By Michael K Reynolds
Even the five hopeless optimists left in Steelers Nation would have to agree: This Sunday’s game is the last gasp of playoff hopes for the Black and Gold.
And what could be more troubling for Steelers fans than the notion of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady with his finger on the snuff button?
Among the Steelers faithful, these are the same Patriots who rank as one of their most loathed opponents and the model-married Brady as one of the least favorite players.
And why is this?
Some will say it’s because his princely good looks don’t belong on a football field. Others will claim he’s arrogant. Then there are those who can’t see any of the Patriots and Coach Bill Belichick as anything but cheaters since Spygate.
Yet, in a moment of honesty, with microphones turned off, most Steelers fans will reluctantly admit to the main reason for this level of hostility. Brady is scary good and his Patriots have been one of the few teams able to consistently embarrass even the best of Pittsburgh’s defenses.
Sure there have been a few key Black and Gold victories in the recent Steelers and Patriots confrontations. But there have also been some mighty beat downs delivered by the Bostonians.
Tom Brady holds a 6-2 edge over the Steelers, having been 4-2 against Pittsburgh in the regular season and 2-0 in the post season.
Of course losing in the playoffs hurt the most but who could forget the infamous Anthony Smith game? This was the one in which the second year Steelers safety guaranteed a victory against the Patriots only to be personally and patently scorched on national television by Brady in a 34-13 whooping.
I always thought Smith got a bum rap because at least he had the courage to talk smack BEFORE the game. Brady always acted the choir boy saying he did his talking with his play. But that was only until his team had a commanding lead, and then he would rant and rave and point fingers. A great player, but one you hate to lose to because he was such a poor winner.
The good news for Pittsburgh coming into this game is that the Patriots aren’t as good as their record indicates and there are rumors abuzz that Brady’s “contusion of the birth certificate” is finally slowing down his Hall of Fame chops.
This is little consolation for a Pittsburgh Steelers team that has proven perfectly capable of losing to the worst teams in the league.
If the Patriots get an early lead like the Raiders did there won’t be any shutting down of the offense as was the case with Terrelle Pryor. Tom Brady will gladly put his cleats on the throat of the Steelers and put them out of their season-long misery.
But here remains one of the last hopeless optimists who believes the Steelers might be able to steal one this Sunday while Boston is still recovering from their World Series hangover. These are the kind of upset specials the Steelers win.
If the Steelers do manage a miracle will it be enough to ignite a flame, a wildfire sweeping them to the playoffs? Probably not.
But it will delay the heartbreak for at least another week. And it will keep Brady…of all people…from having the pleasure of dancing on our grave.