So, this past Monday night's Pittsburgh Steeler contest quickly turned into a fiesta with the addition of alcohol, a Tuesday day off and a visit from Super Fan Pappy Fried Chicken.
8:30 pm: Pappy arrives and brings his girl. Now, Pappy's got a great girl, but she happens to have been born into a Patriots' rich household. I can only give him my condolences. Pappy, may God have mercy on your soul.
8:55 pm: Pappy and I debate the legitimacy of Jacksonville. One thing we agree on: the Jacksonville Jaguars won't be able to field a team as good as the 14 - 2 beast of 1999. At least not in the next few years.
9:00 pm: The ESPN crew all pick San Diego to win. Of course they do. This was the same group that all picked New England to beat San Diego and Pittsburgh to beat New England. Do you see a pattern forming here?
9:02 pm: Pappy says if the Steelers win this game they will start to get respect in this league. Then he goes to get more wine. Yes. It's a wine night. Get over it.
9:04 pm: Yellowtail Shiraz. Inexpensive, yet pretty good for the price. Earlier it was Aurora White from the Foxwoods Winery in northern western PA. Nice little winery. Visit it sometime.
9:05 pm: We talk about the board posters. Yes, we actually talked about you. All good stuff. Really. Don't believe me? Well...back to the game.
9:06 pm: Saw the preview for the new ABC sitcom Freddie. Why is Freddie Prinz Jr. popular? Really, now people. If I hear, "You came with a label!", one more time...
9:07pm: Kickoff. Nice to see the San Diego Powder Blue out for the game. Retro uniform looks in the NFL is usually a good thing. Unless you are the Steelers.
9:08 pm: Girl Apple calls out "Holding! They called holding! Did I get that right?". At least that's what I was told she said. I sure do zone everything out watching a game.
9:09 pm: Pappy wonders why the Chargers feel the need to wave towels, although he's quick to point out there are nice number of yellow towels in that group. Apparently there were close to 10,000.
9:12 pm: Ben's a little high on his second pass, but I'm paying more attention to Pappy's nice new Steeler wallet. I hope the Girl Apple is taking notes.
9:15 pm: The seal is broken.
9:16 pm: Chargers go empty set to start the game. Hmmm. Don't they have the greatest running back in the history of the world or something? At least that's what the MNF countdown crew thinks.
9:18 pm: Girl Apple likes "Crazy Hair Man" or Troy Polamalu for those in the know. Although she says that she's afraid he'll get pulled down by the hair sometime, which would probably hurt. Nice push by the Steelers on third down.
9:19 pm: Pappy yells, "Run forward! Why don't they go to the Rod Woodson school of punt returning?" I'm wondering why LT doesn't touch the ball once in the first series.
9:21 pm: Pappy's girlfriend's family likes to get drunk and have family synchronized swimming contests. I swear to God I'm not making that up. Only Patriots fans. Only Patriots fans.
9:24 pm: LT sighting. The first of many.
9:28 pm: Holding penalty on a fair catch. Second special teams penalty. They are really bringing the word "special" back into special teams. On a related note: Why can't all return team penalties after the kick be null and void if a player calls for a fair catch? Think about it.
9:30 pm: Nice catch by Cedrick the Wide Receiver. Pappy says, "Perfect pass." And it was. It was in the only place where his receiver could catch the ball. This is followed by a Heath Miller sighting.
9:32 pm: Simmons with the penalty. Pappy comments on the referee's on-camera technique during the penalty announcement, "He had to look at his fingers! Did you see that? He had to look at his fingers!"
9:34 pm: Bettis is in the game. And it's a screen play. "That's the best screen play the Steelers have run in the last ten years," Pappy says. "He looks a little chubby, but he fits their system." Chubby is an understatement. Two plays later and Bettis is already winded.
9:50 pm: The Girl Apple offers apple pie. I'm serious. It's really good pie.
9:51 pm: "That is Hines Ward leadership!" - Pappy on Ward's touchdown. Four games in and he's already earned his contract.
9:52 pm: Schottenheimer challenges, but really, he wasn't touched. As Pappy says, "He completely fanned!" But, in the alternate universe this officiating crew apparently comes from, the foot was touched somewhere.
9:56 pm: Another holding call?
9:57 pm: Randle El catches a pass in the open and he's off to the races. "Don't lateral it!" yells Pappy.
9:58 pm: Designed run by Ben Rothelisberger catches the San Diego blitz compeltely out of position. Someone give Ken Whisenhunt some props for that call. In unrelated news, Pappy's girlfriend was absent for the touchdown. Hmmm. Although, she did know that was Ben's first rushing touchdown of the year. I just keep thinking of the movie "Sleeping With the Enemy".
10:03 pm: "LT? Where'd ya go?" Pappy's baiting the enemy.
10:09 pm: Girl Apple's had a lot of wine. She's still talking about "Crazy Hair Man".
10:10 pm: Madden's made up a new word. "Quickler." By the way, has he said the name Roethlisberger correctly yet?
10:11 pm: James Harrison intercepts a pass and looks like Roger Kingdom. Both great images.
10:15 pm: Two personal fouls and the Chargers are in a little trouble.
10:18 pm: First and goal from the two. Jerome Bettis anyone?
10:25 pm: The Apple apartment erupts again after what seems to be the 10th Bettis run inside the two. Girl Apple is literally almost asleep. It's the wine folks. The heart's in it, but the body is saying no.
10:39 pm: Quincy Morgan drops a pass that had touchdown written all over it. That's why he's been released twice. folks.
10:45 pm: Girl Apple hits the mattress. We are all surprised she lasted this long.
10:50 pm: Halftime highlights. Why did Tim McGraw sell out? Shut up Arnold.
10:52 pm: Pappy and I agree on another point. ABC sitcoms blow. It's like the CBS sitcoms of the late eighties. Except for Murphy Brown, it was a pretty empty tank for CBS.
10:57 pm: And we're back to action. Some heavy hitting tonight. And the front seven are getting great push from their defensive line.
11:02 pm: Roethlisberger escapes an interception. Pappy and I literally have nothing to say but shake our heads.
11:07 pm: The Steelers are victims of literally the most ridiculous call I've ever seen. I swear, did this officiating team make some sort of back room deal with Michael Corleone? I understand the rule, but if return man so obviously muffs a catch how can he get a second chance?
11:22 pm: A screen pass to Heath Miller? I haven't in my life ever seen that. Pappy hates the screen call.. I liked it. We agree to disagree. Too bad we aren't politicians.
11:33 pm: Bettis bumps it to the outside in the slowest "bump" to the outside I've ever seen.
11:38 pm: Third quarter ends and we've lost another member of the group. Pappy's girl calls it a night. In an unrelated topic, does anyone care about Michele Tayofa? I mean that's nice she's having a baby, but really, there is a great game on the screen. Do we really need to divert from it? Me thinks this is a microcosm of why ABC's MNF rating hasn't been good in a long time.
11:43 pm: Pappy and I are ready to break some windows. This raping of the Steelers by the referees is getting ridiculous. Antonio Gates didn't even attempt to catch the ball because it was well over his head and the Steelers are called for pass interference.
12:15 pm: I had to put down the laptop because I was afraid of where it might end up with all the anger in this apartment right now.
12:20 pm: I'm man enough to admit that I not only embraced Pappy after Jeff Reed's kick, but I literally jumped into his arms. I have a feeling I probably shouldn't have mentioned it.
12:30 pm: I'm determined to stay up through Sportscenter to see all the Steeler highlights and updates on Ben Roethlis...lis...li...zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
1. Jacksonville 23 Cincinnati 20 - The clash between the ferocious felines proved to be all that it was billed. Although he came out on top, Byron "He of the Slowest Windup" Leftwich wasn't very accurate, overthrowing many a receiver. But, the Jaguars were boosted by Fred Taylor's best game of the year, jumping over the century mark. Although down 20 - 7 early in the third quarter, Carson "He of two last names" Palmer found promising drives stopped by a poor fourth down run and a fumble where Palmer got too casual with his ball handling. This game puts Cincinnati and Jacksonville firmly within the second tier of AFC talent.
2. New England 31 Atlanta 28 - What happened to the Atlanta Falcon defense? After sacking Daunte Culpepper 9 times the previous week, the Falcons could only knock Tom Brady to the floor once. But, what was more disturbing was the absolute lack of tackling techique the Falcons displayed. The Patriots on the other hand finally found success in the running game, which firmly opened up the secondary for the talented tight ends and wide recievers the Patriots still sport.
3. Dallas 33 Philadelphia 10 - At what point does Andy Reid take over his team and pull Donovan McNabb? I mean with the pounding McNabb took on Sunday, I'll be surprised if he'll last all season. As for the Cowboys, they might have found a diamond in the rough with rookie Tyrel Thompson.
4. Denver 21 Washington 19 - The Redskins defense almost allowed this team to steal a win in Colorado. However, Mark Brunnel couldn't find an open receiver on a failed 2-point conversation that would have tied the game late in the fourth quarter. The Broncos didn't get much going over the air, but Tatum Bell's one big play was the difference.
5. Buffalo 20 Miami 14 - There are big problems in Buffalo right now. Sure, they won the game, but the Bills have turned away from their future and handed the reigns to Kelly Holcomb, the former savior of Cleveland who in all reality is just an average backup quarterback. This makes me think Mike Mularkey believes his Bills have a chance to win the AFC East. Unlike Cincinnati, where Marvin Lewis gave the ball to Carson Palmer knowing that he'd struggle early, Mularkey apparently doesn't follow that same formula. In three years, when the Bills are still average, the Bengals will be winning division championships; you'll remember Mularkey's mistake.
6. Cleveland 20 Chicago 10 - I must admit I predicted the Browns to not win over four games this year. Yet, they end the first quarter of the season at .500. Romeo Crennel must be doing something right.
Apple Pie Six-Pack
1. St. Louis Rams at Indianapolis Colts (GOTW) - This is the first big test for the Indianapolis defense. The over/under of this game could be about 60. On a side note, why did MNF bill this game as Peyton Manning and the Colts versus Steven Jackson and the Rams? Steven Jackson? Torry Holt would have made more sense.
2. New England Patriots at Denver Broncos - This could have easily been the GOTW, but it's not week 14 and hindsight being 20-20 perhaps I'd have chosen differently. But, regardless, this game is big for both teams. The Broncos have a chance to open a commanding lead in the AFC West, while New England just tries to tread water in the East.
3. NY Giants at Dallas Cowboys - As if the NFC East could have forgotten about them, the Cowboy's statement game last week sets up a huge visit from the Giants. Big Blue comes into town and the NFC East division lead is up for grabs.
4. Washington Redskins at Kansas City Chiefs - The Redskins, while hamstrung by a top-notch Bronco defense, have a real shot to steal a win in KC. The Redskins run defense is one of their strengths and the Chiefs' ability to run makes all the difference between wins and losses.
5. NY Jets at Buffalo Bills - Someone has to win this game and someone has to challenge the Patriots for the AFC East title. Amazingly, I'd bet on the Jets to win this game. Regardless of the quarterback issue, this Jets team is still almost the same squad that should have won in Pittsburgh last January. The Bills on the other hand are the same team who couldn't beat the same Pittsburgh squad's 2nd and 3rd team players.
6. Cincinnatti Bengals at Tennessee Titans - This is another one of those games that the Bengals must win if they are to be considered a threat to win the AFC North. Playoff teams win games on the road against gutsy, undertalented teams, especially when that playoff team lost the previous week.
Apple Pie Power Rankings
1. Indianapolis Colts - Playing the Niners was like shooting fish in a barrel.
2. Pittsburgh Steelers - Big win in one of the best Monday Night games in a long time.
3. Denver Broncos - Very quietly the Broncos are starting to gain steam.
4. New England Patriots - Finally found Corey Dillon this season.
5. Philadelphia Eagles - McNabb is in pain. Will someone take him out of the game? Please?
6. Atlanta Falcons - With Vick I'm still not sure if the Falcons would have beat the Patriots.
7. San Diego Chargers - Did Keenan McCardell even play on Monday?
8. Cincinnati Bengals - Hard-fought loss in Jacksonville.
9. Washington Redskins - That defense is something special.
10. Jacksonville Jaguars - Still my pick as a wild-card team.
11. Seattle Seahawks - Finally beat the Rams. Perhaps this will make winning the NFC West an earlier event than Week 17.
12. Dallas Cowboys - Bledsoe to Glenn. We've heard that before and we'll hear it again.
Mock Apple Pie
Last Week's Results
DCFB 69 Queenz Chunkz 109
Gemini vs. Grey Groose (Night): Two weeks ago Gemini 9 Darkside 18
Woodside Avenue Cyber Gemini 26 The Sweatin' Sopranos 20
This WeekDCFB (3 - 2) vs.The Astorian Last Stand (2 - 3) - I look to get back on the winning track after two straight blowout losses.
Gemini (0 - 4) vs. The Dogs of War (2 - 2) - Original members battle it out in the first of a back-to-back.
Woodside Ave. Cyber Gemini (4 - 1) vs. Boller's Holy Warriors (4 - 1) - Division leaders square off in the game of the week.
The Steelers/Chargers MNF game was perhaps the best game for ABC in the past 3 years. Even Al Michaels and John Madden seemed to be announcing with their A game. This is what happens when good football is played on Monday night.
It's pretty obvious now that Indianapolis, Pittsburgh, New England and San Diego still are the top tiered teams in the AFC. The Broncos are knocking on the door while Jacksonville and Cincinnati are legit second tier teams. You'd have to think out of these seven teams will come the six playoff teams. So, which one misses? At this point, I may be inclined to pick San Diego.
10/13/05 (Posted by Editor)
From Pappy Fried Chicken's Girlfriend:
"I regret to inform you that my family does not get drunk and do synchronized swimming because they're Patriots fans, but rather because they're dysfunctional alcoholics. But thank you for including me in your article."