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Steelers’ win over Packers is a familiar refrain

Here we go again.

That sentence was thrown around verbally, mentally and musically Sunday night during the Steelers’ more-thrilling-than-it-had-to-be 31-28 win over the Packers at Heinz Field.

The Packers took a 14-6 lead in the first quarter, and regained the lead in the third quarter when Brett Hundley threw a 55-yard touchdown pass to Davante Adams to make the score 21-14.

It was the third touchdown pass of the night for Hundley, who was making his fifth start this season in place of the injured Aaron Rodgers and entered the game with just two career touchdown passes to his name.

Here we go again.

The Packers owned all the momentum until Mike McCarthy called on Mason Crosby to attempt a 57-yard field goal in perhaps the NFL’s least hospitable stadium for field goal kickers. His miss gave the Steelers the ball at their 47-yard line, and Pittsburgh tied the game late in the third quarter when Ben Roethlisberger threw a 1-yard touchdown pass to Antonio Brown.

The third quarter ended with Cameron Heyward‘s second sack of the game, forcing the Packers to punt.

At that point the game was looking a lot like the Steelers’ Week 11 win over the Titans, when they slowed down after a fast start, let the Titans hang around and then pulled away in the fourth quarter.

Then NBC intervened.

Coming out of commercial at the start of the fourth quarter, the peacock channel kept with the Pittsburgh theme by playing “Ah! Leah!” by New Castle-born and Ellwood City-raised Donnie Iris.

Pretty cool, except that the last time NBC played that song heading into the fourth quarter of a Steelers game, it was the 2014 AFC wild-card game against the Ravens. The Steelers already were down 20-9, and ended up losing 30-17.

The DJ at Irish Exit, the preeminent Steelers bar in New York City, played that song before the Steelers’ Week 14 loss at home to the Dolphins in 2013. The Steelers lost that game 34-28, but would have won on a last-second lateral party if Brown hadn’t stepped out of bounds at the Miami 12-yard line. Had the Steelers won, they’d have recovered from an 0-4 start that year to make the playoffs.

“Ah! Leah!” is the signature track of Iris’ Back on the Streets album. Seven years before Wiz Khalifa was even born, Iris went all black and yellow on that album cover, donning a black bowtie and a yellow suit. When the LP came out in 1980, the Steelers’ 1970’s dynasty was coming to a close. So perhaps it shouldn’t be surprising that this song about a doomed relationship invokes painful football memories.

And sure enough, Le’Veon Bell fumbled the ball away in Packers territory less than two minutes into the fourth quarter.

Ah! Leah! Here we go again.

The defense bailed out Bell and the offense by forcing a three-and-out, and the Steelers took a 28-21 lead on Roethlisberger’s 33-yard touchdown pass to Brown with just under nine minutes left.

Since that 55-yard TD pass to Adams, Hundley had thrown five straight incompletions and was sacked three times. The Steelers’ defense seemed poised to close this one out, making us forget that it was sliced up for more than a half by an offense that was shut out by the Ravens at home last week.

But it’s not a Packers-Steelers game unless both teams combine for 50 points. In the previous three meetings between these teams, including Super Bowl XLV, they had combined for 73, 56 and 69 points. The Steelers’ defense obliged by allowing Hundley to drive the Packers 77 yards on 12 plays and tie the score on Jamaal Williams‘ 4-yard touchdown run with 2:02 left.

Baby, it’s no good. We’re just asking for trouble.

The Steelers couldn’t get into field goal range on the other side of the two-minute warning and had to punt, but the mercurial defense gave them a second chance when T.J. Watt sacked Hundley and got away with a helmet-to-helmet hit and Ryan Shazier made two successive stops on a taped-up ankle.

Then the Steelers saw once again what Brown can do for them.

With 17 seconds left, the best receiver in the NFL used every available blade of grass to keep his feet inbounds on a 23-yard pass from Roethlisberger. Then he caught another pass for 14 yards that brought the Steelers to the Packers’ 33.

Le’Veon Bell lost two yards on a screen pass, making Chris Boswell‘s job a little harder. For the Steelers to win the game, Boswell would have to kick a 53-yard field goal, which would top his career best by two yards. That’s just what he did, also tying the record for the longest field goal in Heinz Field’s 17-year history. Considering what Boswell has done for the Steelers, it’s about time he earned such a place in Heinz Field kicking lore.

It was the second time in three weeks the Steelers needed a walk-off field goal from Boswell to beat a backup quarterback. The kind of flies in the face of Mike Tomlin’s proclamation in an interview with Tony Dungy that aired on NBC before the game.

“We should win it all,” Tomlin said.

Ooooh, boy.

Tomlin also brazenly looked ahead to the Steelers’ Week 15 showdown against the Patriots, saying that it will probably be “Part I.”

Basically, Tomlin is putting the Steelers in the AFC championship game against the Patriots, and mixing the tracks with his answer to the earlier question, he’s suggesting the Steelers will finally get past the Patriots and reach the Super Bowl.

At least Tomlin wasn’t a total spoiler. He didn’t say where “Part II” was going to be played, so while the Steelers can pretty much book hotel rooms in Houston at least there’s still a little suspense about the winner of the Week 15 game at Heinz Field.

This year, Tomlin doesn’t need Facebook Live to provide the Patriots with bulletin-board material.

Ah! Leah! We ain’t learned our lesson yet.

If Tomlin is going to look ahead not only to one game against the Patriots but another one that doesn’t even exist yet, if it ever will, then Sunday night’s game was Part I of a Trap Game Trilogy. Part II is next week at Cincinnati on Monday Night Football and Part III will be on Dec. 10 on Sunday Night Football at home against the Ravens.

Hopefully NBC changes up its playlist. Or maybe ditches Carrie Underwood for a week and does an Iris/Khalifa collaboration for the opening theme. One can only hope.

Anyway, even though the Steelers survived Part I and they’re 9-2, they don’t look anywhere near ready to take on the Patriots. Their defense ranks fourth in the NFL overall and third against the pass and they’re second in the league with 38 sacks. But over the last five games, they’ve allowed touchdown passes of 54, 55, 75, 60 and 61 yards. This coincides with the loss of Joe Haden, and the Steelers can’t count on him returning from a broken fibula in time for Week 15.

We can only imagine what Aaron Rodgers would have done to the Steelers defense Sunday night, and Tom Brady comes to town in three weeks.

We’ve heard this song before.

Follow Mike @Steel_Tweets.

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