Archive for January, 2006

But no time to do it. Work has been overwhelming of late, though that may be falling off in the near future — we just got word today that a large part of a closely-related section’s job has just officially been outsourced to India.

Ever since the Steelers’ dominating win over the Broncos, the NFL Network’s OnDemand service has released a free highlights package of every Steelers game this year. This has pretty much eaten up all 15 minutes of my TV time of late. I’ve drifted through the past week in a sort of Steelers-derived glow that my looming possible unemployment and a near-fatal car accident (no one was hurt, but my crappy 1996 Nissan Maxima may have bit the dust) cannot dent. I don’t what’ll happen if the Steelers actually win one for the thumb — I’ll probably be the happiest scumbag wannabe recruit down at PI come June.

My admitted halfass, biased analysis: the Steelers’ passing game takes it to the Seahawks DBs and rookie linebacking corps. Heath Miller has a big game, Ben wins MVP, and the Steelers take it 31-24 in a close one.

On a more serious note, even I wasn’t expecting Hamas to crush Fatah so thoroughly. This one was almost as big an upset as Steelers-Indy.

Let me revise what I said before. Fatah will see some infighting, but with words like this about the Palestinian security forces, I’d say the odds on a real Fatah/Hamas shooting war just went up to 1-4.

Hamas swept the election with a pledge to uproot corruption, and it has said that some of the worst abuses were in the security services.

“The leaders of these services became multimillionaires,” said Mahmoud Zahar, a senior Hamas leader. “We are going to reform these services. This is our mission.”

But Jibril Rajoub, a prominent Fatah leader and a security adviser to Abbas, sounded a very different tone.

“Hamas has no power to meddle with the security forces,” Rajoub said.


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A bit of background: I’ve been a huge Steelers fan ever since I was a kid in Allegheny County, PA back in the days when Miami Vice was a cheesy TV show and not a cheesy upcoming movie. Needless to say, it wasn’t the easiest time to be a Steelers fan. The Cowher era, comparatively, has been an occasionally-interrupted string of good seasons capped by a few brief, glorious stretches of greatness — greatness that usually vanished in yet another postseason failure.

Steelers fans, I think, have wondered to an extent just how good the current Steelers are. In 2003 the Steelers didn’t even make the playoffs at 6-10. Frankly things weren’t looking too great for 2004, when of course Ben Roethlisberger took over and led the glorious 15-1 campaign that would eventually crash and burn in New England. This year the Steelers got a bit lost in the AFC, with the press more caught up in the hype of Indy’s run to 13-0. With Big Ben out with injuries, the Steelers lost two in a row and were then shellacked by Indy on Monday night upon Ben’s return. At that point, most everyone pretty much wrote off the Steelers as not ready for prime time.

Well now I think that notion’s been put to bed. The Steelers belong with the NFL elite. So what’s the major difference between the ’04-’05 Steelers and the 6-10 mess in ’03? I think now the answer is obvious: Ben Roethlisberger.

I’m not a big QB worshiper. I think line play and defense is at least as important as what the QB does, especially in today’s NFL — the ’01 Ravens showed that you could even make a Super Bowl winner out of Trent Dilfer. But the QB position is still the difference-maker on the field. Great line play, great defense, and competent QB play can take you very far, while great line play and Tommy Maddox at QB take you to 6-10. But I think this game showed that good line play, great defense, and a very good QB can take a No. 6 seed to the AFC championship game for the first time in NFL history.

Big Ben was impressive throughout the game. He was under a heavy rush from the Indy line all day— Dwight Freeney rushing the passer is every bit as impressive as they made him out to be. The Pittsburgh running game never really got on track, with Colt defenders in the backfield on a regular basis. But Ben kept throwing darts. And can I say how impressed I was with Heath Miller? Where the heck did his plays go in the second half, especially with the Colts crowding the line to stop our 115th consecutive running play?

Rating mention along with Ben is the defense, which came up huge. Dick LeBeau brought the mustard and it obviously shook Peyton Manning, who got hit early and often. The game should have been over with Polamalu’s obvious interception that was overruled in the worst piece of NFL officiating since Phil Luckett couldn’t tell heads from tails in the coin toss of a Steelers/Lions game in 2001. Manning after the game spoke of “protection problems” — that’s as much frustration as you’ll ever get out of that guy in a press conference. LeBeau, Cowher, and the defense deserve a big standing O for that performance.

Now on to Denver, where the Steelers will have to deal with the Mile High air, the Broncos’ running game, and a lot of media hype about the only No. 6 seed to progress so far (and probably be favored) in the playoffs. This game and its associated weirdness will be chewed over long and hard over the next week, but the Steelers can hopefully keep focus now that their place in the NFL elite is assured.

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