Eagles-Steelers: Does Anyone Care?

Jim McNultyCorrespondent ISeptember 18, 2008

The Philadelphia Eagles and Pittsburgh Steelers meet Sunday in the Battle for Pennsylvania. 

Cue the collective yawn.

It's not that it shouldn't be a good game; both teams have had impressive performances.  The Steelers (2-0) come in riding Willie Parker but have questions about Ben Roethlisberger's shoulder. The Birds' offense has been explosive, but the defense and special teams got exposed badly in Dallas.

But Monday night's masterpiece has made this week's game almost anticlimactic.

Think about this for a second: The Eagles-Cowboys game was the highest-rated cable program in history. It was the second-highest scoring Monday Night Football game in that franchise's history. And the first half saw the most points scored in a half on MNF.

It was a classic battle between two of the biggest rivals in football.

It had T.O. It had DeSean's bonehead play. It had Super Bowl-caliber hype, and it actually did more than live up to it. It surpassed all expectations. Well, except for the whole Eagles losing thing.

And this weekend?

Well, unless you live in the central parts of the state, where large contingents of fans of both teams coexist—however tenuous it may be—this rivalry has never really done much for me. 

Granted, I'm writing from nowhere near Pennsylvania these days, so the vibe may be different back home. But with the two teams in different conferences, it's hard to build up the hatred you get for an NFC East team.

Philly-Pittsburgh is more of a hockey rivalry. Especially now. Flyers fans were already developing a healthy distaste for poster boy Sidney Crosby. Add to that the crushing playoff loss last season to the Penguins, and you have all the makings of a nasty little intrastate feud, bringing back glorious memories of old Patrick Division scraps.

But take an AFC team, even if it's one from inside the state, and it's hard for Eagles fans to get a good fervor going. 

At least until the tailgating starts.