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It's been an interesting day for Pennsylvania football, hasn't it?
The Steelers pounded division rival Cleveland 31-0, which normally would be greeted with cheers all along the Monongahela, Ohio and Allegheny Rivers - otherwise known as "the confluence" by Al "I talk (a lot), therefore I am...annoying" Michaels.
However, I, for one, was a bit upset seeing our star quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger, carted off the field on a stretcher. He suffered a concussion in the second quarter, but is expected to be okay for the Steelers playoff run. Pittsburgh had already clinched a playoff spot and their seeding was set, so it was, essentially, a meaningless game.
I will not question Mike Tomlin's decision to have Roethlisberger in there in the first place. All Tomlin has done in his first two seasons is ring up a 22-10 regular season record and two division titles. He's earned the right to do what he thinks is right in guiding my beloved football team. I will admit my first thought when hearing about Ben was "Why is he even in the game?" - but I'll let it go. And Mike, please keep up the good work!
The Steelers won, so all is well. Now, time to focus on the playoffs. Congrats, Black & Gold! And get well soon, Big Ben. We need ya!
And in a glorious and surprising fashion, the Eagles pasted the Cowboys 44-6, and, in the process, shined a dubious light on the team and, fairly or unfairly, Tony Romo. With near endless references to their December record, the 'Choker' label they were trying desperately to shake is back in Dallas along with the 10-gallon question of "What happened?"
Nobody asked me, but I'll tell you what I think happened. Jerry Jones, in a very New York Yankee style, lined up all the talented players he could find without bothering with the detail of whether or not they could properly function as a team.
Romo takes it on the chin again - and maybe it's true that he buckles under end-of-season pressure. But he's not the whole problem for that team. Terrell Owens drops passes. The offensive line surrendered near-constant pressure. And the defense and special teams couldn't get out of their own way.
Add it up, and you get a team rife with talent settling down for a long, cold winter. Questions about Wade Phillips and his future are resurrected, ignoring the fact that Jerry Jones is the one who deserves to be sacked. He assembled this bunch of misfits, and he's the king misfit.
I rarely feel sorry for Dallas fans, but in this case, I do. A little, anyway. I don't see any positive changes coming for that team. They can fire Phillips, but that won't solve the problems.
All of this downplays the excellent performance by the Eagles. The offense scored three touchdowns, and the defense answered with two of their own. The Eagles outscored the Cowboys 41-0 over the second and third quarter.
While I think that people went a bit over the top with talk of the NFC East being the most competitive/toughest division in the NFL, I think there is no question that the second best team in that division won today.
If that was Andy Reid and Donovan McNabb's last game in Eagles green, then they served their fans well. As with the Cowboys, the departure of the coach will not solve the problems that still exist in Philadelphia. And the Eagles without McNabb? Wow. Better prepare for some low-scoring games in Philly in 2009.
Thanks for that finale, Eagles. I am one of the many fans that love to see the Cowboys lose. Now everyone is 0-0. Let the fun begin!