Since Gretz is a season ticket holder he is going to tell you about all of the debauchery and insanity that takes place in the Heinz Field stands.
I don’t even know where to begin.
Three weeks ago the Pittsburgh Steelers were done. They were 5-8. They needed about 500 things to happen to make the playoffs, all of them seemingly unlikely, including the most basic part of the equation: The Steelers winning three games in a row to end the season.
And then it started happening. They crushed Cincinnati on Sunday night. A couple of teams lost. They won a wild game in Green Bay. More teams lost. As they were beating the Browns on Sunday, more things fell into place and the stars were starting to align as the Ravens were blown out against the Bengals and the Dolphins finished an incredible choke job down the stretch, losing back-to-back games to Buffalo and the Jets while scoring just seven points in the two games.
Suddenly, an improbable series of events came down to just one game: The Kansas City Chiefs backups winning on the road in San Diego. If there was one team capable of losing such a game, it’s the San Diego Chargers. And it appeared as if it was going to happen. Then Ryan Succop missed a 40-yard field goal (an attempt that apparently had the Chargers lined up in an illegal formation) and then a potential game-winning touchdown was, for whatever reason, not allowed to happen.
In hindsight, maybe we (the NFL fans) shouldn’t have given the real referees that standing ovation when they came back last year. They suck as bad as the replacements did. Maybe even worse. There is no excuse for some of the stuff that gets called and doesn’t get called in these games. Nobody knows the rules. Nobody knows what catch is, or what a fumble is, or what’s reviewable, or why it is or isn’t reviewable. It’s a garbage league run by total morons.
And, of course, we’ll keep coming back for more.
What a roller coaster of emotions. Total insanity. Total mayhem. Nothing makes sense anymore.
On one hand, the Steelers shouldn’t have even been in this spot. Your playoff hopes shouldn’t have to come down to Ryan Succop making a field goal or Chase Daniel and the rest of the Chiefs backups winning a game. If they beat just one of the crappy teams (Tennessee, Minnesota, Oakland, Miami) that they lost to, they’re comfortably in the playoffs. Don’t start 0-4 (and then 2-6) and you don’t have to worry about the other stuff. In most normal years an 8-8 season wouldn’t even get you close to a wild card spot. The very fact they were still in it, and managed to extend the playoff chase as long as possible, was nothing more than luck and circumstance. A bunch of crazy shit happened around the league that resulted in a bunch of mediocre teams fighting for a playoff spot in a crazy year.
But it happened! And they still had a chance! And then … well. You know.
I never expected everything to work out for the Steelers, and truthfully, the thought of Kansas City winning that game today was more wishful thinking than anything else. But hell, why couldn’t they have just been blown out? Not like that, man. Not like that.
But enough of that. There was a game in Pittsburgh on Sunday, and it was very wet.
– Here’s a pro tip for you: Plastic sandwich bags on your feet. They keep your feet warm and dry, and the worst part about these cold, wet games is when your feet turn into concrete blocks by the end of the first half. The bags help.
– If nothing else, I’m a lot more optimistic about the 2014 Steelers than I was three months ago. There is some work that needs to be done, particularly on the defense, but maybe, just maybe, this offense doesn’t stink. Maybe there’s something here. Maybe I was wrong about Todd Haley. They certainly improved in the second half and if the no-huddle can remain a focal point, things could get interesting. Even the makeshift offensive line held up well down the stretch. I’m assuming Emmanuel Sanders and Jerricho Cotchery probably won’t be back next season so along with plugging some holes on defense wide receiver is probably going to be a pretty big area of need in the offseason, but with Ben Roethlisberger still in place, Le’Veon Bell looking like a player, and Antonio Brown having a huge year, there’s a nice foundation there.
– But to add to the what-ifs and frustration: Where the hell was the no-huddle in Weeks 1-6?
– On defense Cam Heyward is becoming the cornerstone guy of that group, and they still need to come up with a way to keep Jason Worilds (never thought I’d be saying that) because you just can’t rely on LaMarr Woodley anymore.
– There was a Browns fan in a Colt McCoy jersey in front of us talking trash all day (well, that is until he left at half time), and that was difficult to take seriously. Also weird were the two people next to us that showed up for about 10 plays in the second quarter, and then left.
– A guy in a Houston Oilers hat was mumbling something to us in the Great Hall and we still have no idea what he was talking about.
– Our usual pre-game Pizza stop, Giovanni’s on 6th street, was pretty full so we went across the street and grabbed a slice at Cafe Milano. I give it high marks. A quality pie, a lot of seating, really good price, and a nice setting. I recommend it. Either place is good for a pre-game (Steelers, Pirates, or Pitt football) meal.
– The real pisser is I am convinced the Steelers would have won in Cincinnati next Sunday.
– Look on the bright side. At least we’re not Cleveland Browns fans. Not only did they wrap up another 10-loss season, they also fire another head coach on Sunday night (this time after just one season). They will now be on their fifth head coach in seven seasons. What a mess of a franchise. The worst organization in pro sports.