Pittsburgh Steelers Playoff Hopes Rest on "Criminal Element"

Bill HintonCorrespondent IJanuary 3, 2010

Back in the 1970s the Raiders and Steelers rivalry was about as intense as it can get. There were cheapshots, trashtalk and lawsuits aplenty. The Raiders in general and George Atkinson specifically were labeled the "Criminal Element " by Steelers coach Chuck Noll. 

Now more than 30 years later the Steelers playoff hopes may rest on a Raiders victory against the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday. In part because of their own inability to beat the Raiders themselves.

I wonder if Lynn Swann will be cheering for the Raiders on Sunday. I saw a video on youtube (type in Oakland Raiders feud) where he once said he felt his life was in danger when playing the Raiders! George Atkinson's humorous response was that Lynn Swann was SOFT! That was a different era and I wonder if players like Atkinson, Tatum, Blount, or Lambert could even play in the league today.

As a Raiders fan I've never liked the Steelers but I've always respected them. They have a good owner, passionate but not completely annoying fans and have always played a hard-nosed physical style of football. The kind of football I love.

That's why I hope we can help them out this Sunday. That and my disdain for the Colts and Patriots.

When the Colts let the Jets win Sunday they hurt the Steelers. When New England lays down for Houston that will hurt the Steelers. If the Steelers miss the playoffs that means the AFC will more than likely be represented by the Colts, Chargers, or Pats; three teams capable of losing to Pittsburgh with a healthy Polamalu. Does anyone really want to see that?

So I hope even Lynn Swann joins Raider Nation this Sunday, with all the other Steel Curtain faithful and helps cheer us on to victory. Then after the game I'll be looking for a few Steeler fans at my local sports bar to pick up my extensive bar tab. I will thank them and wish them well... until the next time we play them in a meaningful game and then I'll hate them again. SOFT!


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