Big Lead Sports Bar


In the End, Cleveland Still Sucks

STEELERS (7-2) 31

BROWNS (5-4) 28

Life as a Clevelander has to be a difficult task. The weather isn't so great. The face of your city looks like this:

And your sports teams continue to find new and innovative ways to break your heart. If it's not out-and-out, Pittsburgh Pirate-esque levels of ineptitude, it's the crushing sense of false hope.

Lebron James was the chosen one...we were all witnesses...and then the Cavs were swept out of the NBA Finals quicker than you can say, "Larry Hughes is a steal at $38 million !"

The Indians then teased their long-suffering fans by building a 3-1 lead in this year's ALCS on Boston, then watching helplessly as Manny Ramirez sent another home run into the night. If that weren't bad enough, said savior of the basketball franchise, the same person who grew up in Cleveland, shows up at the first-round playoff games in a freaking Yankee hat. I think we've covered the topic of "icon loyalty to other sports" quite nicely on this site.

The third virtual nut-kick to many Clevelanders came on Saturday, when their #1-ranked Buckeyes were upended by traditional power Illinois and mastermind coach Ron Zook (and yes, I'm aware that OSU is in Columbus, but let's not be coy and pretend like there aren't tons of Buckeye fans in Cleveland). At least their game-ending skirmish showed that they were classy in defeat to a perennial doormat. Somewhere, Maurice Clarett is embarrassed to be associated with the school after that performance.

After the Cavs, the Indians, and the Buckeyes, we find ourselves at the doorstep of the Cleveland Browns. Traditionally, they've been a combination of the LA Clippers, Atlanta Hawks, Kansas City Royals, and Tampa Bay Devil Rays...only less successful. They are Earnest Byner and Dennis Northcutt. They are Tim Couch and Courtney Brown. They are Chris Palmer, Butch Davis, and Art Modell. They are the fan that gets slammed by James Harrison. They are a blown 17-point lead in the 2002 playoffs. They have no logo and no identity. They are the nail to Pittsburgh's hammer. They are the Cleveland Browns.

Sure, the Browns were blown out of their own building in week one. But this Sunday was supposed to be different. They were starting a new quarterback, one that wasn't traded immediately after week one, one that doesn't pose for embarrassing photos with Bret Michaels. They were 5-3, riding high at 2nd place in the AFC North. They came in thinking that they could win the game. And for an entire half, it looked like they might be right. Then, reality set in, Derek Anderson realized he was Derek Anderson, and the Browns remembered that they aren't supposed to win games like this.

Sunday's first half was as bad as Monday's was good. The defense forgot that if they stopped Cleveland on third down, they would get the ball back. The special teams attempted to make Josh Cribbs look like the AFC version of Devin Hester. And the offense sputtered in the red zone at a Buffalo Bill-like level. We were being decisively beaten in our own building, and by the Browns, no less. It was every Yinzer's worst nightmare.

But then the second half came, and as Phil Simms would say, the Browns were "Tossed aside like a small child". And yes, he really did use the line "tossed aside like a small child" today. That might explain a lot about Chris Simms' upbringing, famously speculated on by Steve Young. But I digress.

The Steelers were a different team for the last half-hour of Sunday's contest. Their quarterback, once as low as 17 in the BCS quarterback rankings, showed that he may be even better than I portrayed him in Friday's controversial post. Even more impressive than his passing was his new found rushing prowess, running for a career-high 49 yards and a game-saving TD. He was Michael Vick minus the dogfighting, fake names, and losing. He was winning the game through the air and on the ground. Why he is not mentioned in the MVP race may be my next cause to take up.

The Steelers defense woke up in the second half and re-established themselves as the bully, rattling Anderson and limiting the running back version of Steve McNair (slow, overpaid, and past his prime) to 35 yards on 16 carries. For those who wish to debate that description, Jamal has 36 carries for 72 yards in the last two weeks. That's two yards a carry, for any Clevelanders reading this post.

In the end, the good guys pulled it out once again, running their record to 7-2 and giving themselves a two-game buffer from the rest of the division. With an upcoming schedule of the New York Jets (1-8), Miami (0-9), and Cincinnati (3-6), the Steelers are at least poised to be in a fairly good spot once the New England game rolls around.

As for Cleveland, all is not lost. You're still in second place, you're still better than Cincinnati and Baltimore, and since you decided to make a Belichickian-style signing, you have Ricardo Colclough on your roster. Unfortunately, you're still not the Steelers.

Game notes:
--Taking a hint from their state brethren a day earlier, the Browns thought it was a good idea to try and mix it up with the Steelers after the clock's final tick. You know, the always-classy defensive call of "blitz on a kneel-down". I feared for someone's life after seeing the look in James Harrison's eyes. That is not a guy to mess with. "Taunting death by linebacker": yet another bad idea by a Cleveland Brown.

--Pomps hit on this in the post-game show, and I have to agree: the offensive line scares me at times, but it's hard to knock them when the team is 7-2. That being said, I think Roethlisberger's escapability makes them look better than they are.

--Please, please, PLEASE...someone take the challenge flags away from Mike Tomlin. Cut him off. You know I love you, coach, but you're simply awful at picking plays to challenge.

--Speaking of challenges, how about Romeo Crennel's? That was probably the best run Cleveland had all day. Despite his size, I'm pretty sure he's faster than Jamal Lewis.

--I think Anthony Smith is ready to step into the role of "Steeler Capable of Really Annoying Me at Times".

--Nice effort by #86 today. Awful holding penalty, though. He redeemed himself when he gave that football to the little girl.

--After all that hoopla, guess how many yards of offense Cleveland finished with on Sunday? 163.

--Braylon Edwards does a lot of talking for a guy with one catch on the afternoon. He looks like a future Baltimore Raven to me.

--This Week in Willie Parker History: 105 yards rushing, and a long of 31. 0-1 in the passing department, though. If you want to be the next Ladainian Tomlinson (and you're pretty close), you have to work on your passing efficiency.

--The play of Heath Miller this year is making me downright giddy. Whenever people knock the quality/depth of the Steelers' receivers, don't forget the contributions that Miller has made this season.

--I didn't realize that the only kick Skippy's missed this season was that 65-yarder at Denver, adding to his already-legendary status.

--And to close, from the "I'm Not the Only One Ticked Off" Category:

"All I ever hear is about [Tom] Brady and Peyton [Manning], but this guy we have here is very special," defensive end Brett Keisel said. "He makes plays those guys don't make and that's what makes him so special. He can get out of the pocket, he can create, he's a beast and we're glad he wears black and gold."


HotDog_Zanzabar said...

Am I the only one that saw Jeff Reed get destroyed on that kick return TD by Cribbs?

Good write up

Chris said...

You have got to love the way the Steelers came out in that second half. New half, new mind-set.

Big Ben for MVP? Holla' at your boy!

AJ said...

wow... even the Cleveland spam bots are clueless.

Don't look now, but judging by Peter King's column this morning, Big Ben may be higher than #17 in next year's pre-season QB ratings.

HotDog_Zanzabar said...

Is it any coincodence that the Wicked With is from Cleveland as well?

Jonny Van Mundegaarde said...

I had no idea computer's could be programmed to speak ebonics. What a friggin' country.

Paul Rupp said...

For all you Jeff Reed fans out there (and who isn't):

Skippy's 14 for 15 (93%) is considerably better than Adam 'sure-thing' Vinatieri's 16 for 20 (80%)

Dirty Sanchez said...

If Ben keeps this up, he's going to get ranked ahead of Pennington, McNair and Delhomme in King's QB rankings next year. Maybe.

That's ok. Palmer and his WRs can put up the pretty fantasy football stats, I'll take the wins.

Louis Lipps is my homeboy said...

You mean Palmer of the NO touchdowns against the Ravens defense yesterday?

21 points off of 7 field goals! haha... The Bungles won, but Palmer couldn't get the ball past the goal line against the Ravens!

Hmmmmm.... I seem to recall a large man from Pittsburgh chucking the ball to receivers in the end zone seemingly at will just a few nights ago.

Adam said...

I'd like to send a big screw you out to tOSU for screwing us out of a New Year's Day Bowl. My God. Well, see ya in the Alamo Bowl I suppose

Anonymous said...

Anyone know where I can get some Cavs tickets?