Sunday, October 23, 2005

Bengals neutered

Welcome to Steelers Nation, ladies and gentlemen, where the order of the day is ritualistic stompings of teams whose heads have grown too large to fit into their striped helmets. It was a cold, rainy day in Cincinnati, perfect weather for the chain-smoking and binge drinking that must have assuredly followed Pittsburgh's 27-13 win over the much-hyped Bengals.

Now, posturing aside, I was sorry to see quarterback Ben Roethlisberger finally have his streak of no interceptions broken. I was a little taken aback by Hines Ward's posturing. He's known as the guy who's always smiling, and there were points in this afternoon's game -- after a rather ridiculous penalty call, for instance -- where he looked positively grouchy.

But who cares? Two Sundays ago, I was nearly at the point of myocardial infarction when Big Ben went down after a gruesome hit that looked like it had popped his ACL/MCL. Then last week, the team dusted off Tommy Maddox to fill in for Ben, which, as we all know, was disastrous. But Roethlisberger's back in the starting slot, and thank God... it just goes to show that a team that plays great fundamental, smash-mouth football does indeed need a competent quarterback, and Ben's the man for that role. I'm petitioning EA Games to have Tommy Maddox modeled in a wheelchair for next year's Madden NFL title.

I watched the game at the Applebee's off-post, and at several points during the game made a pretty sizeable fool out of myself. It's easy to forget that you're in a "family-oriented restaurant" when you're slightly hungover and watching a crucial division rivalry game over a couple Bloody Marys.

But it all worked out beautifully, and now I'm happily sipping merlot and looking through the AP photo wire from the game. The Bengals have been put back into their place, and Pittsburgh is set to take the division title. Life, as they say, is good.