Steelers, Big Ben Find a Way to Beat Browns and Colt McCoy

You know why the Browns are the Browns? Because with eight minutes to go in the game and trailing 14-3, they forced the Steelers to re-punt twice after penalties, and on the third try, Cleveland returner Chansi Stuckey fumbled and Pittsburgh recovered. Four plays later, Mendenhall scored and that was that.

The Steelers would go on to win 28-10, and despite covering the 13.5-point spread, we can’t praise Colt McCoy’s performance enough. Yes, he threw two picks, and yes he was sacked four times, but we all figured he would crap his pants at some point during the first quarter, and would leave the field on a stretcher by halftime. Instead, he more than held his own, looked as poised as a rookie with no real offensive weapons can look, and completed numerous passes into tight coverage. So hats off to that guy. No idea what that means for the Browns quarterback situation but, frankly, that’s not my concern.

I do know that the Steelers, for the first time all season, finally have their franchise quarterback on the field, and he played about like we expected. Ben Roethlisberger looked a little nervous early, and missed on a few passes — including the first quarter red-zone interception — but all in all, he did what he’s always done: prolong plays, shed would-be tacklers, and do things that nobody else in the league can do. It was a refreshing change from the run-run-run-punt offensive game plan we had become accustomed to during the first month of the season.

Roethlisberger wasn’t perfect, but that’s the nice thing about returning from a long layoff and facing the Browns, a team starting a third-string rookie QB, and playing more than 30 minutes without their best player, Josh Cribbs. But like I’ve been saying since training camp, this time around Ben wouldn’t go through the typical readjustment period we have seen in the past since he’s not coming back from injury. And with games at the Dolphins, Saints and Bengals next up on the schedule that’s great news.

As for the rest of the team, well, they did what they’ve done through four games: the defense was stout, special teams was a pleasant surprise, and the offensive line and the running game were efficient. That said, I’m sure we’ll be hearing more cliches about how McCoy grew up before our eyes Sunday than the sacks, the interceptions or Big Ben’s three touchdowns. And you know what? With all the shit we (I) talked in the days leading up to this game, I’m fine with that. The dude played well.

As for who played well for the Steelers, a quick list:

* Big Ben. He threw a “WTF?!” red-zone pick early, and he missed high and wide on a few other looks, but otherwise, he was the same old Ben. Nearly impossible to bring down and always a big-play threat, Roethlisberger ended the day with three touchdowns, including one to some guy named Heath Miller, who apparently is a very good tight end.

* Rashard Mendenhall. He’s now a legit home-run threat who seldom takes a negative play. Mendenhall is the perfect complement for Big Ben easing himself back into the offense. I really can’t say enough about how well he’s played.

* Isaac Redman. I love this guy. Third down and you need a couple yards? Give it to Redman. Need somebody to run the ball with Mendenhall on the bench? Give it to Redman. Need a back to pick up a blitzing linebacker. Yep, Redman’s your guy.

* Hines Ward. We talk about how Hines looks like he’s lost a step, or can no longer get open, but I’ve been convinced for a while now that he’s basically a tight end at this point in his career. Whatever, his touchdown reception was one percent Ben getting him the ball and 99 percent Ward shedding tacklers on his way to the end zone. I don’t care if he runs a 6.0 40, he’s still Hines Freaking Ward.

* Juan Timmons. I mentioned him in the podcast as a player to watch but that was mostly because I always watch Timmons. He’s having a breakout year and Sunday was more of the same. Juan had an interception late in the fourth quarter and — just like every other game this season — he was always around the ball.

* O-line. I’m looking forward to JJ’s breakdown, but upon first viewing, this unit continues to play well (enough). In addition to the usual suspects — Max, Kemoeatu, Pouncey, Legursky and Flozell — we also saw appearances by Jonathan Scott and Ramon Foster (not to mention Legursky at fullback for Rashard’s TD run). Oh, and while Ben took some hits (because he always takes some hits), he wasn’t sacked once.

* Manny Sanders. JJ was lobbying for him to see time and Sanders had two big catches. Another potential weapon for Big Ben going forward. I’m one of the people who didn’t understand the “Let’s trade Santonio for a bag of beans!” trade, but I’m happy to move on. Sanders and Brown help.

* Bonus: the Ravens lost in overtime to the Pats which, if nothing else, will spare us a week of “BALMER IZ THE BESTEST TEAM IN THE NFL” nonsense.

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  • David

    Well, I think our D played OK today. Just OK.

    • Juantimmons

      agreed…which is troublesome considering who we play next. BUT remember this-they gashed the ravens and won against the bengals so that means something. Basically our D played it safe as well- a lot of base formations. The same with our offense-not really opening it up much. Remember, as good as wallace is, he’s still learning routes and is a straight line type of guy. So for us to get 3 Tds is pretty imperssive. Bens early int was nothing big, it was a reading coverage mistake not a mechanics deal.

      Overall, I think the defense gave up big pass yards in total, not at once. And i think thats ok. they wanetd the team to run down the clock trying to get yards and thats exactly what happened. The Browns had it for a significant period of time in the second half and all they got was a TD. good enough in my dept. Just remember, without the big int and the fumble we’d only really have 14 points at best. In my playbook thats ok. we’d have still won.

      • Anonymous

        I disagree. I think the defense played very well. Perhaps not as crazy lights-out well as the prior four games, but still completely top-notch. Consider, until that fourth quarter TD, the defense hadn’t really allowed any points. I say that because the field goal was given up on a drive that began in field goal range.

        And if you look at the Browns TD drive, I think you’ll notice Woodley being held on just about every pass rush. And I don’t mean the usual there’s-a-hold-every-play type of hold. I mean he was getting practically horse collared every time he blew by the tackle.

        The only thing that really concerns me defensively is that it seems like (and I didn’t go back to look at prior stats to back this up) once a game, the defense will give up a string of plays against a fast-paced offensive drive.

  • Richard Whitman

    So talking point for the Podcast:

    Cody fucking Grimm for NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year.

    • Gretz

      Seriously, another pick today. I think we underestimated Cody Grimm.

      • Richard Whitman

        And a forced fumble, it seen everybody you trash does do quite well, you might wanna think about dialing that back a bit. Just sayin’

        • ryan

          Cody Grimm looked dreadful against the Steelers. I’m glad he’s played well since because his dad is Russ Grimm. Either way, pretty sure what we say about players has no effect on their performance.

          • Richard Whitman

            Don’t get me wrong I love the trashtalking, and I urge you to keep it up :) I just tought it was funny that the two did so well. Anyway the Browns might really be on to something with McCoy, and right now the AFC north seem like a pretty tough divison.

          • ryan

            No, that’s right. Grimm has played well and to hear us talk about McCoy earlier in the week you have expected him to not be able to take the snap from center. The guy was, all things considered, pretty damn good. So, yeah, maybe you’re right about our prognosticatory abilities (and we’ll definitely be talking about it on the podcast).

            With that in mind let me leave you with this: Brandon Marshall, Chad Henne and Davone Bess are three of the best players in the league.

          • Richard Whitman

            I give you Marshall and Bess, and seeing as our secondary is really not the best part of our D (still pretty good ) that could get a little ugly, but I’am really not sold on Henne.. I watched him play a little bit this season and I just don’t like what I’am seeing, it might be BS ( and probably is) but I somehow think that, right now, Pennington would be the better option for the Phins.

  • EasyLikeSundayMorning

    In addition to Redman’s blocks, Mendenhall looked really good on several pass blocks. Mwelde looked pretty weak on at least one. I hope Mwelde picks it up, as we don’t have tons of RB depth.

    As for Colt McCoy, he’s already much better than Brady Quinn. I know, faint praise. But he looks like he could be decent. Like the rest of the Browns, he doesn’t scare me but it’s an upgrade from total suckitude.

  • EasyLikeSundayMorning

    One of the announcers said 5 of Robo’s punts have been fumbled this year due to odd backspin.

  • drinkingclub

    On Roethlisberger’s pick, I think if Dixon, Batch, or Leftwich had been in the game that would have been a running play, and would have led to points. Of course, this Reed could always miss a FG attempt. I think it was only because Roethlisberger was in there that Arians decided to throw the ball. I found that kind of odd.

  • drinkingclub

    On Roethlisberger’s pick, I think if Dixon, Batch, or Leftwich had been in the game that would have been a running play, and would have led to points. Of course, this Reed could always miss a FG attempt. I think it was only because Roethlisberger was in there that Arians decided to throw the ball. I found that kind of odd.

  • Randy Steele

    Because the Steelers won, I, too, can be magnanimous about Colt McCoy. He didn’t look lost in the huddle. He throws a decent pass. And he seems to have a nice family–or so it looked on TV.

    But if he’s the QB the next time the Browns play the Steelers, here’s hoping that he gets Massaquoi-ed by James Harrison.

    • David

      Randy, let’s put it this way. If he doesn’t make it as a QB, he’s got that blondie girlfriend to spend more time with. So, yes, I noticed his family as well.