Bengals 23, Steelers 20: I Need A Vacation

There’s nothing quite so uniquely demoralizing as going to a bar with friends to watch a game, eating a bunch of food, drinking beers, and then losing that game to a mediocre team in the final seconds despite a dominant first half and an eleven-point lead in the fourth quarter (and roughly 57,829 missed chances). It’s like going to a three-hour movie and only realizing in the last fifteen seconds that the movie is terrible and you’ve wasted your afternoon.

You also begin to regret the beers and the fish n’ chips platter and the fried pickles, as they’ve retroactively transformed from celebratory group-engorging to just a bunch of fatty, heavy crap you piled into your stomach while your team lost stupidly. Then you get home, it’s 7:30, and you realize you’ve spent your Sunday devoted to something that merely pissed you off.

Why is this acceptable in sports and in no other walks of life? I’d never devote three hours to watching a CSI: Miami DVD then walk away going “Dammit, why did that have to happen? There goes my whole day. I’m gonna be angry through to Wednesday now.”

Fortunately, this Thursday, I’m going to Europe for two weeks. Not because of this game. Well, partly because of this game. But only like 30% because of this game. Needless to say, my initial reservation about the timing of my trip — “Damn, I’m gonna miss two Steeler games, two Penn State games, some MLB playoffs and the start of hockey season” — has transformed into “Yay, I don’t have to watch this crap for two weeks!”

I’m not sure the game requires much analysis, so here are some whiny complaints:

— I know Polamalu’s out, but the defense…WTF, man? W. T. F. And no, that doesn’t stand for “What The Fuck,” it stands for “Where’s The Fuckingpressure, for fuck’s sake?” The last part is in parenthesis, technically, so it’s not in the abbreviation. It’s like the song “Don’t You (Forget About Me)”, only that song got to the opposing quarterback quicker.

— The Steelers had another terrific first half, a season after winning the Super Bowl when they didn’t even take the field until 10 minutes into third quarter, and still lost? How is that possible?

— The Steelers rushed for 102 yards and still lost? How is that possible?

— No Rashard Mendenhall at all this week, after his impressive cutback run and 30 yard gain last week when they had no running game going? Parker was playing well, but still, every team in the damn NFL rotates in multiple running backs. The only explanation for Mendenhall’s non-usage I could think of was that after Sweed’s inexcusable dropped touchdown, Tomlin was just like, “That was so pathetic, I’m benching your entire draft class.”

Santonio Holmes and Heath Miller were both unimpressive. Holmes was great in the Super Bowl, but I’m just not sure he can handle the pressure of the regular season.

— I switched from my usual POLAMALU jersey to a ROETHLISBERGER jersey that my uncle gave me over the summer, in the hopes that it’d reverse the karma from last week when I wore the jersey despite Polamalu’s injury. It turns out, the Steelers are not good.

— I know it’s early, but what chance do the Steelers actually have of catching the Ravens? Baltimore’s already playing well, and they’re Baltimore, so they’re never going to lose ever. At least some other dude instead of Matt Stover will be kicking game-winning 57-yard field goals every time CBS cuts to the end of Ravens games you thought they might have a shot at losing.

Jeff Reed’s missed field goal was a 52-yarder, but either way, he’s not exactly helping his contract-negotiating cause these days. If he has another Bears performance, he’s gonna have to hope the Steelers front office really values his whimsical tv headshots.

— The Steelers really have a problem covering tight ends, underneath receivers and fullbacky/3rd-down-back types, and they play Antonio Gates and Darren Sproles and the 7-yard-passiest offense that ever 7-yard-passed. This doesn’t bode well.

— The Steelers have the same record as the Detroit Lions.

— After that previous sentence, I am now weighing the pros and cons of just staying in Europe for the rest of my life. Also, suicide.

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