Wednesday Apple Pie

Forgive me for thinking the Pittsburgh Steelers might have actually gutted out a win, but that was asking too much on Monday night. After Hines Ward left the field with an injury, the Steelers marched down the field, seemingly in his honor, to cut the San Francisco lead to three points.

After forcing the punt and gaining good field position, the Steelers were poised to tie the game or even (gasp!) take the lead. But, in true fashion to the season, a sack, a 73-yard touchdown run by Kevan Barlow, and a predictable special teams snafu drove the final stake into a dismal season.

So, where do the Steelers go from here? They could play the spoiler, go on a late season run, or continue to lose in pathetic, lethargic fashion. I'm voting for the latter. If we've learned anything from Bill Cowher teams, they either end on a great winning streak or a terrible losing streak. And with the Cleveland Browns hosting next week, the Steelers are prime for another losing cycle.

So, this will be the last you hear of what's gone wrong with the Steelers this season, instead this column will start to focus on key players whose play will be imperative to any success the Steelers hope to have next season. I refuse to spend any more time jamming the problems of this team down your collective throats by using the valuable space of the opening monologue (if you will).

Does it sound like I'm throwing in the towel? If your answer was "yes", then you're right! You win a prize. Forgive me for being a little brusque, but my patience for this Cowher-led, mentally untough, sloppy…oh…I could go on, but I'd rather get to the rest of the week.

Apple Pix-Six: Week 11 Review

1. Green Bay 20 Tampa Bay 13: The Battle of the Bays ends with Tampa's playoff hopes dwindling. John Lynch said that he still thinks his team is the best team in the NFL when it plays to its highest performance level. Um…Mr. Lynch…are you watching the same team the rest of the country is watching or are you just delusional?

2. Miami 9 Baltimore 6 (OT): Jamal Lewis would be the best back in football if he didn't fumble in key situations. Miami did its best to help out the Steelers with a big win, but we know how well the Steelers respond to gifts.

3. New England 12 Dallas 0: A lack of offense against good defenses is the obstacle the Cowboys will be unable to overcome. That being said, that Cowboy defense should help them win the division and a playoff game.

4. Cincinnati 24 Kansas City 19: The Bengals played their best game in 10 years on Sunday and knocked off the Chiefs. Dolphin fans everywhere breathe easy. This is just a stumbling block for the Chiefs and the Bengals are the frontrunners for the AFC North title.

5. Philadelphia 28 NY Giants 10: The Eagles are a hot team right now. They still don't have a fabulous offense, but with the dynamic Brian Westbrook coming into his own, the Eagles may not need one.

6. Oakland 28 Minnesota 18: Could the Vikings really be blowing what was an incredible start to a season? Could the Bill Romanowski be using illegal substances to enhance his body? Yes and yes.

Apple Pix-Six: Week 12

1. San Francisco at Green Bay (GOTW) – The murder part of the Packer schedule begins to come to a close. First Philadelphia, then Tampa, and now the Niners. Both teams need to win to stay in the divisional races. The Niners though need this game just a little more. The loser will be out of a wild card tiebreaker.

2. New Orleans at Philadelphia – The Eagles may have clinched a wild card last week unofficially, but they can seal the fate of the rolling Saints with a victory. The Saints are putting together a nice little win streak, but it is too little too late.

3. Carolina at Dallas – This is a huge game for both teams. As was the case last week, Dallas will have trouble scoring so that #1 defense has to carry the team again. The Panthers are looking at this game as a tiebreaker for home field advantage. That's right, the road to the Super Bowl could go through Carolina. There is something inherently wrong with that statement.

4. Miami at Washington – The Skins are playing for pride while the Dolphins are fighting for their wild card lives. Last week's win over Baltimore was big, especially since the Ravens will be searching for a wild card spot instead of a division championship, now that they seriously have no quarterback.

5. Seattle at Baltimore – Baltimore ends their grueling stretch against NFC West-leading Seattle. The Seahawks could put up some big points on the Ravens if Baltimore can't keep their offense on the field.

6. Cincinnati at San Diego – Okay, if the Bengals are really not Bungles any longer, they will win this game. If they don't win, then maybe all of this talk of Cincinnati becoming a power again is premature.

The Complete Power Core Rankings: Week 12

  1. Kansas City – We saw this loss coming, but they're still the best team in the NFL.
  2. Tennessee – The Titans catch up to the Chiefs and could sneak the homefield advantage away from KC because of the ease of their remaining schedule.
  3. New England – After a sophomoric slump, Tom Brady is looking like his rookie self.
  4. Carolina – Big game in Big D.
  5. Seattle – Seattle in first place. Oakland in last place. Yes, hell has frozen over.
  6. Green Bay – Stealing the NFC North from the Vikings.
  7. Indianapolis – Edge James has finally returned.
  8. Dallas – You'll need more offense than Quincy Carter to get to the Super Bowl.
  9. Philadelphia – Hottest team in the NFC sans Carolina.
  10. St. Louis – The Rams eke out the win in Chicago.
  11. Denver – Jake Plummer is back and Denver beats up on the Chargers.
  12. Minnesota – The Vikings are falling faster than a coke can falling from the Empire State Building.
  13. Miami – The Dolphins win an ugly game. That's good. Ricky Williams needs 5000 carries to break 100 yards. That's not good.
  14. San Francisco – Jennifer Garner goes to ABC Studio.
  15. Baltimore – Surprise, Jamal Lewis fumbles at a critical moment…again.
  16. Cincinnati – Rudi! Rudi! Rudi! Rudi!
  17. Tampa Bay – The champs are still the champs until the last game of the season.
  18. New Orleans – Nice streak. But it shouldn't save Jim Haslett's job.
  19. Cleveland – No KJ. No problem.
  20. Buffalo – Bledsoe needs some protection. He might have also hit a wall.
  21. NY Jets – Was that Curtis Martin out there, running like he was 24 again?
  22. NY Giants – I've said all of my fill about this team, but I'll say it again. Overrated.
  23. Pittsburgh – The season is over. Let's go Pens…er…Panthers…er…wait till next year.
  24. Houston – The Texans play hard for an expansion team. The same can't be said for the team just ahead in the rankings on both accounts.
  25. Washington – I think Steve Spurrier might want to just stay in Florida after this weekend.
  26. Chicago – Should have beaten the Rams.
  27. Jacksonville – They play tough. Give them credit. They almost stole a win over the Titans.
  28. San Diego – This is a bad team, but at this point these are all bad teams.
  29. Oakland – Hallucinations. That's why Al Davis thinks his club is younger than it really is.
  30. Atlanta – Get out Michael Vick, before you even get in.
  31. Arizona – Get out Jeff Blake, before you lose your head.
  32. Detroit – Get out Matt, but you've become obsolete.

Fruits of Labor (stock is rising)

  • Alan Faneca He'll command top dollar next time he's up for free agency. The Steelers better give him every penny.

Rotten Produce (stock is falling)

  • Jeff Reed Sometimes you just got to be angry at someone. I'll give this one to Reed only because he almost missed the point after attempt after Jerome Bettis' touchdown and then missed a field goal attempt in the 4th quarter that the team desperately needed.

Missed Point Opportunities (MPO)

TeamPittsburghSan Francisco
Drives2nd Drive (Punt after entering SF territory)4th Drive (FG after INT)
4th Drive (Punt after entering SF territory)
8th Drive (Punt after good field position)
10th Drive (Fumble on kickoff)

Season MPO Record: 3-7

Wisdom From the Girl Apple

Girl Apple: Can you just throw the towel in?

Apple: Yes. I've already done that.

Girl Apple: So where do you go from here?

Apple: Well, you're the wise one, you tell me.

Girl Apple: First you need to console Super Pappy Fried Chicken.

Apple: Yeah, he's having a breakdown.

Girl Apple: But, more importantly you need to make sure your readers understand that this isn't going to be a yearly thing for the Steelers. As you said, there is too much talent for them to be this bad.

Apple: But, if Cowher is still around next year…

Girl Apple: All in good time, my dear

Apple: Just more wisdom from the Girl Apple.

Super Pappy Fried Chicken's Keys To The Game

Due to technical difficulties (SPFC's heart is broken), there is no Pappy Fried Chicken this week.

Thoughts Assisted By Yuengling

  • It just wouldn't as bad if the Steelers defense didn't make every run-of-the-mill quarterback look like Joe Montana.
  • The second KJ to be shunned by his team this week is Keyshawn Johnson. As with Kevin Johnson, Keyshawn is a cancer in the locker room and the Bucs are making it known that they refuse to have his mentality around their franchise. If only Bill Cowher were as ballsy in his choices.
  • Patrick Ramsey needs to be told that he should rest the remainder of the season. He's been playing on a broken foot. Patrick, toughness is one thing, but toughness for toughness' sake is another. Sit. Relax. Get healthy. You are the team's franchise quarterback. Save it for another season.
  • But with the way backups are winning jobs in the NFL, he's probably too scared to take the chance.
  • That being said, the reason backup quarterbacks are having success is that no NFL team has enough game tape to counter. The defenses seem to be always struggling to catch up to the offenses, or at least that's been the case since the Rams hit the scene in 1999. Remember when the Steelers defense of 1994 turned the tide and offenses were forced to catch up with the new "zone blitz" defense? The pendulum will swing the other way, very soon.

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