Wednesday Night Football

Steelers 19 Ravens 14

Jim Rome
December 03, 2020 - 9:13 am
Robert Griffin

USA Today

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Back in the day, and I speak from experience, as a failed outside sales rep. If anyone can relate to a weds matinee, it’s outside sales reps: you know, you’re supposed to be pounding the bricks, but instead you mix in a movie, or nine or both, and roll into the office just before the end of the day, and drop some small sale you’ve been holding onto for a few days, onto the bosses desk to make it look like you had worked all day, when you really hadn’t. 

That’s what yesterday’s Ravens-Steelers tilt was: a weds matinee or diversion, something you wanted to do instead of what you were supposed to do: smack dab in the middle of a work day: a freaking NFL game at 12:40 pacific time! 

The pandemic season has meant that we’ve had Thursday Night Football, Sunday Football, Sunday Night Football, Monday Night Football, Tuesday Night Football, and now Wednesday Day Football. We’re just missing Friday Morning Football to complete the set.

And that Wednesday Day Football was just outstanding. It truly was. And it could not have gotten off to a better start. The Ravens got the ball first and went three and out. Greeeeat the Steelers went three out and out. Aweeeeessoomee. And for a moment, I was wondering why we were even doing this.

Give me an A or give me an F and that was a C-minus. If you’re going to get together on a Wednesday afternoon for an NFL game, don’t just give us some bum-ass average, boring NFL game. Give us something real. Real good. Or real bad. But something real.  Bad football is better than no football at all. But average football isn’t. Not in the middle of week. In the middle of the day.

And yes, I know that Bob Griffin starting for Baltimore made it different, but after the first series, I needed more than that. Give me something to work with.

And sure enough, after the first two drives, the Ravens and Steelers did just that. They got nice!

After trading three-and-outs, Baltimore got the ball back and fumbled on first down.

Yes, that’s what I’m talking about. Put it on the grrrround!! And that was just the start.

Because a few plays after that, Ben Roethlisberger threw an INT in the end zone. 

Now, we can argue about whether that was a terrible play or not, after all, it was fourth down, so there’s no point in taking a sack, might as well trying to make something happen.

But there is no denying that what Bob Griffin did next was a truly terrible play. Because two plays after Ben Roethlisberger chucked his interception, Griffin went next level.

Anything you can do, I can do worse. That is the Wednesday Afternoon Football I’m here for!! That’s the middle of the week, middle of the day, because we didn’t’ want to jerk with a Christmas tree lighting football that I’m talking about. 

That truly was some Cheez-It Bowl presented by Poulan weedeater level stuff right there. You know, that sixth place team in the SEC v. Some Mountain West team that no one gives a damn about, playing in a bowl game in the middle of November, and stinking up the joint. Now we’re on to something:

And there was still more insanity to come in this sequence. So far we’ve had a fumble, an interception in the end zone, and a pick six. You know what we’re missing? Something from special teams. And a couple plays later, we got it with a muffed punt. 

If you were playing Wednesday Day Football bingo, your card just caught on fire. Fumble, interception, pick six, and muffed punt. And the Ravens turned that into 7 points a few plays later.

At that point, I’m all in. While Thursday night football is one of the worst things ever, I’m thinking after what I’m seeing here, weds day football might be the best single thing ever. 

Not because it was so good, but because it was so bad. So bad it was awesome: I was hoping it would never end. You know when you find your favorite show and you binge, and you hit tha final episode, and you’re just pissed: and you want more so badly: that was yesterday: man, I hope this never ends. Best show ever. As I said, I’m always looking for an A or an F, and that was an A-plus of an F. Best stuff ever. 

Unfortunately, they all settled down. Unfortunately the rest of the game didn’t go that way. It couldn’t keep pace with the incredible first quarter. Certainly not after Robert Griffin III popped his hamstring in the second quarter.

It was grim to see, but he gutted through it for a while. But the fact is, Bob Griffin can’t do Bob Griffin things from the sideline with a big ass bag of ice taped to his hammie.   And from that point on, the game just wasn’t the same. 

And it makes sense. Who can keep up that level of awesome for 60 minutes? It’s just not sustainable. Like I always say, if something seems too good to be true, it generally is, and there was no way they were going to give us 60 minutes of that perfection. So then it just devolved. From a beautiful game of muffed punts and pick sixes, into ugly rock fight. 

Pittsburgh ended up winning ugly 19-14, to remain unbeaten. And. Honestly, Baltimore put up a much better fight than anyone should’ve expected.

They hadn’t practiced in an eternity, they were missing a huge chunk of their roster, and they had their backup quarterback starting. And then he had to leave the game, so they were down to their third stringer. And, not only did they remain competitive, they damn near could have ripped that game late, had James Washington not ripped that reception from about half the ravens defense. 

There are no moral victories in the standings, but credit to the Ravens for how they showed up. They battled. But you know they were pissed afterwards. And they were pissed about a bunch of things.

They were pissed that hadn’t practiced in a while and that they only prep they had was a walkthrough on Monday and Tuesday. Griffin said he believes that had something to do with him pulling his hamstring.

"I pulled a hamstring today. I've never pulled a hamstring in my life. You see guys going down left and right."

He’s not wrong. Numerous Ravens players suffered various injuries yesterday. And Griffin was bent:

Safety Chuck Clark had similar thoughts: "I don't know what comes with me saying this, but, of course, on Monday and Tuesday, we're wondering, 'Why were we allowed back in the building if we say everything is based off contact tracing and things like that, and that's what's told to us?' We've got to look at some of those things."

I can see where they’re coming from. I can see why the players might be thinking the league didn’t have their best interests and safety on top of the priority list. Because while the Ravens were dealing with an epic outbreak, the league made it very clear, come hell or high water, or a Christmas tree lighting, they were playing that game, somehow, some way.  And they did. 

As for the Steelers, that win takes them to 11-0. They’re 2-0 against their rival. They’re having an incredible year. They may even be an incredible team: But if you think Mike Tomlin is happy, you better think again. If you think Mike Tomlin is happy, then you don’t know Mike Tomlin:  “I’m really disappointed in our performance tonight. We did enough to win, but that’s all. It was really jayvee, to be quite honest with you, and it was in all three phrases. We couldn’t run the ball effectively when we needed to, we dropped too many significant passes, very catchable, makeable passes. We didn’t make significant plays in the special team game. Our kickoff coverage unit wasn’t good enough. We turned the damn ball over, we gave up big plays in critical moments on defense. Can’t have it. They converted a long run on a possession down before the half. Unacceptable. They had a 70-yard touchdown pass late in the game. Unacceptable.”

That is some straight fire, but he was just getting started. There was more heat coming.

“It was just bad by all parties involved. Coaches first, players second. We make no excuses. We seek no comfort. We didn’t play well, coach well tonight.”

He was also asked what he attributed the team’s red zone struggles to, he had a simple answer: “Us sucking.”

As always, saying something sucks is not a take. But an NFL head coach answering a question with “us sucking” is one of the best takes ever. Almost as good as Denny Green losing his mind back in the day during his postgame presser: difference is, Tomlin won!!  And was still furious. That was his straightest and hottest fire ever: freaking ether for everyone! Players and coaches alike. After a win! To get them to 11 and 0

If Wednesday Day Football means that we get Mike Tomlin blast his team like that, after a win no less, then sign me up for a full season of it

So I guess the real winner of yesterday was Dolly Parton, Kelly Clarkson and NBC.

No matter how lame you think tree lightings are, it couldn’t have been any worse than that Wednesday afternoon junior varsity game.

Can you imagine how bent Meghan Trainor, Erth Wind and Fire and the Rockettes would’ve been if they got pushed to the afternoon for that slop?

I didn’t watch the Rockefeller tree lighting show, but I’m guessing unless the lights didn’t work, it was probably better TV viewing.