Craig Wolfley's Notes from Mudville

The 75th anniversary season rolls on. To represent the new millennia Steelers, Jason Gildon, Mike Logan, and Jeff Hartings were selected as honorary co-captains. It was nice to visit with them on the sidelines before the game. Then, unfortunately, the game began.

Okay, in a nutshell, here's my rant. How in the name of Steelers Nation does a cocoa-buttered-up-SPF-factor-15-Florida-sunshine-boys come into a gnarly Heinz Field and kick the keester of them Still'as?

It wasn't until the fourth Jacksonville rushing attempt in their first series from scrimmage that the Steelers held any Jacksonville runner under a win. A win is four yards and over. The other runs hit for 5, 10, and 4 yards. I had a sneaking suspicion that the Turk up in the booth was going to be right on with his thoughts about the Jags running game. Good as advertised.

Fred Taylor is uncanny with his ability to read the cutback. I really believed with less than ideal field conditions, his famous jump cuts would look more like switchbacks. That he would have to round them out a bit. Wrong-o! On a couple runs he looked like France's gold medal slalom skier, Jean-Claude Killy.

A lot of credit has to go to the Jaguars offensive line. Those guys played nasty. And they kept coming all game long.

Furthermore, watching their blocking schemes up close, I have to take my hat off to them for blocking to the whistle. They didn't stand around; they kept pushing the pile all game long. While doing a nice job of keeping their feet underneath them, they didn't raise their pad levels to accommodate the footing. Normally the worse the turf, the harder it is to flat back and roll the hips. But they managed to find the middle ground.

On a Willie Parker run to the right in the first half, Kendall Simmons has a great get-off on Jaguars defensive tackle John Henderson. Simmons has a great flat back, smacks Henderson in the schnozzola, starts tractoring the man who looks like a Yeti out of there. And then falls flat on his face. The Abominable Mud-man makes a stop from his knees for a 2-yard gain. That one had big written all over it.

The counter-power running play that killed the Steelers all day long was only stopped once, that I can recall. Big Snack, Casey Hampton got a great push on the snap. He drove Jag center Brad Meester so far back that pulling guard Vince Manuwai actually trapped "Meester in the keester." Both wooly mammoths hit the canvas. Casey came in and dropped Taylor for a 1-yard gain.

Alan Rossum is tougher than a two-dollar steak. That lick he took while returning a punt (complete with a minor concussion) was a 9 on the Wolfley "smackulator" scale. The funny part was watching Rossum talking with a Steelers trainer after the hit. Alan was administering the concussion test to himself, holding up fingers while counting, trying to prove that he was back from lala land.

Jacksonville right tackle Tony Pashos must be a grappling fan. And so must the line judge, who was looking right at both of them. Clark Haggans went up field on a rush, and then spun back inside. Pashos literally had what the old time wrestlers used to call a "sleeper" hold on Clark. With his arm wrapped tightly around Clark's neck, Pashos applied what looked to be a rear choke, known in grappling circles to put opponents to sleep. All that was left to do was walk over and count Clark out.

I know, I know. Yes it was Anthony Smith along with Ike Taylor getting zapped on that 55-yard strike to Northcutt in the third quarter. I cringed as I watched Smith take a bad angle, pull a 360, and watch Northcutt make a south-cut into the south end zone.

As of this moment I don't know if it was a cover three, which puts the onus on Ike, or cover two, which is Anthony. Either way, I'm sticking by my prediction that Anthony Smith will be a high caliber safety someday. And no, it's not a Syracuse thing.

Ben Roethlisberger "cowboyed-up" again. As I watched him on the sidelines, he never showed any ill effects of the shoulder problems he's having.

That dump-off to Willie Parker, which netted 28 yards, was vintage Ben. While getting pulled down for what would have been the 6th sack of the game for Jacksonville, he spies Willie. I've said it before, and I'll say it again. He makes chicken salad out of chicken doo-doo better than anybody else.

Even with a bum shoulder, that was Ben laying out for a block on Cedric Wilson's two-point conversion throw to Santonio Holmes.

Heath Miller went for it. That's all I can say. Throwing a check down on a fourth and seven is a tall order for anybody to fill, but Miller almost got it.


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