadelphia: The Eagles finally won a game but now have to return home (where they are 0 – 2) to face the offensive powerhouse that is the Redskins. The Eagles can't afford to get into a shootout, but may be forced to if they can't contain Laverneous Coles.

4. Seattle at Green Bay: Another early must-win for the Pack. The Seahawks on the other hand are cruising right now in the NFC West. Green Bay got Donald Driver back, which means Bret Favre has at least one other weapon besides Ahman Green.

5. Tennesse at New England: The Titans went into Pittsburgh and made the plays to win the game. They didn't overpower the Steelers with any ground game or overpowering passing attack. They won't even need to make that many plays this week, if they just play smart football, like they have been coached for years now.

6. Minnesota at Atlanta: The Falcons really needed to win last week because they now face a Viking team that has come from nowhere to really take control of the NFC Central.

The Complete Power Core Rankings: Week 5

  1. Kansas City – Who was Dante Hall last season?
  2. Tampa Bay – They had the week off so they move neither up nor down.
  3. Denver – Too close of a call against a weak Detroit team.
  4. Indianapolis – Peyton Manning's best game of his career.
  5. Seattle – I still can't believe Seattle is atop the NFC West.
  6. Tennessee – Yes, Virginia, Tennessee is a better team than Pittsburgh.
  7. Miami – September is over. The defense will start its yearly collapse.
  8. Minnesota – Randy Moss? I almost forgot he played football.
  9. NY Giants – Jim Fassel still treading on thin ice for losing to the Cowboys.
  10. Carolina – That Panther defense is one tough group.
  11. Washington – 3 playoff teams could come out of the NFC at least this season.
  12. Buffalo – That was sure one awful performance on Sunday. And I'm not talking about the Steelers.
  13. Pittsburgh – The Steelers need to win on Sunday or their season is in major jeopardy.
  14. New England – The Patriots are 2 – 2. It's a good thing the AFC East isn't as strong as advertised.
  15. Oakland – Wow, a loss to the Chargers would have been embarrassing and deadly.
  16. Baltimore – If Kyle Boller weren't so bad right now, this team would be contending for a top spot on the rankings.
  17. Green Bay – Donald Driver is back. My fantasy teams are now happy again.
  18. San Francisco – What a thrashing against Minnesota. Did Terrell Owens even make it out of his hotel room?
  19. St. Louis – I don't know what to make of this team. The offense isn't that good, but the defense isn't half bad.
  20. Philadelphia – That wasn't the same Eagle team the first two weeks. But, now they have to return home.
  21. Atlanta – The Falcons aren't as talented as everyone thought.
  22. Dallas – Them Cowboys sure love Giants stadium. Too bad they won't visit it again until next year.
  23. New Orleans – Aaron Brooks just plain stinks. It's so obvious to everyone now.
  24. Houston – Gutsy call Dom Capers. You should teach Bill Cowher how to play to win.
  25. Cleveland – Comeback win against the Niners reaps a loss to the Bengals. That doesn't add up quite right.
  26. Detroit – Charles Rogers is going to be a star.
  27. San Diego – Marty officially looking at the classifieds in the Sunday paper.
  28. Cincinnati – Bengals win. Bengals win. THEEEEEAAAA Bengals win.
  29. Arizona – You just knew the Cardinals weren't going to win two in a row.
  30. NY Jets – Curtis Martin jumped the shark 3 years ago.
  31. Jacksonville – The Jaguars are victims of the boldest move this year.
  32. Chicago – Newsflash Chicago: Start Grossman. Begin rebuilding.

Fruits of Labor (stock is rising)

  • Casey Hampton – Fabulous game by the best run stuffer in the league.

Rotten Produce (stock is falling)

  • Tommy Maddox – We've seen more turnover's than previously advertised. He has a chance a surpassing last years INT total. That's not good news.

Missed Point Opportunities (MPO)

Drives3rd Drive (Safety)
4th Drive (2nd FG inside 20)
5th Drive (INT under 2 minutes)
6th Drive (Missed FG)
8th Drive (INT returned for TD)
9th Drive (Punt)
10th Drive (Turnover on Downs at 1)

Season MPO Record: 2 – 2

Wisdom From the Girl Apple

Girl Apple: How badly did your Steelers lose?

Apple: Very badly. It was embarrassing.

Girl Apple: It couldn't be that bad?

Apple: Well, I'm still proud to be a fan, but sometimes they just make me…wait…I ask the questions around here.

Girl Apple: Okay, if you think…I mean…say so. Fire away.

Apple: The Steelers play Cleveland on Sunday night at home in a must-win game. They've been in this position before, playing against Cleveland in a must-win situation at home, and they've lost. Do you think history will repeat itself?

Girl Apple: History always repeats itself when one doesn't learn from past mistakes.

Apple: So, if the Steelers don't learn from their mistakes, they're bound to lose on Sunday.

Girl Apple: Yes.

Apple: Oh.

Girl Apple: What's wrong?

Apple: I thought there would be more to it than that.

Girl Apple: Nope, the best wisdom is usually the most simple.

That's just more wisdom from the Girl Apple.

Super-Fan Pappy Fried Chicken's Keys To The Game

  • There is obviously a problem with the running game. Is it Zereoue? Is it the offensive line? I'll give you a hint. It's both. That's why, if this Steeler team is going to be a serious contender, the O line needs to gel this week. They need to go dahn Primanti's, get a cheese steak with an egg, drink a delicious Yuengling, and maybe give each other a good long hug before they call it a night. Anything to get these guys on the same page and opening some holes. Some blocking for Tommy might be nice too.
  • They also need to give up on Amos. He is a great 'change of pace' back, but he will never be of starting caliber. Why not give one of the young guys a chance against a pretty porous Browns team?
  • The defense needs to keep up the good work against the run and give Chad Scott a swift kick in the pants. He looked like he was fresh out of high school on a couple of plays.
  • Most importantly this week is to win the turnover game. Start blitzing again (where was it last week?) and get in their faces to force mistakes.
  • Finally, don't suck. It makes my head hurt.

Thoughts Assisted By Yuengling

  • Boy that game in Denver is looking more and more like a certain loss. The Steelers better hope they win at home this week.
  • The Steelers opened the Titan game with a nine-minute drive. What happened the rest of the way?
  • I'm going to say that Troy Polamulu will be a serviceable safety, but never the playmaker everyone thought. I know that's not a fair statement to make, but I get these eerie feelings sometimes.
  • The Carolina Panthers will win the NFC South. Bet on it.
  • The Steelers sure could use Stephen Davis right now. Oh wait, wasn't he supposed to be washed up?
  • Eddie George may make a surprise announcement and retire after the season, especially if he has another injury. He just doesn't have the spark anymore. I haven't heard anything, but it's an educated guess.
  • Jason the Bronco fan must be smiling. But, his Broncos started hot last year too.

John Biles

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