In the mid-90's classic movie
) where new inmates Claude Banks (Martin Lawrence) and Rayford Gibson, (Eddie Murphy) find themselves being asked by the mountainous prison bully Goldmouth (Shaun Rodgers) (Michael Telifarro) for the cornbread off their plates.
Claude takes one look at the big man and is happy to oblige. Rayford will have none of it. Oblivious to the obvious odds, he stares down Goldmouth and tells him, "You can't have my cornbread."
The scene cuts to the prison courtyard, where Rayford, is having his but whupped by Goldmouth. Despite the physical punishment, he refuses to quit, or for that matter to shut his mouth. The fight ends with Rayford, in rather bad shape, being carried out of the prison courtyard by Goldmouth. As the big man hoists him on his back, he whispers to his friend Claude - "he didn't get my cornbread."
Last night's game between the Baltimore Ravens
and the Pittsburgh Steelers
felt more like a prison-yard fight than a football game. When the Ravens version of Goldmouth, Hagoli Nagata, punched Ben Roethlisberger
in the face during the first series breaking his nose so badly that he looked like a Picasso painting of Scottie Pippen, you knew it was game on.
Sadly for the Steelers, it seemed like a one-sided fight. The Ravens defense, like the Bills
before them, had their way with the Steelers bad-news-bears scrap heap of an offensive line. Ben was hit, harassed, bloodied, hobbled, punched, grabbed by the collar and helmet, slammed to the ground and otherwise abused. Roethilsberger,it seems is being punished by the league for the bad publicity he brought to it and for the fact that he lacks the affable charm and good looks that a quarterback needs to do his job in the NFL (date models and sell credit cards).
So where other QBs draw yellow hankies every every time somebody looks at them funny, Ben's tormentors seem to have Dick Cheney like immunity, for an accidental shot in the face, here and there.
To make matters worse it wasn't just Ben that was getting beat up. The Ravens attacked the questionable Steelers secondary by repeatedly running verticale routes from deep in their own end. Twice Brian McFadden made mental mistakes in coverage and let Anquion Boldin get free for big gainers. Flacco, doing his best big Ben impersination was able to take advantage of a broken play by finding Boldin wide open in the endzone.
When Heath Miller
, Daniel Sepulvada and Flozell Adams
all went down things looked grim.
"How are they doing?" my girlfriend asked sensing my despair, from the constant stream of explitives I was hurling at the TV.
"They are getting absolutely killed." I answered.
She looked at the television and said in a tone reserved for small children and the mentally infirm "Isn't the score only 10-6, that doesn't seem soo bad."
She had a point. But I wasn't the only one in Steeler nation feeling a sense of despair. After we failed to score from three consecutive plays inside the 5, LV Steeler Fan wrote in depressed and somewhat prophetic fashion.
"That was game, We have no chance now. Not unless the D or ST comes up with a play. We simply are not getting in the EZ offensively tonight."
That was the wake up call I needed. I mean, I was depressed to0, but , this was Steelers-Ravens. This was two 8-3 teams. This was what we dreamed off all off-season.
Just because they were the better team on paper, just cause they beat the tar out of us for three quarters, just cause we didn't have, our two starting TE's our three starting tackles, our best D-linemen, one of our starting guards, our best receiver from last year, our QB was badly hobbled and couldn't breathe and our new walk-on place kicker had to learn how punt on the sidelines during the 3d quarter didn't mean this game was over.
I put on my rally hat and decided to do the best that I could to enjoy the next 12 minutes of football. That's sort of an odd statement, but I think most of you get it. For many of us these games are really much more fun in retrospect. While they are going on, its hard to watch your team go through it. No matter how many times you hear Coach Tomlin tell you that good teams are forged by adversity or that steel sharpens steel, it doesn't seem fair to say the same about fans. After all it's more fun to watch your team build a 4 TD lead in the first half and start calculating the fantasy points your QB is going to get you this week. Or is it?
As painful as that game was to watch at moments, it was an old fashion gut-check by the Steelers. They never gave up and because of that, and the one guy on our team who is known as much for his hair as for his play, we walked away with a HUGE win. What's more it came on the back of BTSC uber-mensch Isaac Redzone Redman. What more could we want?
As I sit here writing this, I try to imagine what would have happened if things went the other way. What if the Ravens ran another vertical route and beat McFadden for a winning TD. What if Cundiff kicks the tying field goal? What if the ball rolls the other way when Troy knocks it out?
What if? What if?
This morning Raven's fans are attacking Flacco, Cameron and Harbaugh. Steelers fans get to celebrate for a couple days. I like that position. But I like something even better. Last night, the Steelers showed that simply, no matter what happened, they would not give up their cornbread. Good stuff.