Wednesday Apple Pie

Ladies and gentlemen, once again, Bill Cowher's Twelve Days of Christmas.

On the first day of Christmas Bill Cowher gave to me, a losing season for the Steel City.

On the second day of Christmas Bill Cowher gave to me, two useless tight ends and a losing season for the Steel City.

On the third day of Christmas Bill Cowher gave to me, three injured lineman, two useless tight ends and a losing season for the Steel City.

On the fourth day of Christmas Bill Cowher gave to me, four average corners, three injured lineman, two useless tight ends and a losing season for the Steel City.

On the fifth day of Christmas Bill Cowher gave to me, H-I-I-I-I-N-E-S W-A-R-D! Four average corners, three injured lineman, two useless tight ends and a losing season for the Steel City.

On the sixth day of Christmas Bill Cowher gave to me, six wins this season, H-I-I-I-I-N-E-S W-A-R-D! Four average corners, three injured lineman, two useless tight ends and a losing season for the Steel City.

On the seventh day of Christmas Bill Cowher gave to me, seven dodged questions, six wins this season, H-I-I-I-I-N-E-S W-A-R-D! Four average corners, three injured lineman, two useless tight ends and a losing season for the Steel City.

On the eight day of Christmas Bill Cowher gave to me, eight excuses for keeping Jason Gildon, seven dodged questions, six wins this season, H-I-I-I-I-N-E-S W-A-R-D! Four average corners, three injured lineman, two useless tight ends and a losing season for the Steel City.

On the ninth day of Christmas Bill Cowher gave to me, nine looks of agony, eight excuses for keeping Jason Gildon, seven dodged questions, six wins this season, H-I-I-I-I-N-E-S W-A-R-D! Four average corners, three injured lineman, two useless tight ends and a losing season for the Steel City.

On the tenth day of Christmas Bill Cowher gave to me, ten wins next season, nine looks of agony, eight excuses for keeping Jason Gildon, seven dodged questions, six wins this season, H-I-I-I-I-N-E-S W-A-R-D! Four average corners, three injured lineman, two useless tight ends and a losing season for the Steel City.

On the eleventh day of Christmas Bill Cowher gave to me, eleven defenders out of position, ten wins next season, nine looks of agony, eight excuses for keeping Jason Gildon, seven dodged questions, six wins this season, H-I-I-I-I-N-E-S W-A-R-D! Four average corners, three injured lineman, two useless tight ends and a losing season for the Steel City.

On the twelfth day of Christmas Bill Cowher gave to me, a twelfth head coaching season, eleven defenders out of position, ten wins next season, nine looks of agony, eight excuses for keeping Jason Gildon, seven dodged questions, six wins this season, H-I-I-I-I-N-E-S W-A-R-D! Four average corners, three injured lineman, two useless tight ends and a losing season for the Steel City.

Merry Christmas to you and yours and a happy New Year.

Apple Pix-Six: Week 16 Review

1. Denver 31 Indianapolis 17: At some point the Broncos must be considered the best team to draft running backs ever. First Terrell Davis, then Mike Anderson, Orlandis Gary, Clinton Portis and now Quentin Griffin. What is it about the Broncos' scheme that makes these guys good? Is it the blocking, the threat of the pass, the leg-whipping? Probably all three, but Griffin gave the Broncos a new threat in the league's deepest backfield.

2. St. Louis 27 Cincinnati 10: The Bengals stayed close for a while, but no matter how hard Jon Kitna points to the heavens, the Rams weren't going to let any upset happen in the dome. Speaking of Kitna, he hasn't been very good down the stretch. Please don't let that surprise you at all. It did? Well, you just got steamrolled by the media bandwagon that jumped on the shoulders of one Jon "Point to the Heavens" Kitna.

3. Minnesota 45 Kansas City 20: Early in the 4th quarter, after Priest Holmes' third touchdown and the game was 31 – 20, you could feel the momentum shifting against the home Vikings. The Chiefs had a repeat of their comeback over the Packers in mind. But an unnecessary roughness penalty on the ensuing kickoff placed the ball on their own 45 and 5 plays later, Ontarrio Smith ran it into the endzone from 11 yards own. Game. Set. Match.

4. San Francisco 31 Philadelphia 28 (OT): Oh, the Eagles get coal for Christmas. They've opened the door for the Rams to have home field advantage throughout the playoffs, which could mean a 3rd straight NFC Championship loss for the Eagles. Psst…Andy Reid…that's futility of epic proportions…or shall we say "Bill Cowher" proportions.

5. Dallas 19 NY Giants3: Cowboy Matt, you can breathe easy now. There is nothing like a visit from the NY Giants to cure the Cowboys' losing streak. The ‘Boys are in the playoffs for the first time since 1998. Do they remember what to do when they get there?

6. Green Bay 41 Oakland 7: Never ever bet against Bret Favre when he undergoes personal tragedy. Better yet, never bet against Bret Favre. Over 300 yards passing in the first half is ridiculous, even against the lowly Raiders. You've got to think his father is in his mind every time he throws the ball.

Apple Pix-Six: Week 17

1. Cleveland at Cincinnati (GOTW): Here is the deal. If the Bengals win, the Ravens must win Sunday night over the Steelers to win the division. If the Bengals lose, the Ravens win the division before dinnertime. I'm betting the Bengals win, forcing the Ravens to beat Pittsburgh. At one point, I mused that whichever of the three divisional teams to beat the Steelers the second go-around would win the division. At this point, that would be the Bengals, but the Ravens can change all of that simply with a win.

2. Denver at Green Bay: Denver is in. The Packers want to be in. If Seattle wins on Saturday over the Niners, the Packers must win and hope the Vikings lose. If the Seahawks lose, then the Packer must only win and they get the final wild card based on the head-to-head tiebreaker. MMMkay?

3. Seattle at San Francisco: Read above. AND, if Seattle loses and the Packers lose, then the Seahawks are still in the playoffs.

4. Indianapolis at Houston: The Colts win the AFC South with a victory in Houston or if the Titans lose to Tampa Bay.

5. Tampa Bay at Tennessee: Read previous and deduce.

6. St. Louis at Detroit: If the Rams win then it doesn't matter what the Eagles did on Saturday against the Redskins because the Rams will have home field advantage throughout the playoffs and be the weakest #1 seed since Kansas City in 1997.

The Playoff Power Core Rankings: Week 17

Hell no, this is not a prediction of how the playoffs would break down if they began today.

AFCNFC
1New England – The Pats still on top St. Louis – Worst #1 seed in recent memory.
2 Denver – Could sneak into Super Bowl Philadelphia – No excuse for losing to Niners at home
3 Kansas City – Smacked hard by Vikings Dallas – Ate Giants up like fodder, but still have issues at running back
4Tennessee – Eked out a win; Mcnair still hurtGreen Bay – Caught up to the Vikings
5 Indianapolis – Dungy out-coached by Shanahan Carolina – Clinched NFC South
6 Baltimore – Wishes they played Cleveland every week Minnesota – See KC

Fruits of Labor (stock is rising)

  • Troy Polamulu – Gets a sack, forced fumble, and hey he's a Jedi Knight! That's a-okay in my book.

Rotten Produce (stock is falling)

  • Jeff Reed Mr. Reed, you can pick up your belongings in the lobby and don't let the door hit you on your way out.

Missed Point Opportunities (MPO)

TeamPittsburghSan Diego
DrivesNone 7th Drive (Fumble)
8th Drive (Interception)
10th Drive (Interception)
1 point for 5 or more 3-and-out series
Score04

Season MPO Record: 6 – 9

Wisdom From the Girl Apple

Girl Apple: Do you know how hard it is to find Steeler memorabilia in New York City?

Apple: I can imagine.

Girl Apple: Oh well, I was going to find you a Jerome Bettis jersey before his career as a Steeler ends.

Apple: You really think he's done? I mean Jim and Dale are both starting to think he might stay for another season. I'd like to see it.

Girl Apple: He's gone.

Apple: What if he takes a pay cut?

Girl Apple: Nope. They lost with him and Amos. They can lose without them too.

Apple: But…

Girl Apple: He has not controlled a game in years.

Apple: Right…but…

Girl Apple: It's business. He knows that. He knows he's gone and his teammates know that too. That's why you see his teammates lobbying for one more season from Bettis. But that money could be used in other places.

Apple: Bah Humbug too you too.

Girl Apple: I guess you didn't want to hear my thoughts on Bettis. But remember, I've been wrong, once or twice in our relationship. Maybe this is the third time.

Apple: Just more wisdom from the Girl Apple folks.

Super Pappy Fried Chicken's Keys To The Game

  • Things must have been going a little to well for me recently because the insatiable appetite of my empty wallet deemed it necessary for me to attend my life sucking job instead of finally enjoying a Steelers' victory worth writing home about. Yes I had to work. As for this week, in the spirit of the holidays, I have more of a wish list than keys to the game.
  • My first wish is to let Barry Sanders keep his single season rushing record and not lose it to that jack hole Jamal Lewis. That means the defense needs to be absolutely 'lights out'. Even if they have to put eleven men in the box, stop him.
  • Play the young guys. Cowher almost used the first round draft pick on Alonzo Jackson, but we haven't seen him at all this year. We all know that Dewayne Washington is done and gone after Sunday. Deshea Townsend seems to have found a spot in the secondary. Now let's see what Ike Taylor has to offer.
  • Jerome Bettis is an upstanding guy who has been a model of what an NFL player should be and he deserves every spot he can climb to on the all-time rushing list. This may be his last game ever, so give him his glory and let the offensive line have one of the best games of their careers.
  • It also would be nice to give Tommy Maddox the gift of a stable pocket for the last game of the season. He is a good solid quarterback who has been running for his life all season. It would be a travesty to see him end the season on his back.
  • Happy Holidays to all and enjoy this one like it is the last one, ‘cause it's gonna be a long off-season.

Thoughts Assisted By Yuengling

  • After watching Andrea Kramer interview Joe Namath on Saturday night during the game, I think we all have the same question: Was Joe drunk and did he give Andrea tongue?
  • At one point on Saturday, Randy Moss had more yards from scrimmage than the entire Kansas City offense.
  • Why can't we draft a Quentin Griffin or even a Clinton Portis?
  • I don't care how much I like Tommy Maddox, if Eli Manning is available the Steelers must take him.
  • Greg Gumble showed more emotion on Saturday during the Vikings win over Chiefs than I ever heard from him in his previous 30+ broadcasts. If he continues to do that, I might start to enjoy his style. It won't do anything for his ranking in the broadcasting grades, but it's something to build on for next season.
  • Chad Pennington sure didn't look like Joe Montana on Saturday.
  • That was a perfect game plan against Indianapolis last night. Jason "The Bronco Fan" is smiling today.
  • It's been another fun season of Apple Pie. As the off-season progresses, Apple Pie will once again change formats. You'll see "Bites From the Steel Apple" along with more "Thoughts". You'll get the "Broadcast Announcing Team Grades" and playoff previews.
  • That being said, you can catch me at Pittsburgh.theinsiders.com covering the Pitt men's basketball team all the way through March Madness starting after January 1st.
  • A special thank you wish to Joe, Jim W., Dale, Jim R., John S., Donny, Amy and Hawg for your support, having me back, and allowing me to write about things other than the Steelers every Wednesday.
  • Also, special thanks to Girl Apple, Super Fan Pappy Fried Chicken, Cowboy Matt, Laura the Red, and Jason the Bronco Fan. You'll hear from me the throughout the off-season and into next season.
  • Thank you to the recently deceased Wesley Willis and his former label for not suing my butt off!

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