Thank you FDR. I bet you never thought you'd help provide the title to blog about the looming playoff game between the Jets and Steelers.
This Saturday, the Jets and Steelers will be kicking off the Playoff festivities for the weekend at 1:30 PT. And until then, I'm going to be in a constant state of terror. My brother called me earlier in the week and asked me to help talk him down a bit because he's really nervous. Normally, I have to provide reassurance that everything's going to be OK and the sky isn't falling and the Steelers will win. Me. A soothing influence on someone. But this week, I had to be honest: I'm totally freaked out about this game.
With football, it's all about the match-ups. Usually, each week, the Steelers will be facing a team that have some sort of advantage. In those cases, I can reassure my brother (and myself) by figuring out ways the Steelers can nuetralize these road blocks to vicotry. Liek when we went to the game in Dallas, the Steelers were down late in the 4th quarter and Dallas had the ball. My brother was totally pissed and was cursing like a sailor about how the Steelers suck and they blew this game. I just sat there totally relaxed and told him to chill out because Vinny Testaverde is the Dallas QB and the Steelers NEVER lose to Vinny. Ever. Sure enough about 1 minute after calming him down, Vinny fumbled and the Steelers were on their way to victory. We had a disadvantage, but Vinny was the perfect antidote.
The problem is that this week, I can't figure out anything about the Jets that I should be afraid of. There isn't a single fascet of the game where the Jets have a decided advantage. I can't look at this game and say, "If the Steelers don't stop Curtis Martin, they're going to lose this game," becasue the Steelers WILL stop him. It's not even a question. So when my brother called I had to be honest:I'm not afraid at all about this game which scares the absolute HELL out of me. I can't relax. I can't focus. All I can think about are the 1 Million and 1 ways the Steelers can kill themselves on Saturday. I think about that because that's the only thing that can happen that would cause them to lose. The only way the Steelers lose is if you take all of the mistaakes they've made through out the season (and they were 15-1,s o there weren't many of them) and throw them all into this one game.
Big Ben has an attrocious game (like he did against the Jets when they played in December)
The Bus is ineffective (like he was coming of the bench early in the season)
Duece is held in check (like he was in the first Baltimore game)
The Steelers Special Teams gives up a return for a TD (like they did against the Giants)
The Steelers D gives up a ton of dink and dunk passing yards (like they did in the second half against the Patriots or against Carson Palmer in the 2nd Bengals game)
Keep in mind that ALL of these things would have to happen in order for the Steelers to lose. ALL OF THEM. Not 3. Not 4. ALL of them. The Jets would have to shut down both backs, hope Big Ben becomes stupid for 60 minutes, the Special Teams forgets to tackle and the corners play too far off while the front 7 fails to apply sufficient pressure. If one running back has a good game, then the other is enough to counter balance Ben's problems. If the Special Teams is solid, the Jets will never be in good enough field postiion to fully abandon the run and start picking appart the secondary.
And so, the thing I'm afraid of is the convergance of my worst nightmares. And that makes me more afraid of this game than any other before or after. If we manage to keep it together and win on Saturday, I'll look at the Colts or Patriots and recognize their stregths and figure out how the Steelers will be able to counter them. But how can the Steelers counter themselves?
I don't actally think that they're going to play the worst game of the year this weekend. That's what it will take for them to lose. And knowing that's how they would have to play to fail and knowing that that's the last Steeler game I'd get to watch for the season, and knowing that such a putrid performance would stew in my gut for the whole off season, scares me. I am only afraid about being afraid.