Okay, I’ll say it: I could not have been more wrong. I swore there was no way the Steelers were going to lose to the Browns. Couldn’t happen. Nossirree, Bob. Not with everything there was at stake. I might not believe in Harvey Dent, but I believe in Charlie Batch. Well, maybe I should have seen it coming. All the signs of the coming Football Apocalypse were there: I got violently ill the day after Thanksgiving, the washing machine broke, my mother-in-law started complaining more and more about how my dogs smell (they do, but we’re used to it). Things were going downhill fast, not looking up, as Sunday dawned. Yet, still, I sat down to watch the game with a high amount of confidence. Now, in its aftermath, I just don’t have much to say about it other than: I was really, really wrong.
In fairness, this was not a Charlie Batch failure as much as it was a total offensive breakdown. The defense did its part. The offense stunk it up worse than all my four dogs together. But, who could have predicted that not one, not two, not three, but four of the committee of running backs would turn the ball over? Charlie Batch accounted for three of the seven turnovers, it’s true, but by the time he began throwing the rock around, the running game had put him in a ditch, and he was trying to shovel his way out of it.
I saw the comments coming across Twitter as the game unfolded. Even my cousin got his licks in on Facebook. They were all unkind. But, let’s remember how happy we were to have Batch on the roster when he carried us to that 3-1 record during Big Ben’s suspension. Since then he’s had little playing time with the first string. I am not saying it was a sterling performance for Batch, but I think hanging the blame on one player is an easy way to process what many of us still cannot quite believe we witnessed. This was a team effort, just not the kind of team effort anyone ever wants to see. Ever. I’ll leave it to other bloggers to break down play-by-play. I’ll suffice to say that I have never heard what the odds of winning a game after committing seven turnovers are, but it is interesting to note that a paper published by Rhonda C. Magel and Geoffrey Childress of the Department of Statistics North Dakota State University entitled “Examining the Outcome Effects of the Turnover Margin in Professional Football” contained the following quote, “Coaches place a special importance on attempting to be the dominant team in the turnover statistic. The Defensive Coordinator for the 2006 National Football League Super Bowl Champion Pittsburgh Steelers, Dick LeBeau, noted, ‘When you look at this game in hindsight, the team that wins the turnover battle will probably win the game.’ ”
Do I have any words of encouragement for the upcoming rematch with the Ravens in Baltimore? Well, the washing machine is still broken, I’m told my dogs still smell, but I’m able to sit upright and hold down solids, so things may be looking up. In the meantime, Batch will get more work with the first string, Plaxico Burress will get another week of practice in under the Haley system, and I can all but guarantee that no running back in a Steeler uniform who hopes to wear it again next year will repeat their performance next week.
Any Browns fans who may read this: temper your enthusiasm with the knowledge that, even with seven turnovers, the Steelers lost the game by less than a touchdown and had a chance to drive and win it up to the end. That was a gift with a big brown bow on top, so I would caution that any enthusiasm should be severely curbed.