The Pittsburgh Steelers are hosting the Washington Redskins this weekend. It is the game of the millennium of the week.
Dink and Dunk
The Steelers are having a little bit of an identity crisis. Sometime last year a loud groan emerged from the owner's suite. Ben Roethlisberger had taken one hit too many. Pittsburgh hobbled into the playoffs where they were dispatched immediately by the Broncos. We should all hate the Steelers helping turn it into a phenomenon.
After that, the team hired Todd Haley. The brass hit the media circuit talking about a kinder, gentler approach for Roethlisberger. Life in the pocket making a comfortable living off 5-yard slants would be just fine, they said. Injuries landed on everyone else on the team with any name recognition. It was harsh crush of mortality with Tim Tebow administering last rites.
If it seems like the Steelers' other recognizable players are always injured, it's because they are. Injury reports out of Pittsburgh read like a Pro Bowl roster. Somehow, the team always seems to find a way, making four trips to the playoffs since 2007 and winning one Super Bowl.
Writers tsk'd tsk'd the Redskins when Sean Weatherspoon's thigh met RG3's head. Here was this reckless, orange man risking a quarterback's life and limb to win football games. How dare he! And of course, the next week, against the Vikings, RG3 ran for 138 yards and two touchdowns.
Football Jesus, aka RG3, is limited by a weak supporting cast. For once, Dan Snyder made a smart free agent move, signing Pierre Garcon to a hefty deal in the opening hours of free agency (because Dan Synder holds the league's tampering rules in the same regard as free speech). Garcon is out again this week.
The picture isn't much rosier on the offensive line. Poor protection and an injured top receiver forces Football Jesus to give of his body much more literally and more often than he should.
Meanwhile, defensive coordinator Jim Haslett spends most of his time politicking not to get fired, a legacy from his days in New Orleans. How else do you explain his decision to use the same shitty two-minute drill at the end of last week's game when Eli Manning beat them with a 77-yard touchdown pass?
These are just minor issues to the Redskins and their long-suffering fans who finally have a savior to hang their hopes on, to do something that even the second coming of Joe Gibbs could not. There is no containment, no dink and dunk in Washington, no identity crisis being played out in the media either.
Cast of Characters
RG3, Black Jesus
OMGSOPERFECT! That's the only appropriate reaction to Robert Griffin III after the first seven weeks of the season. He has turned us all into screeching seventh grade girls, and there's no point in fighting it anymore.
Dan Snyder, Black Plague
Nothing good will ever come to the Redskins as long as Dan Snyder owns the team. There are a lot of jokes in this article but this is 100% serious.
Chris Cooley, Icon
Expert practical joke architect, creator of viral videos, poster of blogs, drinker of beer, smoker of cigarettes, lifelong Mottram nemesis, and the closest thing Northern Virgina white people have to Marion Barry. Also a (maybe?) decent tight end who's returned to reclaim some glory for the next 10 weeks. LET'S DO IT.
Ben Roethlisberger, Future Senator
Big, famous, dumb, and not technically guilty! Born winner. Born LEADER.
Todd Haley, Rageful Vagrant
Remember when he stopped shaving during the Chiefs winning streak and it looked like he'd been sleeping under a bridge for an entire month? That's the Todd Haley we should all remember forever.
Mike Wallace, Imaginary Superstar
Does anyone know anything about Mike Wallace besides his ridiculous stats? Could you pick him out of a lineup? Does Mike Wallace even really exist? Mike Wallace needs to fire his agent.
Pittsburgh remains one of America's most deeply underrated cities, and is perhaps best explored through the surprisingly rich array of films set in the City of Bridges.
The Dark Knight Rises: Due to its beautiful architecture and scenic array of bridges, Pittsburgh is pleasing to the eye despite its industrial past. As TDKR also shows, it is the place in America most likely to suffer an improbably terrorist attack that only Hines Ward survives.
Wonder Boys: With its rich arts scene, Pittsburgh is America's greatest city to be a struggling, marijuana-addled creative writing professor. Also, Tobey Maguire is wandering around at all times mumbling colorful lies about his past.
Striking Distance: Pittsburgh has one corrupt cop, but he can be shot, drowned, shocked, shot again, strangled, and thrown from a bridge without harm. The actual tagline for this film: "They shouldn't have put him in the water if they didn't want him to make waves."
Flashdance: At any point, Pittsburgh's blue-collar workers can rip off their grubby speed suits and reveal ripped torsos and well-choreographed dance moves. They may also enjoy being splashed with water if appropriately backlit.
In summary: Pittsburgh is pretty great, especially if you like bridges and quality meat products.
Ask the Locals: Skins
The Redskins finally have a good thing going. How is Dan Snyder going to screw this up?
The only way Snyder can screw this up is by firing Mike Shanahan, which he won't do. For once, Dan Snyder has handed over the reins completely to Shanahan. Losing is tough, but with Bruce Allen and Mike Shanahan, Snyder has seen firsthand how a football team is properly managed. He thought he could do it himself after learning from Gibbs, but he was wrong. The Redskins biggest problem has been continuity. Spurrier built a roster for Fun n' Gun ... and then Gibbs had to overhaul it for his Power Run. Gibbs retires, with a solid roster, but they hire Zorn who rebuilds the roster for West Coast Offense. That was a disaster, and then Mike Shanahan had to clean house. Now that the Redskins have continuity and decent players, the only way this gets screwed up is if Mike Shanahan leaves after this year.
Why is Washington so excited to have Chris Cooley back? Is Gronk just stealing his mojo and adding porn stars and Monster energy drinks to it?
You're really asking this? The only positive of being historically bad the last 5 years is having players that don't BS the fans. Cooley is always on the radio and his blog making humor of situations and telling it like it is. You can tell he genuinely hates losing and hes's one of the rare NFL players that can speak truthfully and it doesn't turn into a Mike Florio post. If the Redskins ship is going to hit the iceberg like it does every year, we want Cooley holding our hands. Cooley is one of the very few ties left to the last Redskins playoff teams ... for some reason, it just matters seeing him out there.
Ask the Locals: Steelers
Which aging, injured player's absence will impact the Steelers the least? Why?
He's not all that aged, but the Steelers will miss right tackle Marcus Gilbert the least because he leads the league in teammates injured. He's fallen on the legs of multiple offensive linemen this season, including rookie David DeCastro and center Maurkice Pouncey. It wasn't a coincidence when Gilbert missed Week 7's win over the Bengals and all five of the Steelers offensive linemen managed to survive the entire game. We swear he's a more internally vindictive (and much taller) version of James Harrison.
Why do people love RG3, but hate Ben Roethlisberger?
Well, let's see ... Nickname? RG3 > Big Ben. Extra work media have to put in typing their names? RG3 > Roethlisberger. Your daughter told you she's going to marry an NFL quarterback some day? RG3 > Roethlisberger. You see, when you break it down scientifically, it makes much more sense.
What can RG3 learn from Big Ben?
Don't wear fedoras to press conferences, or anywhere where people may take pictures.
Assessing the Bodily Injuries
1. London Fletcher LB Redskins (hamstring, spine, iffy)
231 consecutive games is an awful lot of football to play. That has to take a toll on a person's body.
2. Troy Polamalu S Steelers (calf, out)
One of the good guys, or at least another marketable presence after that whole sordid business with Big Ben, has played exactly two games this season.
3. Rashard Mendenall RB Steelers (Achilles, definitely maybe)
The league's most easily replaced running back may be ready to come back, again, this week.
4. Pierre Garcon, WR, Redskins (foot, out)
RG3 probably wouldn't have to run so much with the team's best receiver on the field. He's torn something in his foot.
Gentlemen, Place Your Bets
Statgasm: Get Off the Fridge
In 140-character Conclusion...
Ben Roethlisberger with a nice punt. His leg is strong from kicking in all those bathroom stall doors.
Ben Roethlisberger has thrown a TD pass against every NFL team... except the Redskins. He plays them Sunday.
Still not convinced the NFL Redzone #quadbox exists. I refuse to believe there's another level beyond #tribox.
The @Redskins on pace to surrender 457 pts, most in team history, and 5447 pass yards, easily most ever. Wasting @RGIII talent.
Vince Young to work out for Cardinals. Young said he's "real excited about possibly winning a World Series"
Multiple Bills receivers have gone Gangnam Style after scoring. I guess it takes memes two months to get to Buffalo.