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Old 12-08-2009, 05:58 AM   #1
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Default Cook: Pitt, Steelers losses tough to handle

Cook: Pitt, Steelers losses tough to handle
Tuesday, December 08, 2009
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

In the past 18 months, the Penguins made it to the Stanley Cup final before losing, the Pitt football team won nine games in the regular season for the first time since 1982, the Steelers were champions of Super Bowl XLIII, the Pitt men's basketball team came within three points of going to the Final Four and the Penguins won the Cup by winning Game 7 of the final in Detroit.

Really, we have no right to complain about the worst weekend in Heinz Field history.

No right at all.

Of course, that won't stop us.

I thought it was just about impossible for any loss to be worse than Pitt's 45-44 loss Saturday to Cincinnati. Somehow, almost unbelievably, the Panthers found a way to lose at home despite leading 31-10 in the second quarter and 38-24 in the fourth quarter. It was one of the most hurtful defeats in school history and, along with the 19-16 loss at West Virginia eight days earlier, assured that a second consecutive nine-win regular season will be remembered as nothing more than a monumental disappointment. The defeat didn't just cost Pitt a share of the Big East Conference title. It means the Panthers will play a nothing opponent in a nothing bowl instead of playing Florida in the Sugar Bowl. On the day after Christmas, no less!

That's as bad as it gets.

Or maybe not.

The Steelers' brutal 27-24 loss Sunday to the Oakland Raiders was worse. Much worse, actually. At least Pitt lost to an undefeated Cincinnati team that would be playing Alabama for the national championship if the Texas-Nebraska game Saturday night had been one second shorter. The Steelers, who virtually were fighting for their playoff lives after three consecutive defeats, lost at home to the inept Raiders, 14-point underdogs who came in with a 3-8 record and were begging to be put out of their misery. They were so shocked by their win that at least one player mentioned it in the same sentence with The Miracle On Ice and Buster Douglas' knockout of Mike Tyson.

Oh, brother.

I knew it was bad watching the Steelers blow three fourth-quarter leads to a Raiders offense led by journeyman quarterback Bruce Gradkowski, who, during his previous visit to Heinz Field, had a 1.0 passer rating. But I had no idea just how bad it was until I watched Mike Tomlin's Day After Disaster news conference. The coach talked in an appropriately somber tone about his potentially "shaken group" of players. He described them as "a very average football team as we sit here today," and admitted that assessment might be kind. He all but promised major changes -- especially in the team's lame secondary -- and indicated he will look at rookie cornerbacks Joe Burnett and Keenan Lewis in place of injured William Gay (concussion) and Ike Taylor (burned almost beyond recognition).

It's hard to believe these Steelers won the Super Bowl last season. It's even harder to believe they went into Denver for a Monday night game Nov. 9 and left with a 28-10 win and a 6-2 record and appeared to be an absolute lock to win the AFC North Division. Now, it looks as if they won't make the playoffs. The way they're playing -- with losses to the Raiders and the miserable Kansas City Chiefs during that four-game collapse -- it's fair to think they'll struggle to beat the 1-11 Browns Thursday night in Cleveland.

I repeat:

Oh, brother.

Tomlin said something else interesting yesterday. He said he will take an even greater role in the game-planning this week and the strategic decision-making Thursday night. His background is on the defensive side of the ball. It's enough to make you think he will take some of the clout from revered defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau. The defense couldn't possibly be any worse than it has been in the fourth quarter all season, could it?

That isn't to say I'm blaming LeBeau for the Steelers' mess. It's pretty hard for me to finger him for Burnett dropping that last-minute interception Sunday or Taylor having one of the worse days of his career. What's amusing is no one else seems to be blaming LeBeau, either. The same people who are quick to rip offensive coordinator Bruce Arians when the Steelers lose don't say a word about LeBeau when his defense plays like a sieve. That just goes to show how much more they think they know about calling offensive plays when, in reality, most know very little. It also shows how selective and irrational some people can be with their criticism.

Not to be cynical.

But, hey, this week has to be better, right?

Somehow, it seems appropriate the Steelers are playing the Browns. Cleveland is the perfect reminder that things always can be worse. It's not so much that the Browns have that horrendous record and are the laughingstocks of the NFL. It's that Cleveland hasn't celebrated a major sports championship since 1964.

We really have no right to complain.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/09342...#ixzz0Z67S18G4
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Old 12-08-2009, 07:44 AM   #2
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Default Re: Cook: Pitt, Steelers losses tough to handle

It's all a train wreck. You don't want to watch but you can't help it.

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Old 12-08-2009, 10:42 AM   #3
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Default Re: Cook: Pitt, Steelers losses tough to handle

Even though we don't have much to complain about in the big scheme. This weekend at Heinz was pretty miserable.
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Old 12-08-2009, 11:43 AM   #4
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Default Re: Cook: Pitt, Steelers losses tough to handle

so going into this game, our #1 Receiver is out, our #1 DL is out for the season, our #1 Safety is Out for the game, our #1 and #2 Corners at the begining of the season will both not be playing, or at least, #1 won't be starting, our D Coordinator is taking heat, our O-Coordinator is taking heat, our Special Teams is nothing to be proud of, we lose almost all the close games this year on the last play of the game and we are going up against a 1 win team that Basically has Nothing to Lose and would nothing more than to actually get their 2nd win this season against their Bitter Rivals...

Anyone else freaking worried?
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Old 12-08-2009, 08:06 PM   #5
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Default Re: Cook: Pitt, Steelers losses tough to handle

It was a very brutal weekend at Heinz Field. Thank goodness we can somewhat right the ship on Thursday night playing the Stains
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