AFC Championship game
Score: Pittsburgh 34, Denver 17
Another great game from the guys in black and gold! In some respects this game impressed me more than the effort against the Colts. Pittsburgh played a complete game on both sides of the ball against a very tough Denver team. I must confess that Denver had me worried, lol. They’ve been defensively tough all year long…knocking out the best offensive teams they’ve faced. But today was just Pittsburgh’s day. They played inspired ball, again.
And, I really don’t think enough good things can be said about Ken “the Whiz” Whisenhunt, offensive coordinator of the Steelers. Wow! What a game plan! He was two steps ahead of Shanahan and the Broncos…and that is no small task. Shanahan is no slouch in big game acumen [or offensive genius]. If this game doesn’t land Ken a gig as head coach, I don’t think anything will. I hope he stays with the Steelers, but if he does, they need to give him a pay raise!
Great game, though. And solid execution on both sides of the ball for Pittsburgh, especially offense – some excellent third down calls. And, some excellent plays for first downs and TDs. Ben performed really well today…and a lot of credit goes to the offensive line. Wow, did they ever pick up the blitz! Case in point: Third down throws against the blitz were around 75 percent conversion rate. Also note: On the TD run by Jerome Bettis, Alan Faneca blocked two Broncos, lol.
Denver linebacker Ian Gold paid Pittsburgh the ultimate compliment:
"We did not complete the mission and it's frustrating," linebacker Ian Gold said. "But anytime you make it to the AFC Championship Game and you lose, you hope to lose to a team like that."
Pittsburgh is playing monster ball, right now – unprecedented, really. They've beaten the 1, 2 and 3 seeds to advance – first time that's ever been done. And, it's the first time a 6 seed has ever advanced to the Super Bowl. Quite fitting that it's Super Bowl XL! Super Bowl Xtra-Large...for the way they're playing, lol.
And…western PA is going crazy with Steeler fever, lol.
Restaurants were sending people home because of no customers; TV stations were showing shots of the malls and stores, with streets looking like ghost towns, lol! Everyone was home watching the game, or with friends and fans at sports bars.
Non-residents of PA seem stunned at the loyalty of the fans. One writer said this, after the game:
And all those loyal Pittsburgh fans! An estimated 8,000 came to Denver and they stayed well after the game, waving their Terrible Towels in the corner of Denver's Invesco Field until security finally had to ask them to leave…
Is it any surprise that one guy in a sports bar had a heart attack last week when Bettis fumbled against Indy? Or that another guy last year asked to be laid out in a recliner with a brew in hand, “watching” Pittsburgh highlights? These people take it seriously!
Growing up in western PA, going to school, teachers actually gave extra credit points for students who wore black and gold during the playoffs. I kinda resented that, then. I thought grades should be earned. But looking back, I just laugh and shake my head.
I called my mother before the game and said,
“Mom, just checking in to see if you are gonna watch the game.” And she said, “Yes.”
Then she said, “Loy, you wouldn’t believe it, but I wore black and gold to church today!”
And I laughed. Then I acted shocked and said, “Mom! What’s this world coming to, whenever a fine, upstanding Christian lady like yourself wears professional football colors to the house of the Lord? Why, it’s almost idolatry!”
And she laughed again and said, “Oh, I blame this on my three sons for making me a football fan!” And I laughed, because there wasn’t much I could say to that.
The she said, ‘But if they play like they did last week, I might not make it through the game.” Then she put the pressure on me. She said, “If I didn’t make it and had to be laid out, would you boys come to my funeral or watch the game?”
And I said, “Oh, mom! I’m not gonna say I would ever choose a football game over you – I’ll be there…! But…don’t be surprised if somehow there's a large screen TV at the wake!”
And she laughed like a little girl, lol!
And she said, “Loy, you are so bad!” And I laughed, too.
Then she said, “I might just end up getting up out of the casket for that one.” And I said, “Yeah, you’d probably get up and walk on water, too, if they won!”
And she laughed and said, “Now you are being bad, so I have to go!”
So I let her go to watch the football game – but it just gives a flavor of the fever in Steeler country!
I’ve been driving around with a football in the passenger seat of my truck, lol. And, p.s. – It’s gonna stay there through the Super Bowl, too. But I’m not superstitious or anything, lol! I just like football!
All together now: “Pittsburgh’s goin’ to ‘da Super Bowl!”