an you honestly say you're impressed? Apparently you're being entertained because you continue to watch, but is this the quality of football you have come to associate with the NFL?
The Detroit Lions gave us an effort yesterday that was borderline non-professional. When does a professional football team turn the ball over to its opponent with seven minutes remaining to be played and trailing only by eight points and never gets the ball back?
How do you explain the Carolina Panthers not having scored a point against the Atlanta Falcons in either of two games this season? Would you call the Panthers a professional football team?
The Steelers had a chance to put the Bengals away a week ago with an extra-point kick that would've increased the lead to nine points with less than two minutes to play, but the Steelers missed the kick, allowed the Bengals to cross midfield with the ensuing kickoff and ended the game by clinging to victory on a fourth-and-goal play from their five-yard line. The Steelers?
Meanwhile, our own Jaguars have been assailed for something less than an all-out effort on every given Sunday. We continue to ask, how could they be flat in Dallas with the division title race on the line? Maybe we should ask, is that the response we should expect of a professional football team?
We keep hearing about bigger, stronger, faster, better players, but what good is all of that if it doesn't translate into performances worthy of being regarded as "professional."
And we keep hearing about parity, but what good is 32 teams all tied for their division leads on the final Sunday of the season if our perspective is that all 32 are tied for last place in their divisions?
Something has to change. Parity has an excuse. I prefer to know that what I'm watching is worthy of its title of professional football.
Here's "10 things" the Jaguars have to do to beat the Steelers:
- Respect their athletes--Hines Ward, Antwaan Randle El and Kordell Stewart are three of the most talented athletes in the league. They must be contained.
- Bottle up Bettis--If he gets rolling, they'll give him the ball all day, and that's exactly what the Steelers want to do to protect a defense that's struggling.
- Keep their defense on the field--The Steelers are 31st in the league in third-down defense. When the Jaguars have the ball, they must keep the ball.
- Block Porter and Bell--Joey Porter and Kendrell Bell are the Steelers' play-makers on defense. They can change the game.
- Yell screen--The Steelers love to throw the screens to Amos Zereoue and Ward, especially with Stewart at quarterback. Count on it.
- Taylor, not Mack--The Steelers are ultra-aggressive on defense and, as a result, they have a tendency to overpursue. That failing allowed Fred Taylor to set an all-time Steelers opponents rushing record in 2000. Taylor's cutback style of running should be more effective against the Steelers than Stacey Mack's power style.
- Look at the logo--The Steelers insignia stands for the most physical brand of football the NFL has to offer. Getting up for the Steelers is easy. All you have to do is look at the right side of their helmet.
- Examine history--The Jaguars hold an 8-6 series edge on the Steelers. Why?
- Make them kick--Stewart is expected to start at quarterback, and he's had problems in the red zone, and the Steelers have had even more trouble with their kicking game than the Jaguars have.
- Look at the calendar--Sunday is Dec. 1. One month to go. If you can't do it now, when are you going to do it?