Let’s get psyched up for the first real playoff game of the day with John Henderson; that NFC ish that we just sat through doesn’t help. Washington just gave up at the end there. Even better: Henderson intros the pre-game crew with a nice little “IT’S SHOWTIME, BAY-BEH!”

Faith Hill = The Hotness – Smitty Lite
Bring back Pink for the pre-game song. Faith Hill ain’t gettin’ it done. – sportsattitude

I actually believe that Pink would watch football, but Faith’s a better singer and less mannish. Conundrum.

While I have some time before the kickoff, I’d like to introduce you to a Jags’ supporter we all probably weren’t expecting, thanks to Deadspin and Walk Off Balk: apparently porn star Jenny Hendrix is a Jacksonville fan, and Jags coach Jack Del Rio is a fan of hers, admitting he’s seen her work in hotel rooms. Where does her profession come in? Well, I’m willing to bet that both Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew will be violating the Steelers in various manners.

Kickoff to Najeh Davenport, and he’s stuffed at the 21. Davenport is forced to return kickoffs due to Allen Rossum being out, and he’s already the starting RB with Willie Parker done with a broken leg. Big Ben tosses incomplete to Hines Ward (unfortunately, I have not come up with a quick combination of black and Korean to describe him — like “blackanese” for half-black, half-Japanese. They’re supposed to give all of us mixed-race folk manuals with catchy names for this shit.) Anyway, The Ben hurls it to Ward again two plays later for 31 and they’re in Jags territory.

Oops. John Henderson got a little too jacked up before the game, 15 yards for pulling a Roy Williams on The Ben. Henderson’s on the sideline, and The Ben keeps going to Ward and getting another first down. Davenport smacks up the middle for 11 more and we got first and goal. Toss to TE Matt Spaeth, who loses the ball as he comes down trying to stretch for the end zone — and he’s lucky he was called down right there. But, this is reviewable, and Del Rio’s gonna use it here because he has a turnover if his challenge succeeds.

First bump is Republica’s “Ready to Go” — does anyone know any bands from Pittsburgh that are big enough for NBC to use for bump music.

I have to admit — that Southwest commercial about “performance enhancers” is hilarious. The Bud Light “Dude” ones? Not so much. Jacksonville loses the challenge, and Henderson’s going to the locker room. Davenport gets plugged in the pile and comes up short, 3rd down. The Dumptruck is successful on the next rush, TOUCHDOWN, STEELERS. Kick is up and good, 7-0.

American Gladiators.
Thanks for ensuring that no one will watch your network yet again, NBC.

Maurice Jones-Drew is a fucking beast. 96 yard return on the kickoff, we might as well just chalk up a TD for the Jags right now — Fred Taylor punches it in for six, kick is good, and we got a 7-7 tie that quickly.

Wow, that shot of Tomlin was a definitive “dear in the headlights” look. – Steve

I recognize NORV! Face when I see it. That was some good NORV! Face from Tomlin.

The Ben rolls out and hits a receiver for a first after two rushes. Dumptruck for more up the middle. The Ben gets sandwiched on 3rd down, and we’ll see Daniel Sepulveda punt it away in a minute. Dennis Northcutt gets up-ended receiving the punt, and I’m wondering why MoJo Drew isn’t returning punts too — I know he did that at UCLA.

They’re working the rush early, with 3rd and short now after a Taylor rush and a penalty on the Steelers for offsides. MoJo gets the first down on the next play, and we’re gonna see a lot of that inside pounding tonight. Hell, Jenny Hendrix would be great at this — she knows a lot about line penetration, I’m sure.

“That’s how you blow up a gap.”- JM (via Sam)

I’m surprised there wasn’t a BOOM in there from John. Uh oh, now we get Heinz Field muck talk with the rain falling. MoJo pounds for 2. David Garrard gets his happy feet going on the next play for the first down after the play action falls apart. Garrard gets it over to TE Marcedes Lewis (more UCLA product from their last good team), who jukes a Steeler for a first down. The drive stalls from there, as Garrard’s third down pass is knocked down. Punt goes into the end zone, Steelers start at their own 20, but NBC is jumping the gun again on the bump music. Oh, now it’s Arrested Development for a bump? OK.

For a reminder of general MoJo Drew awesomeness, watch this pancaking of Shawne Merriman from earlier in the season:

I could watch that all day.

If you want me to watch the apprentice, kill a celebrity at the end of the show. That would be a public service – Chris Casey.

Now, that would be entertainment. The Ben tosses underneath to Heath Miller, who gets 14 yards and a first after the Ben rollout. Another pass incomplete. Another play, first quarter over. This game has already been ten times better than the first one.

“Some of those guys would have rather been water boarded this week” – Al, via Mal
“He could grow geraniums out of his helmet right now” – Al, via Steve

Really, let’s keep the torture references out of football. 3rd and 8 and The Ben is slammed down by Paul Spicer. Tomlin is now getting his Art Shell Face on as Sepulveda comes on to punt. Northcutt gets it up to the 39 yard line. Garrard gets sacked on first down. The Steelers defense has gotten frisky now, stuffing Taylor behind the line on 2nd and Way-The-Fuck-Out-There. Reggie Williams gets the pass out to the 40, but the punter’s coming on regardless. Cedric Wilson only gets a couple yards on the return — oops, illegal motion on Jax, and they’ll punt it again.

Al and John are rambling on about a team from Florida that basically rushes and plays D. If that’s really the way you need to win all the time in , then both the Pats and Colts are fucked, and we know that’s not quite true, even though defense and running are Very Good Things for the playoffs.

“If neither one wins all the time, they become Brian Billick.” – JM

Cedric Wilson fair catches at the 16 and we go to Depeche Mode.

Can anyone here imagine John Madden lecturing at a university? – Chris Casey

Yes, but he’d be very, very dependent on the overhead projector for his lectures. Mathis jacks up Ced Wilson on 2nd down for the incomplete. Grady Jackson has to be the biggest, fattest defensive lineman I’ve seen since the Packers’ Gilbert Brown. The MVB (Most Valuable Blasian) Hines Ward catches a deflection off Heath Miller’s finger for 20+ yards.

“The Immaculate….Deflection?” – Al, then followed by an Immaculate Reception highlight.

Rashein Mathis just picked The Ben, and he’s in the end zone, but there’s a flag — this fucker’s coming back, but it’ll still be Jags ball, I think. Oh wait — TOUCHDOWN, JAGS — ref rules that the low block was on the Steelers, and it’s a pick six. Kick is up and good, 14-7 Jags.

Now we get us some Bad Ben and more Tomlin with Shell Face. Touchback on the kickoff due to Pitt penalty on pick six.

Did Todd Collins just get in the game for Pitt? – Mal


Uh, oh. Tomlin’s got headset hair. – Steve

Someone get Coach Epps a fro pick!

Grady Jackson is as tall as I am (6’2″) and weighs more than 125 pounds more than I do. Yikes.

JM: “How, at 345 you slip through anything I don’t know” (via Mal)

The Ben is picked by Rashein Mathis AGAIN on a rollout! He is apparently still a caveman, even without the beard — incapable of learning from past mistakes.

“Tomlin is challenging, saying Mathis was out of bounds. If nothing else his hair was out of bounds.” – Al

Mathis is ruled down by contact, but his hair was apparently out of bounds and that counts as out. But he’s not really down by contact. Oof. They gotta make NFL officials full-timers. Seriously. Swing pass to MJD gets a couple, Jags get the first down later. Garrard out to MoJo again — AND HE JUKES A LINEBACKER, TAKING IT TO THE HOUSE. Kick up and good, 21-7, Jags.

Yinzer Nation, start worrying. Scobee to the Dumptruck, who’s stopped at the 21. The Ben is walloped again on 2nd and 13, and that’s the Jax defense we’ve been expecting. He gets slammed again for the fourth time tonight — Derek Landry sacks him this time. Jags get the ball back at their own 46 after the punt. Fred Taylor takes the handoff to the 50.

“Just look at [Garrard’s] legs. Look at him from the 9 on down. He is a powerful guy.” – John, as Al giggles like a schoolgirl. Ewwwww.

It’s going to be 28-7 pretty quick if the Steelers don’t get going. They could have Steely McBeam on the field as a 12th man and they couldn’t stop these guys. But Steely McBeam may explain the Cialis commercials – Chris Casey

+1. Jack Del Rio is trying to impress Jenny. Garrard tosses to Lewis at the 28, so FG team comes on. Scobee boots it wide right. Steelers get the ball back with some decent field position — as if it has mattered so far. Like John said earlier, can’t win the game if you don’t have an offensive plan. The Ben throws to Miller for a few necessary yards, and the two minute warning is upon us. Ben slides down after a few yards at the 44 of the Jags, he then hits Santonio Holmes for 16 yards. Replay booth upstairs is gonna look at it. They reverse it, and it’s 3rd and 4 for the Steelers — Ben checks it to the Dumptruck and he gets to the 27 after the catch. Pitt time-out.

The Ben, PICKED AGAIN — this time by Derek Landry, who grabs it while pass rushing #7. That’s No. 3, and we’re gonna go to half with a 21-7 score. See you in the 2nd half thread, as the boo birds rain down in Heinz.