Steelers Find a Way to Beat Browns, Now Get a Week Off

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.

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  • JJ Cooper

    Good teams win the games they should win. This was the Steelers most emphatically taking care of business.

    • NohSpinZone

      First time all year I was almost bored watching the Steelers play.

  • David

    I don’t like Shannon Sharpe, but I got a big laugh at halftime when he said Mangini’s halftime speech to his team was, “Hey, you guys trying to get me fired?”

  • Randy Steele

    The only part of the game that bothered me, other than Leftwich’s surprising ineptitude, continues to be the our club-footed o-line.

    Even though the Browns had essentially given up eight minutes into the game, the Steelers still could not mount a continually effective running game. Several of Mendehall’s successful runs were due to solely to his inspiration and determination.

    • Anonymous

      They didn’t appear too bad in pass coverage at first watch. At least for the portion of the game I saw.

    • Anonymous

      I hope that that “other than” doesn’t come back to bite. Leftwich was terrible. Maybe he and Charlie Batch should exchange places.

  • Boogityboogityboo

    The Steelers would have won 60-0 with Jared Veldheer.

    • ryan

      Well played.

    • RoB D


      (no offense to ted..its just funny)

  • David

    BTW, nice EB-type title for the article, Ryan.

  • RoB D’s one thing that peed me off…

    The KO by Suisham that landed near the 20!

    I know he’s money. I hope he helps us win the SB. But I want a kicker who can drive that thing out of the end zone most times.

    Other than that, I’m pretty darn happy. A great regular season for the Steelers. One of their best in terms of overcoming adversity ..just terrific.

    A quick run around the dial to the NFLN, Football Night In America, CBS and FOX reveals very little love for the Steelers. It’s all about the Colts winning out to take their division and Dungy even said that the Colts would much rather play the Steelers in Pittsburgh than the Pats in Foxboro if they win their game next week. I don’t think the Colts should be happy playing us. They played NE very tight when Manning and Co. were sputtering along a little on offense. I think they can score with NE but I would be very surprised if our D couldnt shut down those receivers other than Reggie Wayne (whose experience in the pressure will help him a lot.)

    I am going to enjoy this playoff season. I think we’re hitting our stride at precisely the right time. BTW, I am still thinking about buying myself a jersey . Any help on best place online to get one> my local shops here in Ottawa kinda suck. Thanks

    • Anonymous

      I think they were intentionally kicking low and short so Cribbs wouldn’t have any running room or wouldn’t get the ball at all.

      • ryan

        Agreed. I think that, after 25 squib kicks, the Steelers tried a Jeffy Reed sky-ball special.

      • RoB D

        ahhh..very well then..

        I had the sound turned down because of visitors to my football domain who unfortunately were (a) ranking senior members of my extended family and thus immune from any attempts at errrr..shutting them the hell up during the game and (b) it was obviously a blowout from the beginning which kinda deadened any protests on my part so I probably missed the strategy of that KO.

        I like those two guys, Dan Fouts and Ian Eagle as they DO give you down and distance, seem to be on top of player substitutions and are very good at diagnosing what is and is not working. Can’t ask for more. But I know it’ll be back to dewy eyed Jim Nantz and Phil Simms for the playoffs especially if we make it to the AFCCG…

        I missed most of the latter part of the game as my affiliate switched to the Den/Oak game …frig ! I wanted to see Dwyer run..any mini recap for when the scrubs were in? Sylvester made some nice ST’s plays. This draft…was pretty damn good..

        Ok to bed..

  • EasyLikeSundayMorning

    Can we play Carolina and Cleveland in the playoffs? Please?

    • RoB D

      Or Seattle..gawd..would I love to crush that team..

      They’ve made me into a bad person with their whining..

  • EasyLikeSundayMorning

    So, assuming the Ravens beat the Chiefs and the Colts beat the Jets, we’ll host Indy and NE will host Baltimore. I’d rather have played the Chiefs if they’d beaten OAK, but this is still a pretty good pairing for us, with all of Indy’s injuries.

  • EasyLikeSundayMorning

    So, we’re the Saturday 4:30 game in r2. I think that’s an advantage, assuming we win. An extra day’s rest before the AFCCG…

    • Anonymous

      For sure. It’s not like there is a big difference between 13 days off and 14 days off.

      You lose 7% of the time off now and get an extra 14% time before the next game.

  • Cols714

    This was great. It was like a ray of sunshine for the offense. For once everything they did worked, Ben had time to throw and the receivers got open.

    For all the crap BA takes, it seems like after the Saints and the 1st half of the NE game, they put in a plan for the tight man coverage teams were playing on them.

  • drinkingclub

    Playoffs? Playoffs?! Playoffs!

    Am looking forward to these playoffs. Sure most talking heads have all ready awarded the Patriots the trophy, but we shall see.

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