Raiders-Steelers Preview: Head Games

Jeffrey BoswellAnalyst IDecember 4, 2009

KANSAS CITY, MO - NOVEMBER 22:  Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers watches a replay during NFL action against the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium on November 22, 2009 in Kansas City, Missouri.  The Chiefs defeated the Steelers 27-24.  (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

Note: The quotes in this article are fictional.

Although it's too soon to panic, "worry" is not too harsh of a word to describe the Steelers' predicament. After a tough 20-17 overtime loss to the Ravens, Pittsburgh is 6-5 and struggling to hang on for what promises to be a wild-card race decided by a number of tiebreakers. An unhappy Mike Tomlin promised the Steelers "would not go gently" and would "unleash hell" in the month of December.

"We're by no means down for the count," says Hines Ward, "and unlike Ben Roethlisberger, we plan to answer the bell. I don't mean to question Roethlisberger's commitment, but maybe a new nickname is in order, such as 'Gentle Ben' or 'Ben Her.' Ask anyone. I've played with a concussion on numerous occasions, and I think my show of toughness is good for my teammates to see. Heck, you know me. I'm always being accused of 'leading with my head.'"

"Hines is entitled to his opinion," says Roethsliberger. "But what does he think? I didn't have a concussion? Would that be called the 'Immaculate Concussion?' Hines is a tough guy, and we're all very proud. Sure he's played with a concussion. Now I realize I've played with a 'jackass.'"

The Raiders will be playing the underdog, but with 10 days to prepare, Oakland should be well-rested for a Steelers team drained from both a tough game and dissent from within.

"In-fighting amongst the Steelers is music to my ears," says Tom Cable. "And the song that comes most to mind is Foreigner's 'Head Games,' not to mention 'Double Vision,' and 'Feels Like the First Time,' an ode to Dennis Dixon. In addition, Troy Polamalu won't be playing. Troy's exactly what the Steelers need to emerge from their funk.

Not necessarily his defensive skills, but his even-tempered, soft-spoken mannerisms are perfect for creating unity. Besides, if you ask him about the Roethlisberger situation, he'll just comment on his hair, or accuse you of doing so. But Troy's gone Hollywood; he's in more commercials than games."

Here's a Foreigner song the Steelers should really take a listen to: "Urgent." With a heavy heart and a light head, Roethlisberger plays, and plays well, finding Ward for two scores, and knocking Ward to the ground with a celebratory head butt after the first score.

Pittsburgh wins, 24-6.