Wilson: Fourth time's a charm

It's not very often blogger Ryan Wilson can draw parallels between his more-boring-than-imaginable daily existence and that of a bigger-than-life NFL superstar like Ben Roethlisberger. Of course, those people who know him won't be surprised that the similarities center around bad luck, poor timing and …

… what must obviously be payback for being an awful person in a previous life. But this might be good news for Steelers' fans.

Big Ben's setbacks are well-documented but mine aren't, so allow me the next few paragraphs to vent -- and also explain why Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers could be in the clear as they try to keep their postseason hopes alive:

Big Ben: Motorcycle accident
Me: Some jerk steals wireless internet
Okay, someone piggy-backing off your wireless internet isn't that big a deal. And frankly, when I set it up, I didn't go through the effort to password-protect access to it because I naively thought people wouldn't abuse it. Well, I'm an idiot.

A few week's after installing the software and getting everything to work I noticed that my wireless connection was slower than before the switch and my connection often timed out. Frustrating. A short time later I get a letter from my internet provider informing me that my IP address has been used to illegally download movies. After asking my wife if she had been illegally downloading porn (she didn't find this as funny as I did), I had to go through the painstaking process of re-installing the wireless modem software, this time with password protection. (And yes, I know this is a simple task for the vast majority of homo sapiens, but, well, let's just say technology isn't my strong suit.)

I realize that this is in no way, shape or form can be compared to the seriousness of a helmetless motorcycle accident. I know this. Still, let me just take this opportunity to say that if you have ever "stolen" someone's internet for illegal purposes, I wish really, really bad things on you. It's one thing to check your email, or do some normal I\internet browsing on your buddy's dime, but when you cause such a ruckus that the internet provider feels obligated to send out a written notice, well, then you've gone to far. In your next life, I hope you come back as me. That should teach you.

Strike one.

(In case you're interested, Yahoo! had a whole story on this. I particularly enjoyed some of the inane comments. Just when you thought people couldn't get any dumber... )

Big Ben: Emergency appendectomy
Me: Victim of a hit-and-run
Several weeks after Roethlisberger's appendicitis, I was strolling to my car on weekday morning on my way to work when I noticed the driver's side front fender lying on the ground. As I got closer, I also noticed a series of dents to the front left side of the car thanks to what I can only assume was a hit-and-run. Either that, or an elephant got loose on our street, and accidentally smashed up my car.

I should also note that "my car" is a 1997 Jeep Cherokee Sport with 170,000 miles on it (my wife drives "her car" and it's much newer; as it should be, or so I'm told). I love this Jeep, and I took solace in the fact that whoever hit it probably paid a steep price. I grew up in North Carolina and somehow managed to escape without learning anything about cars (as proof, my wife often posits theories about various Jeep maladies while I stare at her like she just sprouted three heads or something), but I do know this: 1997 Jeep Cherokee Sports are very sturdy automobiles and I can only hope and pray the numbnut who collided with it was in a Honda CRX or some such fiberglass bucket. I guess I should've taken a stroll around the neighborhood looking for some dude limping for a cab but I would've been late for work.

Instead, I just stood there for a few seconds, surveyed the damage, did a 180, returned to the apartment and informed my wife that she had been drafted into taxi duty thanks to some thoughtless idiot (or thoughtless elephant, depending on what you believe).

Strike two.

Big Ben: Concussion
Me: Victim of a hit-with-the-rental-car
After the hit-and-run we get the Jeep towed to the body shop and they get to work on bringing her back to life. In the meantime, my wife gets a rental car through the insurance company. The day before we're to pick up the Jeep, my wife calls and we have the following conversation:

"You'll never guess what happened."


(I should mention that I got a plasma television a few weeks ago and my biggest fear -- especially in light of my recent run on unbelievably crappy luck -- was that it would get stolen. So when my wife asked me the question above, my first thought was, "Great, the TV's been taken hostage.")

"I came out of work and noticed that someone had hit the car in the parking lot … the rental car."

"Are you kidding me?"

(Meanwhile, I'm giving myself mental high-fives because at least I know the television is safe.)

"No. Why would I kid about something like that?"

Long story short, one of my wife's co-workers backed into the rental car. The day before we were to return it. And in case you've never had the pleasure of dealing with a rental car company after such an accident -- and assuming you weren't duped into buying their super nifty insurance -- you have to pay your deductible, even if the accident's not your fault. Freakin' awesome.

The good news is that you'll get it back once your insurance company sorts out everything with the guilty party's insurance company, but that was little of consolation at the time.

Strike three.

Yep, me and Big Ben struck out ... but that's not the end of it. The good news is that bad things happen in threes. By my count, both Roethlisberger and I are in prime positions to turn things around. This little whining session was a long-winded way of saying I fully expect the Steelers to storm into the playoffs, and my lucrative six-figure job should be just around the corner. Well, when I frame it like that, you have to feel good about Pittsburgh's chances, anyway. (And yeah, I just wanted to bellyache about my recent run of crappy luck.)

Alrighty, in the words of the late, great Bob Ross, "Let's have some fun":

  • Here are two funny headlines on Big Ben's most recent injury troubles.
  • Ed Bouchette is quickly becoming the grumpiest person on the planet ... and rightfully so. I have no idea who at the Post-Gazette is behind his "Daily Question" and weekly online chats, but after reading a few you get the impression Bouchette is participating against his will.

    I have a question (but not for Bouchette, specifically): What did all the crazy people do before the internets? I mean, before online chats and questions of the day, how did they get their ridiculous points across? Countless letters to the editor? Random phone calls to their favorite reporter? Stalking? I know technology is great and all, but I don't blame Bouchette for seeming a little cranky.

    But who knows, maybe people ask mind-numbing questions because they like to get a rise out of Bouchette. If that's the case, here's my submission (and yes, I stole it):

    We are 2-1 at home, 0-3 on the road. However, a closer inspection shows we are 1-2 in games starting after 8PM, 1-1 in games after 4PM, and 0-1 in games at 1PM. Our next 3 games start at 4PM. Should I bet the Steelers to cover each AND bet the Pick 3 (my thermostat will depend on your answer)?
    That should get him sufficiently lathered up.
  • Amid the chaos, Bouchette did unearth this interesting tidbit in Monday's Daily Question:
    "...I can't fault the lack of a ground game because Atlanta was so intent on stopping it. I counted 10 Falcons defenders at one point gathered within five yards of the line of scrimmage, tight. The Falcons sold out for the run, a big reason the Steelers were able to have success throwing it..."
    And J.J. Cooper, AOL FanHouse Steelers blogger, goes into even more detail with his weekly look at Pittsburgh's offensive line play. I thought it was pretty interesting that even though Kendall Simmons took most of the blame for two of the biggest momentum-changing plays against Atlanta, it's not (a) clear he blew an assignment, and (b) Chris Kemoeatu graded out much better.

    Now, it certainly seemed like Simmons blew two BIG assignments on the Big Ben assassination attempt and the Willie Parker fumble, but I'm willing to give Simmons a break until we have independent confirmation.

  • Before moving on, one last Bouchette Daily question. A reader asks about the inherent unfairness in the current NFL overtime rules. During the coin flip my buddy Andy was yelling "Tails never fail!" right up until the time James Farrior said "heads." Other than that little piece of advice, the team getting the ball first has a much better chance of winning. One remedy, which Bouchette doesn't suggest, is an auction system explained here. It's a pretty cool idea, and knowing Cowher's predilection for hair-brained decisions, I can see the Steelers getting the ball first in every overtime but having an average starting field position of their own 4-yard-line. (Cowher's a lot like Austin Powers when it comes to gambling: he hits on 18 because, "he also likes to live dangerously.")

  • There was a reader request earlier this week for Craig Wolfley to break down the offensive line play. Here are some links to hold you over:

    - General offensive line play - Run blocking - Zone blocking vs. man blocking - Running off-tackle

  • Oh, and after the cut-block-a-thon last week against the Falcons, I dug up this article from earlier in the season. Here's all you need to know:
    "Last year, I got caught on one and had a sprained ankle and slowed me down the last couple of game," Carolina Panthers defensive end Mike Rucker said. "What's the need for it? There are so many rules out there to protect players. What about us? One of our assets is our knees. This is a system that goes right after those. It's dangerous. It's one thing to slow a guy down, but to go at his knees and ankles. That's too much."
    And yes, it's legal, but that doesn't make it right:
    Houston Texans tackle Zach Wiegert, now playing in his first year in the system, has a different take on the defensive players who rip the cut-blocks.

    "They say it's filthy?" Wiegert said. "Come on. They're always going to say that. You know how defensive players are. It says in the rule book that you can cut, so we cut. Look at the film. Those defensive players are taking on guards and holding them to let the linebackers run free. If you cut them, they take their hands off. It's no dirtier than some of the things they do."

    As soon as Wiegert finishes, I ask him if the Texans cut their own players during practice.

    He laughs and points to the far side of the team's practice bubble.

    "No way," he said. "See those big black bags over there. We practice cutting on them. No way to hurt those."

    Hmm. I wonder why that is?

  • You can file this under: Just in case you weren't sure that Mike Holmgren's a big baby. Sports Illustrated's Michael Silver did an interview with the Big Lead and I found this paragraph particularly interesting (and very familiar seeming):
    "Mike Holmgren yells at his players if they do interviews with me and once made faces at me from behind while I was talking to Chad Brown at training camp. He's a very mature man."
    There's a lot of other great stuff here.
  • Redskins beat reporter Jason La Canfora has a big story planned for this Sunday and he offers some hints in his Washington Post blog:
    "Sean Taylor has taken steps backward this season. One GM thought he was having to think too much with Archuleta back there, and was not as much of a ball hawk in the passing game. Coverage was never his strong suit at Miami, one scout said, and he still takes poor angles to the ball. Losing Clark has had a dramatically detrimental impact on Sean, for reasons I will explain in the paper this weekend."
    You know, just in case there are any Steelers fans still not on the Ryan Clark bandwagon.
  • Yes, the Steelers are playing the Raiders on Sunday, and yes, they're 8.5 point favorites, but this team is 2-4 so anything's possible. Here's your weekly dose of good news in the face of an obviously not-so-good season (record-wise, anyway):
    "...Pittsburgh has faced one of the league's five hardest schedules so far, they've had poor luck recovering fumbles, opposing kickers are booming kickoffs against them, and opposing kickers were perfect on field goals against Pittsburgh until Morten Andersen missed that 52-yarder at the end of regulation. Atlanta's surprise onside kick, which was a huge play in Sunday's game, is also a one-time event, which tells us nothing about how intrinsically good the Steelers really are. Notice that they rank 10 places lower in the "unadjusted" column. The Steelers have an average remaining schedule and all those luck-related elements are likely to revert to average as well. Obviously a 2-4 record makes it very unlikely that the Steelers will make the playoffs in the ultra-competitive AFC. But if you want to know which teams will be the most competitive going forward, based on what we know from the seven weeks so far, Pittsburgh is very high on the list."
    Feel better?
  • With the team sitting at 2-4, things certainly could be better for Steelers fans. Given my background, maybe I shouldn't be complaining too loudly, though. You see, my high school football team was not only one of the worst outfits in the state of North Carolina, they were in the running for one of the nation's most embarrassing. In fact, things were so bad, a student wrote an article for Sports Illustrated on the team's ineptitude. When the coolest thing to happen to the high school football team was to have somebody -- a player, no less -- point out that the whole thing was basically a big joke, well, you should get some indication how bad things were.

    My point, though, is that things can turn around in the time it takes Ricardo Colclough to muff a punt. Check this out. That's right, 20-odd years after the SI article, my high school football team is 9-0. Nine and freakin' Oh. See, miracles do happen. Let's just hope the Steelers turn things around a wee bit quicker. Oakland seems like a great place to start.

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