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Week 3 Post-Game Show
Send your postgame critiques, analysis, ranting and raving about the last game as well as your predictions, smak, & insults about our upcoming opponent. Whether your message is a simple, "These guys SUCK," or a detailed, in-depth analysis, tell us what you think.
CLICK HERE for Pre-Game Analysis.

Q: What are Cleveland fans everywhere chanting?
A: "Wham, Bam, Thank You, Graham"

Steelers at Browns (20-23)
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Week 3 1 2 3 4 F
Steelers 0 10 10 0 20
Browns 14 0 3 6 23

Key Stats & Facts
• ZERO: Number of timeouts remaining when Kent Graham took an unforgivable sack instead of throwing ball away with 8 seconds left. Also the number of times Jerome Bettis SHOULD have been allowed to throw the ball.
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• ONE: The number of catches by #1 draft choice Plaxico Burress. Also the number of fingers extended on-camera by Cleveland punter Chris Gardocki after Joey Porter clocked him.
• TWO: The number of TD's by Cleveland's sophomore QB Tim Couch. Also number of Pittsburgh's consecutive losses to Cleveland.
• THREE: The number of sacks by Browns' #1 draft choice Courtney Brown. Also the number of Couch completions over 35 yards.
• FOUR: The number of passes smacked down at the line by Browns. Also the same number of Lombardi Trophies the Rooney family will have by the time our sons start college.
• FIVE: The number of times I vomited after the game. Also the number of games we'll be lucky to win this year.
• Tim Couch 23 of 31, 316 yards, 2 TD, 0 Int, 0 sacks: A star is born. There were at least a half-dozen extremely difficult yet absolutely PERFECT passes pitched by Couch on Sunday. Give credit where credit is due.
• Bettis 23 carries, 132 yards, 5.7 avg, 1 TD: Anyone who doubts that Bettis still "has it" is mistaken. The front office failed to get a contract extension done this past offseason, so he'll be gone via free agency after this season... along with all of our other great players.
• Hines Ward 5 rec, 47 yards, COUNTLESS big plays: As far as I'm concerned, Troy Edwards should be relegated to carrying Ward's jock from now on. Ward's gutty, intelligent play on both offense & special teams presented many of the scant highlights of the day for Pittsburgh (e.g., great kick return to open 2nd half, numerous clutch catches, the heads-up fumble recovery to preserve that ill-fated final drive).
• K.Johnson 4 rec, 97 yards: Oh, those dreaded defensive breakdowns. Johnson was largely a non-factor until his HUGE 79-yard grab late in the 4th quarter that set up Cleveland's go-ahead score. It seems we're doomed to watch opposing receivers streak unmolested for 50-75 yard gains each week. Oh, the humanity...
• Josh Miller should be our highest-paid player: This guy is awesome. Awesome, awesome, awesome. Hats off to our entire punt coverage team, too (but NOT our kickoff coverage).

Who got it RIGHT in their PREGAME predictions?
No one really nailed it, although Tom Bragg did predict a loss.

Wham, Bam, Thank You, Graham!
Article by McMillen & Wife

Wow. Graham gives the Browns a gift victory on the final play of regulation. I should be furious, right? I'm not. I should be dejected, too, shouldn't I? I'm not. Disappointed? Mildly, I suppose... but not much. Ironically, following a game where very little went as I predicted it would, I'm simply not all that surprised.

Why? Well, I guess it's because of something that comes hard at first, but gets easier over time when you're a fan of a losing team... acceptance.

The writing is on the wall, Steeler brethren, and has been for some time. This would've been extremely hard to take in '98 when expectations for the team were so high. But the bar for realistic expectations for this edition of the Steelers was lowered to the bottom rung before the season even started. At this point, I'm perfectly willing to accept these guys with open arms even when they sink beneath that pitifully low bar as they did today.

You've gotta keep your sense of humor about all this. Ridiculous things happen to losing teams. Plays that should be good simply go wrong. Case in point: the Jerome Bettis wounded duck interception. Is it Cowher's fault? I mean, did we REALLY need to get cute when Bettis was running so well? I dunno. On paper, it was an outstanding call, and in design, it worked beautifully. Plaxico Burress was absolutely ALONE in the end zone on the play, but Bettis never even looked at him. So should we blame Bettis for poor execution? Nah, how can we? He's not a QB... we can't exactly expect him to go through his progression of reads like Joe Montana, now can we? And he was OUTSTANDING in every other facet of his game.

Again I'll say it: ridiculous things happen to losing teams. How is it possible that a veteran QB like Graham could lose track of where he was time-wise at such a critical moment of the game? We were in chip-shot range of the tying FG... the absolute worst we could do was overtime. Yet with no time outs, our completely immoble QB decides to try to run around to "buy time" against the NFL's leading sack attack and is hauled down with 8 seconds left, leaving no time to get the kicking team onto the field in time. How is it possible?

I dunno. Ask a fan of a team like Cinci or New Orleans why things happen the way they do and I bet they'll simply respond with a perplexed shrug. It's not apathy... it's the shrug of acceptance. Get used to it.

Oh, there were a number of bright spots... Jerome Bettis looked as good as ever, the offensive line performed showed dramatic improvement, Hines Ward showed a lot of heart, and Josh Miller was nothing short of phenominal. But let's face it... facing the Titans, Jaguars, and Jets over the next three weeks, we're looking at an 0-5 start to the season. Write it down.

So be it... REAL fans will still be here rooting for 'em while they're busy amassing the league's worst record. Will we bitch about it and berate them at times? Of course... but we'll ALWAYS remain fans in the truest sense of the word. We made it through the late '80's... we can weather this storm.

One good thing... I think we'll finally have a high enough pick to draft that premier QB we've been coveting for nearly two decades. We'll also be getting a brand spanking new stadium next year. Ride the storm out, bruthas & sistas... when it's all over, you'll be able to say (with a certain amount of pride, believe it or not) that you survived it.

Send us your comments, folks.

Tim McMillen
Webmaster, McMillen & Wife

P.S.--I took extensive notes (literally pages of 'em) while watching this game, but I'm simply not in the mood to rehash it piece by piece. In lieue of that, here is an incredibly well-written fan submission penned by Keith Thomas. It's as in-depth and insightful as anything you'll find anywhere:

Submitted by Keith Thomas
If there is such a thing as an ugly win, then there is also such a thing as a "dumb loss." And today's was certainly a "dumb loss."

The Steelers are now 0-2 both for the year, and in their last two meetings with the arch-rival Browns.

What to make of it?

Going into this game it was described by many players as a "must win" situation. "Must win," because the team needed to rebound from the beating they took from Baltimore, and "must win" because our next three opponents are Tennessee, Jacksonville, and the Jets.

Lets face it, today's game was an important game, and it was an important game for us to win. We were also quite capable of winning today, of that there should be no doubt. The reality that today's was such a dumb loss really makes it sting all the more often.

I'm not frequently a fan of taking one play or a few plays out of an entire football game and saying "that is the reason for the loss." But it is clear today that we can look at three dumb decisions/plays which were pivotal in the loss.

1. The half back option from Bettis. If you try to live by these plays, you will die by these plays. Gadget plays can give a nice wrinkle to an offense that's got its rhythm flowing (ala "Slash" in 1995) but we clearly don't have offensive rhythm. Bettis threw the ball right into double coverage. Forget about him not seeing Plaxico wide open, the play shouldn't have been called. We had the mo, and even three points would have been better. Instead, it allowed Cleveland back in the game.

2. The decision to run on 1st and Goal with less than one minute to play. A team in this situation needs to take at least one shot at the end zone. My guess is that Gilbride/Cowher were trying to catch them off guard. Not a bad idea. But far better to throw on first, take a shot, if it misses, the clock is stopped and you don't have to spike. Then, try a surprise run for second down, and while you're at it, call a your play for third down. Doing it this way would have kept a lot of options open.

3. Graham taking the sack. This is not the coach's fault. Any QB with his level of experience in the league should know that you do anything but take a sack in this situation. Officials rarely call intentional grounding in this type of situation, and even if they do, you were one third down, the clock stops, you lose the down and a few yards, but you've still got the chip shot field goal.

As I said, this was a dumb loss.

OK, so now what?

Well, I've said all along that this is a team that isn't going to win a lot of ball games early in the year. And today I think I saw some palpable improvement. It make take a while to turn this improvement into wins, but I a few elements of our game have picked up.

The run blocking on the offensive line I think is getting better. No, we're no where near where we were from 92-97. But I think we are getting better than we were in 98 and 99, and I think barring injury, by mid season it will be clear that this unit has improved. Cleveland's got a good front four, yet they were able to create holes, sometimes wide holes for our running backs.

To those who have been clamoring for Bettis' removal because he's washed up, today's performance by the Bus should stand as an official come-uppance. If Bettis turns in a few more games like today's game it will also be clear that the Steelers will allow him to leave at their peril.

I don't know the quality of Cleveland's offensive line, but I liked the way our D-Line stuffed their running game. This really surprise me.

One the downside, regarding both the line and the linebackers, their was absolutely NO hint of a pass rush today. This needs to change. If, over the last two years, you gave Kordell the kind of time to throw that Couch had today... well, I won't go that far, but I make my point.

I like the performance of our Wideouts today. Bobby Shaw continues to give me pleasant surprises, and Hines Ward continues to do all that is asked of him. Hines Ward has done everything the Steelers have asked of him. He is quite an athlete, he is clearly versatile and clearly, more needs to be asked of him.

The fact that the receivers did so well on a day that Plaxico was so quite says a lot of good about the rest of the group. It also says that Graham/Gilbride needs to make more of an effort to get the ball to him that might have been the difference today.

Other than his bone headed mistake at the end of the game, Graham looked good when he had time, was on target, and generally made good decisions.

But if we just lost the Browns and we've got three TOUGH games ahead, what does all of this mean?

The conventional wisdom going into today was that if the Steelers lost this game, then they were by definition consigned to losing for the rest of the season.

In light of some of the strides we made today, I disagree.

Today's loss only has snowball effect is if the Steelers allow it.

It is Bill Cowher's job to see that they don't.

Fan Smak & Analysis
The following articles are listed in the order they were received (with the most recent entries at the top). This isn't a "guestbook" format... I read and manually insert every message, so you may not see your submission show up immediately. Thanks a million for your comments, people!
Submitted by Paul Paulsen
Sunday was indeed a dark day for Steeler Football! I'm not sure if anyone has mentioned it but to me what burns my butt the most is handing the Brownies their first win at home. I hate that it had to be us. But like everyone has already established we handed it to them on a silver platter. There were many points in the game where I felt we cost ourselves.

To begin with the "D" came out flat. Once we got started we still gave up to many big plays. Think about all the big plays we gave up after our star punter and punt coverage team stuck those Brownies near their own end zone. Those big plays eventually turned into points for the Brownies. Take away those big plays and maybe we win the ball game.

A point everyone has brought up is why do we have Bettis going through the air when he is killing them on the ground? In my mind if you got a Bus that ain't broke and is running well why the hell don't you just finish them off with it.

1st and goal at the 8 or 9 yard line with 35 seconds left and no timeouts with a 6'6" reciever against a corner who might be 6'0". I know what I would be doing but I'm not the coach so we run up the middle and spike the ball if he doesn't get in! How in the world could they think that plan sounded like a good idea? To much time wasted would be my first thought as it was when they did it! I don't get it, do they not have faith in Plax? Did they draft him to use him as a decoy? At least take one, perhaps two snaps and give the kid a chance to fail or be the hero. Then kick the damn field goal. I would have been happier if Graham threw an interception in the end zone then to see what they did from 1st and goal on through the rest of the way.

Graham had the final blow with his costly sack on 3rd down. Do I blame the loss on Graham? No, he needs to be accountable for the botched play but all in all he had a decent game. Think about it folks, he was not brought in to be the savior. I think everyone knows that.

I place the majority of the blame directly on the coaching. I question some of the play calling during pivotal points in the game.

Well, enough about what we did wrong. I'm beating a dead horse.

I have a couple of questions for all of you. What do you think about this whining from Coach Palmer and the rest of the Brown faithful? They win the game and they are still whining about their punter getting the wind knocked out of him. This is football not golf. This is a contact sport. The hit was legal whether he was getting picked on or not. I'm sick of hearing them whine about "our punter this" and "out punter that". Suck it up, it's a rivalry, there are going to be cheap shots. I don't hear Kirkland whining about the cheap shot he took from Rhett on his sprained ankle. For that matter I don't hear any of us whining about it.

What do all of you think about Amos getting some playing time?

Well I suppose I'll wrap up for now. Like most of you my blood runs black and gold. Like most of you it hurts to see our once proud team lying on the bottom of the NFL. I think we all knew that we were going to have some tough times this season. We will get back, keep the faith.

Steeler faithful,
Paul Paulsen

Submitted by Tommy "Fleetwood 'N' Julio" Coleman
Oh the Pain...

The worst part of Pumpkin Enemas is having to hold them for five weeks till the doctor you visited in Cleveland can make a house call.It could be worse though,we could get a "No Hands" Proctologist from Tennessee with a Medical degree from AstroDome Medical College in hear next WEAK [sic] for an Ole In & Out Extraction.

Carroll L. Martin/the Browns Haters page!(really! 3Ts and a bottle of beer)

A little lighter
A little quicker
Just check the "Pass" at the curb!

P.S.--Tim I think your being a little hard on the Beaver. Neil O'Dollar was the team MVP in 1995 and we wouldn't have gotten to Super Bowl 30 without him. I... Oh, man, got to go... Fleetwood 'N' Julio just started tearing up the house and crapping on themselves!(didn't know they could read)

Love, Tommy

Submitted by Bob Carapella


Submitted by Terry Ingle (a.k.a. M1A1HVY)
Let me start by saying that it was a terrible game the other night. I thought for sure we had it pulled out at the end, but then it happened. I have never ever in my entire life seen such mismanagement of plays, situations and especially the clock. Put that all together...........WE DESERVED TO LOSE THIS ONE. The fellas can blame this one on one fundamental thing that football players learn on Junior Varsity.....EXECUTION!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Yeah, I might sound like a tape recorder, however, execution is what did this to us. Execution is the key to the game. Blame Graham, blame Cowher, Blame Gilbright or Blame the defense for allowing the Browns to score 23 points. Blame whoever you is a team game. The team lost this one. OK, so the refs let 5 seconds run off of the clock...SO WHAT!!!!!!!! 5 seconds is less than 99.99 % of 60 minutes. What happened to the other 59 minutes and 55 seconds. As I read your post and all the other posts from the DIE HARDS, I couldn't agree more. 0-5 is a real good reality check. DO NOT BE SURPRISED!!!!!! I guess we'll get rid of Kordell, THE "BUS" and a couple of other players in the off season to make room so we could get Vick out of Virginia Tech. Is that what we are playing for now?? With all this said, I am still looking forward to the Tennessee game next week. I can't wait for Sundays to roll around now. It doesn't matter how bad these guy play, I am still a die hard and will always be a Die hard Pittsburgh Steeler Fan. Jack Lambert said it correct when he said......."If I could start my life all over again, I would be a professional football player, and you damn well better believe I would be a Pittsburgh Steeler!" That is about how I feel. I will always be a Pittsburgh Steeler Fan.

On another note, since I'm in Germany and don't have the luxury to get the game, I log on to and get the pleasure of listening to Hilgrove, Ilkin and of course YOI and Triple YOI Cope. Cope was all over it again. He held nothing back. Even called Daylon McCutcheon from Cleveland a "LITTLE SHRIMP" because he was going against Plaxico. Ha, we see that didn't matter. Anyway, during the broadcast, I also went on the Official Web Site of the Steelers, and participated in about a 4 1/2 chat with allot of die hards. Judy couldn't understand what all the fuss was about in the family room until she came in and seen what I was doing. I recommend that all the Die Hards get on this chat during the games so we can talk CASH sh.....t. Hell, even a Raider Fan had the bal.....s to get on this thing. We wore his ass out real quick. He didn't stand a chance. Here is the site Once on the site, just go to Steelers Talk on click on MESSAGE BOARD AREA. You need to register, but that is only a 2 minute process. If you guys are ever on there, my handle is M1A1HVY. Here is to all my BRUTHAS and SISTAS of the PITTSBURGH STEELER faith.

Terry (a.k.a. M1A1HVY)

Submitted by Dick Fronko
To McMillen and Wife,

I flashed an e-mail to you at the end of last season re: Cowher and it is clear that I can stand by my comments now that there is some results out on the field. Cowher must go, he does not have what it takes to lead this or any Pittsburgh team. A good defense coordinator, perhaps, but as a HEAD COACH, (And all the responsibility that that implies), it is pretty clear that he should step aside as soon as the year is done. The WRONG GUY LEFT THE ORGANIZATION THIS YEAR!!!!! (And I do mean Tom D).

Dick Fronko

Submitted by Michael
Why is everyone blaming Graham? It it hadn't been for him the game wouldn't have even been that close. Do we really think Stewart could have done any better? Please! I think the blame should go to Cowher. With no more time than that was left and no time outs, kick the damn field goal. Was I the only one who thought it was stupid to run another play anyway. Man!

Submitted by
Ladies and gentlemen - The Pittsburgh Steelers are now on the clock!

Submitted by Tom Bragg
This past Sunday in Cleveland , the whole world saw just how far the once mighty Steelers have fallen . The Steelers are on the verge of becoming the laughingstock of the NFL . That is painful to say , but thats just the way it is . On a day , when the name Plaxico Burress could easily have become a household name , the end result was this . One catch and nothing more . The former number one pick with the 6,000,000 dollar signing bonus ran over , through and around the Browns secondary all day long . Burress was a good six to eight inches taller than any of the Browns defensive backs . The guy was wide open on practiclly every play . The funny thing is , as big as Burress is , no one passing the ball for the Steelers could see him . Jerome Bettis could not see him on the halfback option play that should NEVER have been called to begin with . Burress was running down the middle of the field wide open with arms waving in the air , and no Browns player within 10 yards of him . Bettis instead , throws the ball into double coverage and its intercepted . With the game on the line , and only seconds remaining Kent Graham decides to hold on to the ball and get sacked . End result , the Steelers lose , again ! On the above mentioned play , Graham admitted after the game that as soon as he dropped back to pass he was looking for Bobby Shaw , who incidently was double covered on the play . My question is , why in Gods name when you have a reciever who is six to eight inches taller than the guy covering him , why in the hell was Burress not the first option on the play . Drop back , lob the ball in the corner of the endzone and let Burress go get it . If he catches it , steelers win , game over . If h doesnt , its nothing more than an incomplete pass and the clock stops , you then bring in your kicker for a chip shot , the game is tied and you go into overtime . Kevin Gilbride admitted after the game that Burress was wide open on the play . How can you not see him on the play , or at least give him a chance to win the game for you ? What Kent Graham did on that play was absolutely inexcuseable ! There was no rhyme or reason for it ! Thank God , that had not been Kordell Stewert on that play . If it had of been , he would have been assasscinated when he stepped off the plane at the Pittsburgh airport . The Steelers are in their darkest hour , how much worse can this get ? Only time will tell .

Submitted by George Adamson
When a coach keeps one of his most talented players on the bench, does he still deserve to be called "a coach"? If the speedy Kordell Stewart belonged on the field for only one play in the Browns game, it was when a sack must be avoided at all costs. Cower said he would use Kordell in short yardage situations so again he broke his word! The end result was what Cower deserved.

A Cleveland writer predicted that Kordell will be back as the starting quarterback by the sixth game of the season. If he isn't, I may boycott following the Steelers for the rest off the season and encourage anyone else who shares my views to do the same. No matter how badly Kordell may be at the moment, there is always the potential for Kordell to pull off a spectacular play worth watching. Graham is too boring, a cut below Tomzak!

Chan Galey built an offense around Kordell's skills. Sherman and Gilbride tried to convert Kordell into their images of a quarterback. Everybody lost. Kordell may take some team to the Super Bowl during his career, but sadly it won't be Pittsburgh because of dumb Steeler fans who undermine players' self-confidence by booing them so they cannot do their best. The reality is that no matter which quarterback the Steelers may draft or sign, he will never satisfy the fans for long. Does a newly drafted quarterback even get playing time and experience to see if he is an answer for the future?

Remember when O'Donnell took the Steelers to the Super Bowl behind a great offensive line.? The next year with the Jets he got the daylights beaten out of him because the Jets didn't have a decent line. Because the Titans are strong up front, he is having reasonable success there. A quarterback is only as good as the line in front of him! With the Steeler line as leaky as a sieve, an immobile quarterback is a sitting duck. Cower deserves what he got!

Submitted by Gspook
Dear Mac and Wife,

I can't believe that we suck so bad that we have to complain about what we did on the final possession of the game. I hope that we can all see the obvious not that we have to figure out what we did wrong on the last drive, but the fact that the Browns were actually beating us. We had to come from behind. I could accept this if this were the Jagwads, Tennessee, or even the Ravens, but this was the Browns. Maybe I misunderstood, but isn't this the team that didn't have a team just 2 years ago. I have lived through the David Woodley, Mark Malone, and Cliff Stoudt years, I even lived through Neil I got payed off to throw two interceptions O'Donnel to Larry "the scrub I no longer am in the league" Brown, but those teams seem like superbowl champs compared to what we are placing on the field today. I think heart is what makes the difference between winning and losing sometimes, so we are in need of a good heart surgeon. I think we basically have three areas to work on. First, is obvious get a freaken quarterback that can play. Trent Green is my first choice, but we wont sign him because he may cost too much money. He isn't quiet the $25 million dollar Kordell was for his stellar performances the last few years. Second, lets bring back Mean Joe, LC, Dwight white, and ernie Holmes back to play, I mean that can probably get more pressure on the qb than we are now. Third, lets get some offensive lineman and stick with them. I mean over the last few years how many offensive lineman have we drafted in the first three rounds and cut or never gave a chance to. Sorry I rambled on, but this is just pathetic. Any one wants to rap about the steelers just email me at


Submitted by Bob Carapella



Submitted by David Bolock
I think Richard Huntley summed it up best after his touchdown run. Holding one finger in the air - we are headed for the #1 pick in the 2001 draft. I am a little concerned about the San Diego Chargers though, they look like a threat.

Time to face facts - we do not have the talent to compete with the better/average teams in this league. I do like the character of this football team. My hats off to veterans like Jerome Bettis, Levon Kirkland, etc who are not quitting on us. The last two years I watched a Steelers team quit in mid-season.

It is going to be a long season. I will be there during every pathetic moment watching my team "Bungle" opportunities.

Let's look at the positives. Hines Ward - use him, Troy Edwards - bench him. Plaxico B. - just give him the d**n ball (as Keyshawn Johnson would say). Offensive Line - improving? Punter/Kicker - Pro Bowl Caliber.

I live in Tampa and am watching the TB Bucs literally kick the crap out of their opponents with superior talent and conservative coaching (Tony Dungy). If Bill Cower was the coach of the Bucs this year everyone would think he was a genius. My perspective, talent = wins more often than coaches = wins.

Submitted by Geoff Hager
It's getting more and more difficult to come up with positive aspects to the Steelers Play when friends and co-workers have new ammo to ridicule the Steelers every week. I've been a faithful Steelers fan since 1978 when I began playing Football. I have always stood up for them whether they were 3 and 13 or 13 and 3. I like Cowher's intensity and most of his play calling but the team cannot seem to execute anything execpt themselves. I will continue to support the Steelers with my head held high, but with a towel handy to wipe the egg off my face.

Geoff Hager
Winston-Salem, NC

Submitted by Ray Burtner

After the debacle yesterday and the point FINALLY being driven home that , without question, we have sunk to the bottom of the NFL - the question is: "What now?".

The answer is, as fans, NOTHING. Except hope that the entire front office wakes up like we have and smells the coffee. Wholesale coaching changes? Maybe, but head coaches and staff RARELY get fire during the season. We're stuck with this bunch through the rest of the season. I have always been a fan of Cowher but it's clear this ship cannot be righted. Also, the mismanagement by the front office the last 4, 5 years is irreversible. All you can do is hope they WAKE UP and do not continue this pattern.

Lastly, now is the time when you find out who the REAL Pittsburgh Steeler fans are. It's easy to be a fan when you are winning. Sticking with your team during the lean times shows who's in it for fun, and who's in it for the long haul.

Keep the faith, Ray

Submitted by Bruce Hicks
Hi again, Tim. Naturally I was anxious to read the updates to your site after the game. The Brownies could very well repeat their 2-14 season; but the victory yesterday worked on every imaginable level. I have to admit that I'm puzzled by all the "we blew it talk." You guys had the genius Cowher, the veteran Graham, the vintage Bus, the dominant offensive line play, the time, the big receiver,the two "bye" weeks to heal and focus, the "crappy" opponent...hell what advantage didn't you guys own? I guess what satisfies me most is that, with all the talk of how your guys committed key did we. You folks didn't run into an inspired Cleveland team playing above itself. If we had taken advantage of a couple of gimme plays on offense and defense, the end of the game would have been only for the point spread.

Anyway, the football cycle turns. You kicked our orange and brown butts in our initial return and then waited a year to become our initial home victims. That's symmetry and we'll meet again in a few weeks. It should be interesting.

Submitted by Scott Springer
Dear Fellow Suffering Steelers' Fan,

I read the article by Ron Cook and fired off this letter in response. No, I do not like the majority of sports journalists out there (maybe from my days at Syracuse where everyone in Newhouse was a snot-nosed punk who couldn't throw a block if their lived depended on it, but thought they knew every sport inside and out), and my animosity probably shows in this letter. Still, I see Mr. Cook attempting to deflect much of the blame from Coach (?) Cowher and towards (although some IS justified, but not all) Graham.

Now to the letter...

Dear Mr. Cook,

Once again, a member of the media has proven himself to be less than astute on the ways of the gridiron.

Once again, someone is laying blame where it doesn't belong.

I know that it is routine, almost tradition, to torture quarterbacks in Pittsburgh. You have a wonderful history in the Pittsburgh newspapers of attempting to ruin the careers of one quarterback after another.

Yes, Kent Graham made a bonehead play yesterday, ending the Steelers' day. Yes, he should have thrown it at Burress, or at least thrown it away. He should have known better.

But the blame for this game rests squarely on the shoulders of Bill Cowher. I have defended many of his decisions over the last couple of years. But it looks as if the former members of the team and coaching staff who have gotten out over the last few years had the right idea.

Bill Cowher is an undisciplined coach. He has an undisciplined team. Yesterday's game proves it.

Disciplined coaches don't make bonehead calls just after getting the ball back on a turnover. Yes, you go for the kill - it's the perfect time. But how many times has Bettis thrown the ball in the last few years? You go for a touchdown strike in the corner of the end zone to Burress. You don't get fancy to catch the team off-guard - they already are. They've just lost the ball and you have momentum, and in this case, they had just come off the field. This is the best time to go for a TD strike, but with a conventional offensive play.

Disciplined coaches also don't call timeout with 35 seconds left without calling two, or even three, plays. Calling timeout, running a play, then killing the clock by spiking the ball? You just called a timeout! Why wouldn't you have a second or third play set up to run? Okay, I'll give you the draw - but the spike itself cost the Steelers four or five seconds that might have been enough to get that last snap off - even after the sack. Personally, I thought the draw was a bad idea, and with the receivers that the Steelers have drafted over the last couple of years you really need to put that ball up three consecutive plays.

That brings us to that sack. Why don't you run another play with 14 seconds left in regulation on third down? Why do you kick the FG, go to OT, and take your chances there? First, the Steelers' O-line is, for the most part, dreadful at pass blocking; too many young players on that line. Second, if you have a bad snap, you get outside and throw the ball to the end zone - then line up and re-kick the thing. Third, you have a 50-50 shot at winning the coin toss, an offense that has been moving the ball all game, and a defense that has the ability to stop the Browns, despite the previous two drives; the Browns offense came alive on the last two drives of the game but previous to that was fairly inept since the first quarter. I'd take my chances with that - you know that the possibility of a sack is more than a remote possibility with how poorly the Steelers' had pass blocked all game.

The entire sequence of events was poor for the Steelers. The team executed poorly, but they were set up poorly with undisciplined calls and clock management from the sidelines. Before you lay the entire blame for this game at the feet of Mr. Graham, take a look at the guys calling the shots.

Scott Springer
Dover, PA

Submitted by VB
The trouble is drafting and EGO. What's up with the draft strategy? I guess if your ego is big enough you dont need to draft a QB. Well the glaring lack at QB ate the Steelers alive on Sunday.

Submitted by Barry Fox
well here we are trying to figure out what happened! well let's start with the defense, we need more penetration to the qb! did you see how we did a better job after the first two touchdowns. where is our secondary and what about the blitzing we were hoping to see more of ! everyone talked about bettis after the first week well with some blocking from a offensive line that is improving we can run and pass the ball! i have said it since the season started hines ward should start instead of edwards. i like every effort bobby shaw gave to get us down the field. we can talk about the interception that bettis threw but you know what we still had the momentum on our side even after that. i finally saw why we drafted hank poteat. but my anger and frustration is with the poor decision making of kent graham at the end of the game! COME ON YOU HAD SEVENTEEN SECONDS TO TRY FOR A TOUCHDOWN AND THEN KICK THE FIELD GOAL IF YOU COULDN'T SCORE! MY THING IS WHY DID YOU TRY TO SCRAMBLE ON THAT PLAY AND TAKE A SACK! WE SHOULD BE TALKING ABOUT A OVERTIME GAME! INSTEAD WE ARE TALKING ABOUT A BONEHEAD PLAY THAT SHOULD HAVE NEVER HAPPEN! OUR DEFENSE HAD NO INT'S AND NO SACKS AGAIN! I WILL SAY THIS IT ONLY TAKES ONE MORE BAD GAME OF DECISION MAKING BEFORE YOU SEE KORDELL OUT THERE AGAIN YES I SAID IT! KORDELL (SLASH) STEWART! DEFENSE ALSO NEED TO MAKE MORE PLAYS!

Submitted by Joe Roberts
Dear Mac and Lovely Wife,

I think it's time to face reality. The Steelers are now the worst team in the NFL and we'd better get used to losing to the Clowns for a long time. They've got a stud QB in Tim Couch and the Steelers have Graham Cracker, Slash, and a Tee. It's really pitiful when you think about it. We could have taken Chad Pennington and had ourselves a good young QB to groom for the future. Instead we decided to waste one more year hoping that Kordell would find himself or, in case he didn't, that a reject loser like Kent Graham would be the savior.

Graham deservedly wears the goat's horns for this loss but in reality others must share in the blame. Blame the front office for letting so many quality players escape via free agency, blame the scouting department for the mediocre drafts the Steelers have had recently, blame a group of no-talent players, and finally, blame Bill Cowher whose frothing at the mouth style simply isn't working anymore.

It's really sickening to know that the Steelers have fallen below the expansion Browns. The only remaining games I see they have a prayer of winning are the two against the Bengals and we always seem to find a way to screw up against them. The first pick in the 2001 draft appears to be Pittsburgh's for the taking. Given the Steelers recent history in the draft one wonders how they'll manage to screw this one up. Pitiful, plumb pitiful!!!!

Yours truly,
Joe Roberts

P.S.--I just found out that Virginia Tech has an open date this coming week. Someone tell Bill Cowher to get in touch with Frank Beamer in Blacksburg and ask if he can borrow Michael Vick for next week's game against the Titans. It's a matter of life and death.

Submitted by Sean O'Connor
OK,,Let me start out by saying ohhhh sweet god....this must be a test. For too long I have been spoiled..Steelers coming and going faster than I can change underwear! But yet..year after year...We keep the dream alive!! My friends...I have just woken up from that glorious dream! Free agency losses, the inability/willingness to keep great players, and finally the blunders of a coaching staff that leads me to believe they do not know what to do.

This will be a long...ugly..disappointing season, but, my friends..I continue to wear my black and gold proudly!! showing my support for a team that although stumbling and bumbling, lives and breathes inside of me! You say, wow...thats a little much, I say I can not help what I feel. To me, there are no better fans than our beloved Steel fraternity of men and women, girls and boys, dogs, cats, etc...Hats off to us all! I know I am not the only who feels this way. I just hope that on the dawning of a new, I might add that is being built because the Steeler fans are unlike no others in the league!, the Rooney family steps up to the table and opens the checkbook. I didn't say sign all the blank checks and leave them on the kitchen table to be taken at will, but please, for heavens sake, at least open up the damn thing, blow the dust off of it, use the treasured key to unlock it,,and at least open it!! I am damned tired of watching ex Steelers battle for other teams, worst yet, kick our ass!!

So, to you my Steeler faithful..for this must be a test...and only a test. Now back to your regularly scheduled programming...


Submitted by McDAWG from Scotland
i,ve managed to get my paws on the fixture list for you next season it,s as follows, week1 at BERLIN THUNDER , week2 RHINE FIRE , week3 at SCOTTISH CLAYMORES and week4 atAMSTERDAM, i think you guys can go all the way , i,m sure you,ll all enjoy playing over here i,m looking forward to hearing the squeelers fans well known chant BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO...


Submitted by Tom Parrotte
I have never seen a more horrific sequence in the last 30 seconds of a game in all my years of watching football. The fact that it was perpetrated by my beloved Steelers just kills me. The attempted draw play on first down was a terrible call; such a play won't work on consecutive downs, and started the downward spiral that led to the clock running out on one of the few games that we will have a genuine chance to win this season.

I hate gadget plays. When your running game is working, when you have just scored to take the lead, when you get a turnover to add to the lead, why get cute? Jam the ball down their throats, and at least walk away with a six point lead. This game is chock full of "shoulda beens."

Miller and the punting unit were exceptional today, though. Too bad the defense not only didn't capitalize on the field position, they allowed two 85+ yard drives. Unheard of!! Well, it's gonna be a long year. Sorry this rambles and is not very lucid, but high frustration levels don't allow for Pulitzer style script. Talk to ya later....they're my team and I love 'em always.


Submitted by Steve Massey
Well, that one was a complete blown game and noone can argue with me on that. There's blame to go all around but I say it is poor clock management. You don't run a draw when you have two shots at winning with passes into the endzone and a ninch inch height advantage in one corner of it. If you miss both shots barring an interception then you kick a field goal and win it in OT. That was a blown game that's all there is to it.

I have always hated Cleveland and still do. Die, River Burners! Drew Carey sucks the big one.

At least you all got to see a team in black in gold win on national TV when the University of Southern Mississippi won Saturday (home of louis Lipps) against Alabama!Go Eagles!!!!

-Steve Massey
North Carolina
USM 1994

Submitted by Noway Jose
No matter how loudly we may decry the decision making on the last series of today's game...kick a field goal, throw a pass, spike the ball, run the ball...the situation was created when Bill Cowher, personally, wasted the final timeout. The coaches (especially the head coach) are paid big bucks to remain calm and to foresee situations that may arise. The final timeout should have been preserved for getting the field goal team onto the field in the event the Steelers couldn't get the TD, had a sack, a bad snap...any one of a number of unforseen things. It's difficult to build anything with no tools or material... like a timeout! There is enough blame for all to have a share, but in my not so humble opinion, coach Cowher should absorb more than the lion's share (they aren't doing too well either, are they?).

Submitted by Dianne Rossini
Cowher has lost his touch. What on earth was he thinking when he used our LAST time-out to stop the clock? If this makes sense to anyone out there, I'd like them to explain it to me. Then to make matters worse, with only seconds left on the clock he got greedy and gambled it all instead of going for the almost certain tie. I'm not angry or disappointed that we lost -- just the stupid, unnecessary way we lost this one.

Submitted by Mike DeLancey
This can be blamed on Cowher and Gillbride. There is absolutely no good reason to have Bettis passing the ball on the 20 yrd line in a 3 pt game. We were running all over them until Cowher decides (once again) to get cute. I have always been a big Cowher fan, but I am beginning to have my doubts. We had them on the ropes and allowed Cleveland to come back.

I am ONE pissed off fan.

Sorry for my venting but whatever happened to "Pound the ball till it hurts"... We had that opportunity today and we didn't..


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MVP (?) Award
Who deserves this week's game bag (that's right, BAG... game balls are for when we win)?
Kent Graham
 ( 38%)
Bill Cowher
 ( 36%)
Kevin Gilbride
 ( 15%)
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Defensive Line
 ( 2%)
Tim Lewis
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