Well, that couldn’t have gone much better. Complete domination, reminiscent of the 2005 Steelers-Browns Christmas Eve game that included 41 points, a shutout, and a Deebo body slam. (Sorta arbitrary: I mentioned this on Twitter Sunday morning, but can you imagine the fine and suspension Harrison would face from Commissar Goodell if he did that now?)
Troy Polamalu also made his triumphant return, and even though he took a half-day, he had an immediate impact. Troy will now have two weeks off, which should also be good news for Maurkice Pouncey, who left Sunday’s game in the third quarter with a stinger.
Other game-day randomness:
– The offense, defense and special teams all looked in top form. Troy had an interception three plays into the day, and a snap later, Ben hit Mike Wallace on a 56-yard bomb and that was that.
(After a season and a half of Wallace running go routes past helpless defenders, I figured we’d seen the end of the “Ben, throw it as far as you can and Mike will catch it” play calls. And for the last seven or eight games, that proved true — it also allowed Wallace to develop other skills that now makes him one of the most dangerous wideouts in the league. Apparently, the Browns don’t watch game film because they treated Wallace like he was Mitch Berger and were promptly burned for 97 yards on two catches. That said, after watching the Browns mail it in, I’m not so sure Berger wouldn’t have had similar numbers.)
The offensive line kept Ben clean all day, and even though Rashard Mendenhall didn’t have a lot of room to run, he ran hard, handed out some licks, and even had a nice 24-yard catch and run (He also has 13 touchdowns, many of the “goal-to-go” variety, which is pleasantly surprising). So maybe now, finally, the o-line is coming together. Then again, the Browns could just be that bad. I’m going with the former since the TV bobbleheads can’t talk enough about momentum heading into the playoffs. (And I look forward to them arm-waving away the Ravens stumbling their way through a possibly important Week 17 home game against the Bengals.)
If nothing else, it was a nice bounce-back game for Jonathan Scott, who might have had the worst game in the history of tackle football last week.
– I was reading something I wrote back in September about the Steelers’ draft haul during the Kevin Colbert era and here’s what I said about Ziggy Hood: “The coaches love Ziggy, although the fans have yet to see much from the ’09 first-rounder. Of course, we were all bitching about the team getting younger on the defensive line, so the pick made sense.”
And it makes even more sense after watching him play for much of the year. Ziggy sacked Colt McCoy early and played well when I watched him. So, yeah, one less thing to worry about.
– Two words: ANTHONY MADISON. If he played against the Browns every week, we’d be comparing Troy Polamalu to him. Madison had an interception (although as my buddy pointed out at the time, he was fighting the ball the entire way) and a sack.
So the league saw fit to return $25,000 to Deebo because … well, I have no idea. Something about Ted Cottrell, former coach-turned-NFL-stooge deciding that Harrison deserved a refund. Meanwhile, Deebo’s hit on McCoy had everything to do with Madison’s subsequent pick, and I look forward to the league issuing a statement later this week explaining why the rescinding the $25,000 refund, presumably because Harrison had malice in his heart, or some such stupidity.
Back on Earth: another backup who showed up: Stevenson Sylvester. In addition to wreaking havoc on special teams, Sylvester blew up a screen pass and roughed up Seneca Wallace on a two-point conversion late in the game.
– Just in case you needed proof as to Ben’s importance to this offense: Byron Leftwich’s first snap promptly ended in a sack. And it wasn’t on the o-line, it was vintage Byron: plodding in the pocket, not able to find a receiver, followed by a crushing tackle. And while Ben is obviously important to this team’s success, I’m still convinced that Troy’s the most important player on the roster.
– Got a good chuckle out of the Randle El hookey-dookie touchdown pass to Hines Ward to make it 41-3. Partly because it was a way to get Randle El involved in the offense, but mostly because it was Tomlin basically saying, “Yeah, I’m running up the score but you know what? You’re getting canned tomorrow, Magini; it doesn’t matter.”
– I continue to be impressed by Po-Sweezy, who split the uprights on a 41-yarder.
Alright, peeps, Pittsburgh will have a week off, a home game and they’re playing solid football. At this point in the proceedings, that’s really all you can hope for.