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What a weekend
December 6, 2009 - John Mehno
They're probably mopping up tears amid the spilled beers at Heinz Field.
It was not a good weekend for Pittsburgh's football teams. Both Pitt and the Steelers disappointed sellout crowds on consecutive afternoons.
First, Pitt blew a 21-point lead and a chance at the Big East title and a BCS bowl. They're headed to the Dec. 26 Meineke Car Care Bowl in Charlotte, which is the most dubious consolation prize since losers on "Let's Make a Deal" got a year's supply of Turtle Wax. But Pitt's story has been written.
The Steelers, 27-24 losers to Oakland, are another matter. They lost in Baltimore with their third-string quarterback, and coach Mike Tomlin was defiant afterwards. He promised his team would "unleash hell" in December, a phrase that wise-guy writers (Hi) have been making hay with ever since.
But Sunday's post-game Tomlin was anything but defiant. He looked bewildered for the first time, like he doesn't have clue to stop what's going on. Missing Troy Polamalu is a big part of it. The Steelers have to throw away a good part of their defensive scheme when he's out. But there are failures on both sides of the ball, plays here and there that add up to a mediocre 6-6 record.
The Steelers can still make the playoffs, but ask yourself this: After what they did today against a bad Oakland team, what makes you think they can beat Green Bay, Baltimore and Miami?