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Welcome to SteezBros! SteezBros is a Steeler Blog run by three brothers who are all huge Steeler fans. If the true definition of fan is fanatic, we fit the bill. We were born into Steeler fandom. Love of the Steelers goes back many generations in our family. It's in our blood. You can read our "Welcome to SteezBros" post in the archive if you are interested in more information about us and the blog. Thanks for reading and check back often!


Monday, September 15, 2008

Steez - Browns recap

It wasn’t the prettiest or most entertaining game ever played, but make no mistake, the Steelers will take a 10-6 win in Cleveland. The win was the tenth straight for the Steelers over rival Cleveland, and gives them a 2 game advantage over the team many football analysts predicted would be the best in the AFC North. Considering the Steelers don’t play the Browns again until the final game of the season, this game was of the utmost importance to both teams.

The wind and rain caused by Hurricane Ike played a big role, so it is difficult to make broad assessments about the game. But, there were still important takeaways:


Forcing turnovers – The Steelers defense forced two turnovers, with Troy Polamalu’s interception at the end of the first half especially important. I’ll repeat this frequently throughout the year, but the number of big plays by our defense will determine the outcome of the Steelers’ season.

Defensive line play – Big Snack continues to be a beast. Offensive and defensive line play is often overlooked, but Big Snack’s ability to push the opposing offensive line into the backfield is noticeable even to novices.

Special teams coverage – Yes, Joshua Cribbs was coming off of a high ankle sprain. Yes, the field was wet. But, the special teams coverage still looked good. The lanes weren’t there and, for the most part, players finished plays. I still get worried before every kickoff and punt, but Keyaron Fox, Anthony Madison, Donovan Woods, along with several starters, are helping to calm my nerves.

Jeff Reed – Ok, I admit it. I’m a Jeff Reed-hater. After the last couple years, I shouldn’t be, but I still am. The various drunken pictures of him don’t help. But, hitting that 48 yarder in bad conditions, pure genius. Get that man a beer.

Bryant McFadden – He did a good job at starting cornerback, where he matched up with Braylon Edwards quite a few times. Maybe someday he’ll beat out Deshea for that starting spot. Oh wait, he’ll be a free agent next year.

O-line play – They were far from perfect in this game. They let up three sacks and Shaun Rogers made some plays. But after watching the game last night, they are better than I originally thought. They created holes for Parker, despite 8 man fronts. Kemo is a beast pulling from the left guard position. They gave Ben time to throw. A great example was the pass protection on the 32 yard pass to Hines Ward from our own end-zone. And in the last series when the Browns knew we were going to run the ball, the o-line created enough holes to get a first down and ice the game. If this unit continues to improve, the offense could be scary good.

Aggressive play calling – Two great examples:

#1. Going for it on 4th and 1. The team was on the Cleveland 40 with the game tied at 0. At this point in the game, it was obvious that points would be at a premium. Instead of playing the field position game, Tomlin made an aggressive call to go for it on 4th down. It showed confidence in the O-line that we could gain one yard on a running played. It showed confidence in the defense, in case we didn’t. But most importantly, Tomlin was trying to win the game, not trying to prevent a loss. The result, Parker gets a first down leading to the only touchdown of the game.

#2. Play action pass with 3:16 left in the 4th quarter. How many times have we seen the Steelers run it three straight times to run out the clock, inevitably leaving the opposing team with plenty of time to score? This time, Arians called a run on first down, but came back with play action on second down. Another call made to win the game, not prevent a loss. The play action was a great call in that situation. Cleveland probably expected run to force them to use timeouts. The Steelers needed a first down to close the deal. By calling the pass on second-down, as opposed to third-down, Cleveland was caught off guard. Big Ben had great pass protection, and found Heath Miller down the middle for the first down. This showed a killer instinct that last year’s team lacked.


No pressure – Derek Anderson had all day to throw. The defensive game plan was not one designed to get pressure, but rather to drop into coverage and let Anderson make some mistakes, which he did. But, there was no pressure all day, meaning our linebackers and defensive line did not win one-on-one battles. The defense didn’t let up a touchdown and held the Browns to six points, so they executed well, but let’s hope the pressure exhibited in week 1 against the Texans can be repeated in the future.

Return game – The Steelers returners had an especially tough night catching the ball. Mewelde Moore can be excused for avoiding punts, because I prefer letting the ball bounce to muffing a punt. But, Mendenhall and Davis can’t make the mistake of letting a kick off bounce around. It’s like they didn’t even know that ball was live. If Woodley doesn’t make a great play, I'd probably be writing about a heart-breaking loss.

Going out of bounds – When Willie Parker got the final first down of the game, he beat the Browns defenders outside to get past the sticks. Unfortunately, he forgot to turn it back up field and ran out of bounds instead. If Willie slides down in bounds, the Steelers take a knee three times. Game over. Instead, we were forced to run four additional plays and give the ball back to the Browns. Sure, this is nit-picky. The first down essentially won the game. But if Parker was a little bit more savvy, we aren’t exposed to the chance of a late fumble or miracle play. I hope Tomlin reminds him of that during the week.

Third and short, shotgun formation – This is a pet peeve of mine. I hate the shotgun formation on 3rd and short. In the first quarter on third and 2, we are in the shotgun. Result: sack. In the second quarter, third and one, we are in the shotgun. Result: draw play for no gain. Can’t Big Ben get under center and hand it off for a two yard gain?

Romeo Crennel’s game management –The end of the first half was bad. The decision to kick a field goal in the 4th quarter was worse. By kicking the field goal, Cleveland needed to get the ball back and drive the length of the field for a touchdown. Something it failed to do all game. If they go for it and don't convert on 4th down, they still have to get the ball back and score a touchdown. In either situation, it needs a TD . But by kicking a field goal, you take the risk of not ever getting the ball back. So if you need a touchdown either way, take the chance on 4th down, where a conversion will put you in great position to score.


How bad is Big Ben’s shoulder? He refused to answer questions about it with Andrea Kramer after the game. Is he having fun with the media or is it more serious than I thought?

This was an important game, not a time to provide experience. So I understand why there was no sight of Mendenhall in the Steelers backfield. Willie did a great job and Mendenhall is a fumbling risk. But, I hope Arians and the team will lighten the load on Willie. He had 25 carries in week one and 28 carries in week two. That’s a 424-carry pace. We need Willie fresh late in the season, so I’m hoping Mendenhall proves to the coaches he is ready for a bigger load in the near future.

Bruce Arians – please put a couple throws to running backs in the game plan. I beg you.

Random thought on the tip play between Troy and Kellen Winslow. After the tip, if Troy tackles Winslow, which is legal, then Winslow can’t make the play. Instead, it was a jump ball.


tucker said...

NO coverage?? Another clear example that NFL games are fixed. A field goal in that late game situation seemed the appropriate choice to me. Possibly I am biased because I had money on the game, but I saw no possible benefit in running the ball into a wall of defenders deep in enemy territory. A 47 yard field goal, easily attainable for Reed, would have given us the lead by 7 and used just as much time as that stupid fudge up the middle. However, I saw it coming. Tomlin looked at the clock and then the score board and was puzzled, as if he got some kind of command in his headset: "spread is 6...DON"T COVER". I knew it was over for me. RIDICULOUS. On a more positive note the steelers won HERE WE GO STEELERS!

josh said...


You are going with Elliot's fixaroo philosophy, but you are focusing on the wrong field goal. The Browns decision to kick the field goal with 3 minutes left accomplished nothing except covering the spread. I agree with the decision to forego a field goal by the Steelers. Too much risk, not enough reward.