Good teams have confidence. Even if a few things don’t go their way in a game, they don’t get flustered. They shrug it off and keep on chugging. Sadly, I don’t think this year’s Georgia Tech team has that much confidence – the Yellow Jackets fell to Virginia 28-23 on Saturday. Granted, two of Virginia’s touchdowns were the direct result of Tech errors – one inexplicable interception return for a touchdown and one muffed punt reception deep in GT’s own territory. But still, you can’t win games when you give the ball up twice deep in your own territory. I watched the entire game and just felt… “meh” by GT’s performance. This is Virginia, folks. They supposed to be one notch above UNC and Duke, for God’s sake. And they put GT on the ropes. My heart skips a beat when I think of what GT’s record would have been had they played real teams. It makes me glad that Tech left the SEC so many years ago. Next week: Clemson, a team that always seems to have GT’s number. I (sadly) predict another loss.
The Pittsburgh Steelers, on the other hand, seemed to be firing on all cylinders. The offense is still anemic in the first quarter, but thankfully Pittsburgh’s D is good enough to not make this an issue so far. In fact, I’m really liking the Steelers’ schedule so far this year. The first four games are against weak teams, and maybe this will give Big Ben a confidence boost. He’s actually looked pretty good so far this year: while he hasn’t been the huge playmaker he was in his first two seasons, he’s also not making stupid mistakes like he did last year. Something one of the game commentators said yesterday that I hadn’t thought about: Ben admitted recently that he spent almost all of his pre-season time last year getting into shape. He had almost no classroom time before the start of last season. Physical issues aside, this explains a lot about his performance last season, and the extra hours he’s spent studying this year seem to be bearing fruit. Also, it was good to see touchdowns from all Steeler teams yesterday. The 49ers enjoyed their 3-0 lead for about 14 seconds yesterday, as former Atlanta Falcon Allen Rossum returned SF’s ensuing kickoff 90+ yards for a touchdown. And late in the game Bryant McFadden picked off a SF pass and returned it for a TD that made the score 30-9. The Steelers almost kept their opponent in the single digits for the third game in a row… except for a SF TD with 2:22 left in the game, deep into “garbage time”. All in all, a *great* performance from the Steelers; I look forward to next week’s game against Arizona and their new head coach – former Steelers OC Ken Whisenhunt.
Carolina Panthers fans got something to cheer about yesterday after dismantling the Falcons 27-20. But, to be honest, the Panthers didn’t “beat” the Falcons as much as the Falcons imploded… which is hardly surprising, given Joey Harrington’s performance. To show you how bad it was, the Panthers got their decisive touchdown on a drive where the Falcons defense was penalized 67 yards on that single drive. The Falcons are a disgrace to football, and it actually makes Carolina look bad that they didn’t beat them more decisively. But before I move on to other games… a brief question about the “I-85 Rivalry”… namely, who decided that there even was a rivalry between the Falcons and Panthers? When I was a kid, I liked the Steelers and Falcons equally. And in those days, the Falcons’ one and only rival was the New Orleans Saints. To this day, I still can’t call them anything but the “Ain’ts”. And that’s the way I likes it.
Moving on… how about that Cowboys\Bears game? “Bad Rex” was definitely in the house, but you know what? I seem to recall at least three passes dropped by Chicago receivers that either would have been touchdowns or would have been close to touchdowns. We can’t hassle Rex for that – especially when they were good passes. And 70,000 Bears fans chanting “Griese! Griese! Griese!” certainly can’t help matters for poor ol’ Rex. Look, as a Steelers fan, I understand the whole “defense wins games” philosophy… but damn Chicago.. you’ve gotta do something about your QB situation… Rex is pathetic.
And speaking of “pathetic”… although Donovan McNabb’s stats looked incredible yesterday… the Eagles’ throwback uniforms made me throw up in my mouth a little.