When the heroine enters the house and the eerie music starts playing, I'll begin to rub my nose like I'm having some itching fit. If Freddy's right around the corner, my eyes have the mysterious urge to be rubbed. When anyone sees "dead people", I message my temples. Yes, I'm truly a Man's Man. (Insert Steel Apple Joke here).
Now, once in 9th grade, I watched "Arachnophobia" in my biology class. I forgot to mention that I'm arachnophobic (Insert another Steel Apple Joke here). There is a point at the beginning of the movie when a scientist is looking into a small glass container at a spider (yes the killer spider). As I watched, relaxed that nothing bad or scary could happen, the spider hurls itself at the scientist with a terrible spider-squeal that scared the living snot out of me. I jumped 5 feet in the air, prompting laughter from the class, especially the female constituent. I had been coaxed into a relaxing situation and then surprised with a heart-stopping moment.
What in the name of "Hellraiser" does this have to with Sunday's game? Here in Toledo, Ohio, I'm sitting with Jason "The Bronco Fan" at a Ralphie's watching the game, he with a beer and Buffalo Chicken Sandwich, me with a plain baked potato and ginger ale (I'm nursing a bad stomach illness). The game is well in hand when "Touchdown Tommy" Maddox fires a routine pass to the sideline, and then promptly falls to the ground. Just like watching Arachnophobia 12 years ago, I screamed like a banshee. Someone in the bar said, "Hey bro it's okay…they still got Stewart."
Well, in his defense (Stewart's, not the drunken Brown's fan), Kordell had the misfortune of a dropped pitch by one Chris Fuamatu-Ma'fala. In his other series he led the Steelers 9 yards on 3 plays and Todd Peterson kicked a field goal (anyone else tense when he's kicking) to make the lead 31 – 11.
Apple Six-Pack Review
- Philadelphia 17 NY Giants 3 – When both your running back and quarterback rush for over 100 yards, you're probably going to win the game. The Giant defense seemed to allow Donovan McNabb every lane he wanted even when Brandon Short acted as a spy. During the halftime report Jim Fassel stated that last year's sweep by Philly was hard to swallow. This one should choke the life out of him.
- Denver 24 New England 16 – The Patriots' problems were not solved this week as they allowed Clinton Portis to run for 111 yards on 26 attempts. The only reason this game was as close as the score indicated was the kicking of Jason Elam. He missed two field goals (48, 39) that should have helped ice this one earlier. The Broncos got a big day from Ed McCaffrey and look poised to overtake San Diego by the end of the season.
- San Francisco 38 Arizona 28 – You've got to give the Cardinals some credit. They refused to buckle after falling behind 31 – 7. Two costly interceptions by Jake Plummer inside the 30 ruined the comeback for the Cards. The Niners' Terrell Owens looked like he had a freeway to run through on his 61-yard touchdown catch and run. The Niners better be ready for the rematch in Tempe, because the Cardinals are going to stick around.
- Atlanta 37 New Orleans 35 – Okay, I'm really nervous about Michael Vick coming into Heinz Field. He's showing me every week that he belongs in the league and looks faster than any quarterback I've ever seen. And…he's yet to throw an interception. The Saints couldn't make the magical comeback again this week, but this is only a minor roadblock on their way to the playoffs.
- Kansas City 20 Oakland 10 – Who would have thought that the Chiefs of all teams would hold the Raiders No. 1 offense to 10 points, especially when Rich Gannon throws for over 300 yards? The Raiders committed only two turnovers and one missed field goal, and lost only 27 yards on penalties. So how did they amass over 400 yards of offense and only came away with 10 points? How? Oh the mysteries of life.
- Cleveland 24 NY Jets 21 – The law of averages says the Browns should be able to have the breaks on their side at least once. Coming back from an 18-point deficit, Tim Couch looked like Kelly Holcomb by throwing for 307 yards and 2 touchdowns, including a desperation 2-point conversion to Dennis Northcutt that will be in the highlight reels for years to come.
Power Core Rankings Week 9
- Denver – They have a bye this week so the Brian Griese watch is on.
- Green Bay – Bye week brings them the top spot for NFC teams.
- Philadelphia – Did anyone think they'd lose to NY? Come on.
- San Diego – Once again. Bye Week. They don't move.
- Tampa Bay – They need a deep-threat receiver…badly.
- New Orleans – I don't like how this team continues to dig holes for itself.
- Pittsburgh – Highest ranking since Week 1. Still the worst division in football.
- San Francisco – Swatted away pesky Cardinals. Now can sit back and wait for playoffs.
- Miami – The Dolphins try to regroup in, of all places, Lambeau Field.
- Buffalo – The team keeps winning. That's bad news for the Patriots.
- Atlanta – The win puts them above .500 for the first time all year.
- Oakland – The Raiders are in danger of falling off the radar.
Missed Prime Opportunity (MPO) Score
Pittsburgh 2 Baltimore 5
An MPO is when a team fails to score while in scoring range or doesn't take advantage of major swings in momentum (i.e. major penalties/turnovers/settling for field goals in successive series/inability to seal a game with first downs). These are killers because a team only gets so many opportunities.
An MPO Score is like golf: It's best to score low. When a team score's low, it usually wins the game. It's remarkable how accurate it can be.
Pittsburgh's 2002 - 03 Regular Season MPO record: 4 - 3
Week 9 Mini - Preview: Pittsburgh at Cleveland
Game of the Week. The Browns will have their last chance at winning the division when the Steelers come to town on Sunday. If the Steelers win, they would have both head-to-head wins and an overwhelming lead in division wins. The Steelers can in fact go 4 – 0 in the AFC North with a win. That's a very important number.
5 Keys to the Game
- Take the crowd out: The dawgs will be out in waves. Let's hope the Steelers brought their leashes.
- 150 yds: I don't care who's in the backfield, but if the Steelers as a unit can get 150 yards on the ground the game is won.
- Perfection: The Steelers must force Tim Couch to be perfect all game long.
- No Todd Peterson: The Browns have shown an ability to create havoc on last-second field goals.
- Quick Strike: The Steelers need to get up early on the Browns. They won't come back two weeks in a row.
Outlook: The Steelers win this one in dramatic fashion by 2.
Apple Six-Pack: Week 9
- San Francisco at Oakland: The Raiders can fall further with a loss. The bleeding must stop sometime, but the Niners are the wrong team. Besides, the Giants lost the World Series.
- Miami at Green Bay: This should be a fun game for Monday Night. Well…it would have been fun, but Ray Lucas is playing so it might not be so fun.
- New England at Buffalo: Easy synopsis. If the Patriots lose, a division title is hopeless. Bledsoe begins Redemption Quest 2002.
- St. Louis at Arizona: These are the games Arizona must win if they intend on being a "Big Boy." Do the Rams have magic left? I say NO, but what do I know?
- Tennessee at Indianapolis: The Titans barely survive against the Bengals and need a win this week to stay close to the Colts.
- Baltimore at Atlanta: If Ray Lewis plays, Michael Vick may meet his match. Baltimore must rebound from last week's reality check.
Thoughts Assisted by Yuengling
- Big congratulations to Emmitt Smith. Sure he's a Cowboy, but he wasn't Michael Irvin.
- Think division wins are important? Here are teams legitimately fighting for a playoff birth with losing or .500 division records: Oakland (0-2), Cleveland (1-2), Jacksonville (0-3), New England (1-1), Arizona (1-1), St. Louis (0-3), Kansas City (1- 2).
- The most disturbing thing about the New England Patriots' loss was Tom Brady's complete lack of downfield throwing ability. His receivers may not be open or able to get downfield, but I don't ever remember him going for more than 12 yards on a pass.
- Referring back to a few Pies ago, Chicago is officially the fluke team.
- Just in case you were wondering, that was former Steeler Kris Brown kicking the game winning 45-yard field goal for the Houston Texans. Dios Mio!