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Pittsburgh sports talk with the Trib columnist

Wakeup Call: Pirates, meet fork

By Dejan Kovacevic | Trib Total Media

DENVER — Brief and to the Point …

>> My Monday column looks back at the Steelers’ offensive performance in the losing opener, which I thought was better — and more promising — than I’m guessing most did back home.

Very interested to hear your thoughts on the offense, and the game as a whole. I just really didn’t think it was all bad. Maybe that’s because I see it being even worse.

Here’s our full band of coverage from Denver, by the way, with Alan Robinson on lead guitar and Ralph Paulk on the drum kit. You’ll get much more from Mark Kaboly in the next 48 hours. (He’s on bass.)

>> It’s been tempting for a long time. Really has.

But every time I felt it was the time to stick a fork in the Pirates, there was always the standings to stop me. A game back. Game-and-a-half. The math just wouldn’t allow me to process that this was impossible, when all it would take is a good series or two to be in playoff position.

Well, forget it.

The standings still say it’s possible, but at some point or other the team’s performance has to substantiate it.

Where has it been?

Why would anyone find it realistic now, with 23 games left, that some sudden uptick is around the corner?

These six games weren’t optional.

Neither is the fork.

>> Next focus, of course, is 82, and even that looks daunting. They’ll have to go 10-13 the rest of the way, a markedly better pace than they’ve shown over the past two months.

>> Penn State is 0-2, but it’s beyond debate that the Nittany Lions are a better 0-2 than Pitt right now. Matt McGloin and Allen Robinson moved the ball, linebacker Michael Mauti was all over the field, and the offense and defense did more than their share in the loss at Virginia.

But when you have a guy miss five kicks — four field goals and an extra point — and lose by one, there can’t be much doubt where blame goes. Sam Ficken not only missed but usually missed badly.

Bill O’Brien showed crazy confidence by sending Ficken back out one final time for a 42-yarder, but that should be it. Tryouts this morning, please.

>> Wow, worst week ever?

Pirates get buried by the Cubs, Steelers lose opener, Penn State kicker misses four field goals, Pitt quarterback throws for a field goal …

What could the week to come bring?

>> I’ll lose my Monday to the travel back home, but I’ll have my usual guest spot Tuesday noon on TribLIVE Radio. And I’ll have something fun to announce on that day, too.

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