And like a broken record, against Cleveland, the Steelers are driving to at least attempt a short field goal with :31 seconds left. Then from the 10, Tommy throws an interception and allows the Browns some momentum entering the half.
What is going on? This makes as much sense as M-O-O-N that spells Moon, especially since Maddox is supposed to be adept at running the 2-minute drill. But, it makes me nervous when we all know that the Steelers will be driving for the game-winning touchdown late in the 4th quarter and Maddox will be forced to utilize the 2-minute offense.
Yes, the Steelers won and I'm very happy, but the repeated interceptions at the end of first halves are a growing trend that needs to be nipped in the bud should the Steelers hope to win a playoff game.
Apple Six-Pack Review
- San Francisco 23 Oakland 20 (OT) - In what ESPN termed the "Jerry" Bowl, the Niners pounded Oakland into submission by running 30 straight plays and holding the ball for the final 15 minutes of play including the overtime period. Jose Cortez could have and should have won this one at the end of regulation, but he pulled a "Kris Brown" and missed a 29-yard chip shot. But, he redeemed his awful miss, by hitting a 24-yarder to knock off the reeling Raiders.
- Green Bay 24 Miami 10 - The Pack rode 143 yards of total offense by Ahman Green to send the Fiedler-less Dolphins back to South Florida with a loss. The Dolphins are reeling right now. They don't have leadership on the offensive side of the ball, and it's only a matter of time until that smaller, quicker defense wears down. If the Dolphins can't cut down on the mistakes (9 turnovers in the past 2 games), they might be sitting at home in January.
- New England 38 Buffalo 7 - Yes, I was one of the masses that thought Drew Bledsoe would annihilate the Brady Bunch, but WOW. Tom Brady must have got some fun lovin' from Tara Reid because he showed better accuracy, better pop in his throws, and better decision-making than he had in the last 5 weeks. The defense suddenly looked formidable against the run and Antowain Smith dusted off the mothballs.
- St 27 Arizona 14 - Okay so I was a dumb, dumb guy last week when I announced that the Cardinals would stick around long enough for a big rematch against the Niners in Tempe. I should have followed my own rules and just kept this Arizona team near the bottom of the barrel. In other news, Mike Martz announced that Kurt Warner could return as early as Nov. 18 and would regain his starting job. So we can all stop entertaining thoughts of Marc Bulger being anything more than second-string in St. Louis.
- Tennessee 23 Indianapolis 15 - What an awful morning for Colts fans on Sunday. First, they find out that Edgerrin James will definitely not play and then his back-up Ricky Williams announces that he can't go. You know as the weeks go by two things are becoming clear. The problems in Indy weren't all on the defense and Peyton Manning isn't as good as everyone thinks.
- Atlanta 20 Baltimore 17 - Word out of Baltimore is that Ray Lewis may be gone for the season. It didn't matter last week because the Raven's figured out how to stop Michael Vick. If they could only score points, they would have won the game. Vick threw his first interception of the season last week. He may throw a few more this Sunday.
Power Core Rankings Week 10
- Denver - Can end Oakland's season on Monday night.
- Green Bay - Favre injured? Just give it to Batman.
- Philadelphia - Even when McNabb's rusty, that defense can carry the team.
- Tampa Bay - Looks like the proverbial lightbulb went on for Brad Johnson.
- New Orleans - I'm not sold on this team just yet. They must beat Tampa again.
- Pittsburgh - Yes, Tommy Maddox can lead a team back from an early deficit.
- San Francisco - Swatted away pesky Cardinals. Now can sit back and wait for playoffs.
- Atlanta - Big match this week against the Steelers to keep pace in the NFC South.
- Miami - If they continue to play this bad WITH Fiedler then I'll lose faith.
- San Diego - Big-Time loss. Good teams don't lose to the Jets.
- Tennessee - Big jump for the Titans. They may win the AFC South by default.
- Kansas City - Why so high? Well, just a hunch, but they may get the last wild-card spot.
Missed Prime Opportunity (MPO) Score
Pittsburgh 5 Cleveland 7
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: 5 - 3
Week 10 Mini - Preview: Pittsburgh vs. Atlanta
If you would have told me before the season that this game would be one of the most important of Week 10, I would have laughed in your face. But, such is the NFL. Both teams enter the game at 5 - 3, but the similarities end there. The Steelers are well in control of the AFC North while the Falcons need help in the last 8 games to overtake both the Saints and Bucs.
I, as much as the next guy, have been taken in by the spectacle that is Michael Vick. I hope though, this week he plays one of his most boring games of the year. He can't win games single-handedly…yet. But, I'm not willing to believe the Steelers will test that theory.
Besides who doesn't want to see Tommy Maddox face his former coach?
5 Keys to the Game
- Control Vick: This may seem like a no-brainer, but it's the difference between a win and a loss.
- 150 yards: Once again I'm going with the 150 yards by the running attack. It worked last game.
- Ease Bettis in: Ease the Bus back in. There is no need to overuse him or misuse him. Ease him in and let him play clean up.
- Heinz Field: The Steelers need to use the advantage of playing grass. The Falcons won't be as fast on offense.
- Scat Back Attack: Warrick Dunn likes to cut back against the grain. The Steelers must force him to become a power back to effectively take him out of the offense.
Outlook: I think Vick will cause problems in the first half, but some defensive adjustments will enable the Steelers to win it in the second half by a touchdown.
Apple Six-Pack: Week 10
- Miami at NY Jets: Game of the Week. The Jets with a win get back in the AFC East hunt. The Dolphins could flounder if they lose this week because the Patriots and Bills are still breathing down their necks.
- Oakland at Denver: The Raiders won't go down without a fight. But, they'll still go down this week in Denver if the stars continue to whine about getting the ball.
- Kansas City at San Francisco: Big test for the Niners. The Chiefs have given every team they've played this year a run for their money.
- San Diego at St. Louis: This may be a watershed game for both teams this season. The Chargers with a win will stop the Rams' attempt to right the ship. The Rams with a win would throw a ton of doubt on the minds of the Charger faithful.
- Indianapolis at Philadelphia: The Colts need this one bad, but the Eagle defense will be too much for Peyton Manning, especially if the running game for the Colts doesn't heal soon.
- New Orleans at Carolina: Remember that 3 - 0 start for Carolina? Neither do I, but they can remind the rest of the NFL with a win against the Saints. This is the season for the Panthers.
Thoughts Assisted by Yuengling
- Brentson Buckner was suspended for 4 games for violating the substance abuse policy. It seems he was taking diet pills before training camp. No comment.
- A lot of this grumbling by players and former players alike that the league is being unfair with the fines and suspensions regarding helmet-to-helmet hits is pure bull. I admit the Darren Woodsen hit should not have been penalized or fined, but let's keep it simple. If a player lowers his head and leaves his feet like a missile to hit a defenseless player, he should be penalized.
- Is it just me or does anyone else get nervous over any field goal attempt by Todd Peterson?
- If the playoffs started today, Pittsburgh would be the No. 2 seed and the Patriots and Raiders wouldn't even be playing. So much for the 0-2 start.
- Starting next week there will be a new section of Apple Pie that focuses on the playoff races.
--The Steel Apple