STEELERS (1-0) 34
BROWNS (0-1) 7
Quick, what's worse: Britney Spears' MTV VMA "Comeback" performance, the demise of Michigan football, Notre Dame's offense, Dave Wannstedt's luck (after losing another player for the season), or the Cleveland Browns organization? Admit it, that's a tough call.
Well, around 4 PM or so, I'd be pretty hard-pressed to say anything was worse than the Cleveland Browns, having witnessed a 34-7 Steeler blowout. The Browns' performance today was beyond bad, it was beyond hapless, it was beyond hopeless. And I enjoyed every minute of it. Why? Because we've experienced 15 straight Major League Baseball campaigns where the Pirates are knocked out of contention shortly after the season's first pitch is thrown. It's the sports world getting back into balance. Besides, as a Steeler fan, I think it's written somewhere that a winning team is our birthright. I'll have to look that up.
Today was enjoyable from minute one to minute 60. 34 points. 206 yards rushing. 4 TD passes (and no interceptions). 5 turnovers created. 6 sacks. Gratuitous big hits. Boos directed at the opposing team by their own fans. Najeh Davenport running his Dump Truck self over five Browns and gaining a first down. A punt returner who doesn't fumble. Holding the criminal element to 35 yards rushing. A 100-yard rusher. A win for Mike Tomlin. Touchdowns from not one, but TWO tight ends. Dick LeBeau's 70th birthday. And on, and on, and on.
I really enjoy revisiting some of the "experts" and what they predicted for today. You're With Me, Leather had the Browns winning, 19-16. Chris Mortensen said that the Browns would win two of their first three divisional games, with a lineup of Pittsburgh (week 1), Cincy (week 2), and Baltimore (week 4). Yep, they really did their homework studying the 2007 Browns. And don't forget, the Browns' own Josh Cribbs predicted a victory just days ago. I will say that I had the chance to hear John Clayton in person at ESPN 1250's fantasy football convention a few weeks ago, and he said "the Browns really suck" about a dozen times during his lecture.
The Browns' ship sunk the minute they fell behind. This is not a team built for a comeback. Frankly, I don't know what the Browns are built for, but it's not winning. Once the Steelers grabbed the lead, any chance of the Browns running the ball went out the window. Luckily for us, they have a quarterback who was running for his life, and when he wasn't doing that, he was misfiring all over the field. Romeo Crennel then had the bright idea to throw the Steelers some fresh, unathletic meat (by the name of Derek Anderson) in the first half, a move that conjured up memories of Bill Cowher's quick hook on Jim Miller back in 1996.
If I were a Browns fan, I'd re-evaluate my life priorities. Then I'd look forward to baseball playoffs and the first tip of the NBA season. But I'd give up on this team. I have news for you: Brady Quinn's not going to help. Frankly, I don't even know if Tom Brady would help this motley crew. Seriously, who put together this roster? Outside of the Giants, I can't think of another team with less players I'd want to have. Frankly, the talent they offer is not worth the headache. This is a team that signed two players this offseason (Eric Steinbach and Lewis) who've been arrested- one of which spent time in jail. They drafted a player this year who was arrested for suspicion of rape in college. Heck, just the other day, Duquesne's own Leigh Bodden, a Browns DB, was arrested and charged with two misdemeanors. And that's just the guys I recall off the top of my head. When you mix in a dash of Braylon Edwards and a pinch of Kellen Winslow, two talented/high-maintenance players, that's not a recipe for a winning team. Disagree with me? Take it up with Cleveland's finishes since they've returned to the league.
OK, that's enough Cleveland-bashing. At this point, it's just piling on. Besides, there's a lot more to talk about...
--Rich Gannon didn't let me down. He was awful in the booth today. When Cleveland scored to "cut it" to 24-7 in the 3rd, he floated the idea that a comeback was a possibility.
On the Cedrick Wilson 37-yard reverse, Gannon referred to it as a "double reverse". Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong, but if Roethlisberger gives the ball to Parker, that's a handoff. And if Parker then hands the ball to Wilson, that's a reverse. If Wilson would've then given the ball to another player, that would make it a double reverse. Unfortunately, that didn't happen.
I particularly enjoyed a dead-end argument he was making with himself about the rain in the second half, and how it would affect the conclusion of the game. Dude, it's over. It was decided two quarters ago. Shouldn't you be throwing screen passes to Charlie Garner?
--Bill Hillgrove gave me this one about Charlie Frye during pregame: "The Browns are just asking Charlie Frye to be a game manager."
Translation: he's horrible, we know he won't make any plays to help us win, we just want him to not throw interceptions or fumble.
If you have a quarterback, let him be a quarterback. If you want a manager, hire Jim Tracy away from the Pirates. If you have Charlie Frye, your problems are many and they are great.
--Who's going to be the first person on Monday to say this: "If you throw out Willie Parker's 25-yard run, and you throw out his 22-yard run, he's only got 25 carries for 62 yards."
Nothing irks me more than comments like that. Yeah, let's just ignore all of the big plays a guy's made during the course of the game, just to make an argument stronger. What happened happened, and you can't "throw them out". Period.
UPDATE: We have a winner! ESPN Radio 1250's Ken Laird was the first to throw out the cliche of Steeler cliches. Great job.
--Daniel Sepulveda didn't have any punts blocked on Sunday. Just thought you'd like to hear that, in lieu of Chris Gardocki's absence this season.
--Anyone miss Willie Reid or Ricardo Montalban returning punts? Didn't think so.
--It was really weird watching Bill Cowher on CBS. That's going to take a while to get used to. He's only there to fill the network's Steeler quota, as mandated by the NFL. He joins Bettis (NBC), Bradshaw (Fox) and Hoge (ESPN).
Around the rest of the NFL:
--I was watching the Packers game, thinking about how Brett Favre always complains that the team never gets him any help, and then I thought about the 2005 draft. Clemens, I mean, Favre, gave all indications that he was on the way out. So they drafted QB Aaron Rodgers, to be groomed as Favre's eventual successor. Just one problem: Favre's still here. And who knows if he's ever going anywhere. His wishy-washy attitude basically cost the team a first-round contributor who would be in his 3rd year this season. Don't tell me that wouldn't help the Packers.
--Steven Jackson had 58 yards rushing. Larry Johnson had 43. Ladainian Tomlinson had 25. Maurice Jones-Drew had 32. Yes, fantasy owners who drafted these select running backs are preparing a mass suicide for Monday afternoon.
--I enjoy the people saying how the Falcons will take a step back due to losing Michael Vick. You know, a step back from the four Lombardi Trophies they've won with Vick. Wait, he never won any Super Bowls? The Falcons were 7-9 last year?
--Two walk-off field goals on Sunday afternoon (Denver and Washington). I own that phrase before you take it, ESPN.
--Prepare yourself for full-blown Randy Moss Mania on Monday. Don't say I didn't warn you. I don't know about you, but I love constantly hearing how great/smart/invincible the Patriots are.
--Monday night features a great AFC North matchup (Ravens-Bingles) as well as Kenny Wiz's Cardinals taking on everyone's sexy underdog, the 49ers. I'll be watching that game. But not for the football. I'm watching for Mike and Mike's play-by-play.