Collier: Steelers angst overflows with looming road trip to Cincinnati

Cup of angst overflows

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All right, Steelers at Cincinnati, so let's bring in the appropriate themes: Desperation, angst, urgency, ennui, acute chronic nastiness, cloying self-doubt, and I would readily include pathos and bathos if I knew the difference, although bathos might be those things you stick to the bottom of the tub so you don't slip and sustain any of the various injuries that could easily alter the outcome of Steelers at Cincinnati.

In addition to their weekly menu of systems-threatening and potentially victory-clogging injuries, the Steelers now have generated a combination of issues not previously presented en masse: Drunk driving, junk tweeting, and another looming road assignment, at which they've generally stunk.

That's right; drunk, junk and stunk is no way to go through a NFL season son, but suddenly a lot of teams are trying it. Maybe not in that precise combination, but take a gander around the AFC and the league as a whole, or hole, whichever you find more descriptive.

Fully 34 percent of the NFL is 3-3. Another 37.5 percent is not that good.

So if you think hard times have targeted 3400 Water Street on the South Side like some B movie spookfest UFO, take a good look at the faces of some of this league's other marquee franchises and see how easily it is to trace the tracks of their tears.

Oh, yes, I will go to the Smokey Robinson sub-package if need be.

The Philadelphia Eagles, one of the few, or more accurately one of the two teams the Steelers can verifiably beat, just fired their defensive coordinator after blowing a fourth-quarter lead against the Detroit Lions.

Juan Castillo was terminated after an experimental spell as Andy Reid's DC, a curious assignment at its origin because Castillo had been the offensive line coach. Now that they're 3-3 like just about everyone else, a year after being 8-8, the Eagles decided that as a defensive mind, Castillo was an OK offensive line coach.

The San Diego Chargers, ahead, 24-0, at halftime Monday night, lost, 35-24, to the Denver Mannings, putting the boldest flourish yet on an NFL fashion trend that is hotter than the pink accessories in the October uniforms -- a blown fourth-quarter lead. Surely you've noticed the Steelers have flashed this affectation four times in five games.

The Bengals just turned up as the one team the Cleveland Browns could beat after 11 consecutive unsuccessful searches. Bengals coach Marvin Lewis has guessed publicly that perhaps his fellas aren't mean enough.

You want mean? Look to the Browns, who fired general manager Mike Holmgren Tuesday, apparently out of fear that this winning thing could become a habit. That'll teach him.

Even the better NFL teams this fall are suffering from an array of misfortunes. The Baltimore Ravens, smacked with season-ending injuries to defensive standouts Ray Lewis and Lardarius Webb, have won four games in a row, but only once by more than three points.

The New York Giants, fresh from perhaps the most impressive performance of a still-young season, in which they pounded the San Francisco 49ers on the road, reportedly returned to their training facility only to find that several of their cars had been burglarized, and one stolen.

Imagine the tweets were Rashard Mendenhall on that team.

Do not mess with Rashard's ride while the Steelers are in Cincinnati would be my advice to you. Also be careful on Carson Street while Alameda Ta'amu is off work for the next two weeks, having been suspended for allegedly hitting three cars and nearly running over two police officers, allegedly, while allegedly driving drunk.

But the real fear drawing near this week likely is more related to the Steelers secondary, which has somehow allowed 11 touchdown passes in the past six games, dating to Jan. 8 at Denver, after allowing only 14 all last season.

This is an unfortunate turn of events in a week that brings Mike Tomlin's team to the intersection of Andy Dalton and Pick Six Boulevard. The Bengals quarterback already has thrown three interceptions that have been returned for touchdowns, but to take advantage of that, your defenders have to be able to catch the football.

If Steelers corner Keenan Lewis could catch the football, this Steelers team would be flying high at 3-2, right there among the NFL's, uh, Elite Eight. OK, actually nine teams have winning records.

All that said, we're all blissfully aware that when the Steelers really need a win, they know where to go to get one. They're 10-2 at Paul Brown Stadium. If they're not soon 11-2, you'll be ordering more angst.



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