*Musings & Opinions*
1. John Buccigross of ESPN said it best over the weekend about how the Jovan Belcher tragic murder/suicide was being portrayed by some people. “Note to tv people: Kasandra M. Perkins didn’t “lose her life”. It was taken away in a brutal, bullying, cowardly way. Murder. That’s all,” Buccigross said. Kasandra Perkins indeed had her life taken away from a coward and now a three month old child is left without any parents. Anyone who tries to sympathize for Belcher on issues he might have had is just making excuses for him and we’re seeing some reporters try to analyze how this could happen by pointing to shots to the head and concussions Belcher might have suffered as a football player.
Jason Whitlock of Fox Sports pointed that out this weekend in a column, writing “maybe brain damage triggered his violent overreaction to a fight with his girlfriend”, but to me again that’s just excuses being made for Belcher. Maybe it did but maybe it didn’t. We will never know and If you want to buy that argument (that brain damage triggered the murder), the other argument is you could say that Belcher might have been a gang banger if he wasn’t in the NFL. The guy is a murderer and that’s how he should be remembered in my eyes.
2. Count me among those who loved the handshake incident between Mike Tomlin and John Harbaugh. This rivalry needs a little nastiness to come back and I guess Mike Tomlin didn’t want to join Ryan Clark and Ed Reed for their poker game in the Ravens locker room afterwards. Why Tomlin made a point to not acknowledge Harbaugh is unknown. What is known is that Tomlin had lost three straight to the Ravens, Harbaugh in the previous meeting said the “tougher team” won and the Steelers remember Harbaugh acting like the Ravens won the Super Bowl at Heinz Field when they stunned the Steelers at home last November (2011) in a last second win. That bugged the Steelers staff.
3. The emotion from Charlie Batch on the sideline immediately after Sunday’s 23-20 win is what makes sports so great. If it ends up being the final start for Batch in his career, it will go down as the signature win of Batch’s career and last night’s win could not have happened to a better guy. Pittsburgh putting up 23 points with Batch at the helm on the road in Baltimore is impressive. In Ben Roethlisberger’s four career road starts in Baltimore, the Steelers offense has never put up more than 13 points: 2006 27-0 loss | 2008: 13-9 win | 2010: 13-10 win | 2011: 35-7 loss
4. What we’ve seen from two matchups between the Ravens and Steelers with Pittsburgh starting Byron Leftwich and Charlie Batch is that Pittsburgh is the better team. That’s really been evident and the Ravens are arguably the fifth best team in the AFC. However, the Ravens unlike the Steelers have beat teams they should and despite a tough schedule the rest of the way, remain in good position to win the division and host a playoff game. Baltimore is 4-1 in the division, 8-2 in the conference (can’t finish worst than 8-4, Steelers at best can finish 7-5) and also have an edge over the Steelers in common games as they have a leg up in a potential tiebreakers with the Steelers for the division. Pretty much Pittsburgh needs to win out and have the Ravens lose three of four. If Pittsburgh ends up earning a wildcard berth, the best case scenario though would be going to Baltimore and avoiding New England or Denver.
5. I’m surprised there’s not been a lot of chatter about Bruce Arians being a strong contender for coach of the year. The Colts are 7-2 under Arians who took over as interim coach for Chuck Pagano, diagnosed with leukemia on Sept 26. The Colts are putting together a magical season and only three coaches in NFL history have taken over a team in-season and won more games than Arians. According to the Associate Press, San Diego’s Don Coryell won eight games in 1978, while Hamp Pool and Wally Lemm won nine games.
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