Big Lead Sports Bar

9/15/2008

HAMMER 10, NAIL 6

STEELERS (2-0) 10

BROWNS (0-2) 6

ROETHLISBERGER: 12-19, 186 YARDS, 1 TD
PARKER: 28-105
HOLMES: 5-94

It wasn't the prettiest game to watch, and it wasn't nearly as dominating of a performance as last week, but in the end, the Browns are still the Browns.
That's about all you can say to sum up the Steelers' 10-6 win last night in a Cleveland windstorm on NBC's Sunday Night Football, the 10th Steeler victory over the Browns in a row. The Browns committed numerous miscues, including two Derek Anderson interceptions, two Braylon Edwards drops, and 10 penalties, not to mention poor clock management and some questionable decisions from Coach Romeo Crennel.
Cleveland's impotent offense featured the following drives in the first half:
1. 3 plays, 2 yards, punt
2. 3 plays, 3 yards, punt
3. 3 plays, 4 yards, punt
4. 5 plays, 7 yards, punt
5. 1 play, 0 yards, INT
6. 14 plays, 71 yards, INT
That's right...the Brownies had the ball with 6:26 to go and two timeouts and managed to come away with zero points. I've seen better game-planning out of Dave Wannstedt.
True, conditions were pretty awful, and both teams were playing on the same surface. The Steelers, although not as terrible as the Browns in the first half, weren't that much better. But they did come up with a 12-play, 70-yard drive that ended in a Ben Roethlisberger-to-Hines Ward touchdown that silenced the crowd (consisting mostly of grown men wearing dog outfits) for a short time. I'm sure they enjoyed the dog-kicking-dirt TD celebration in their faces. I know I did.
On the Browns side of the ball, I was not very impressed by Derek Anderson, who proved that he's among the best in the league at not finishing a drive. In the backfield, it was vintage Jamal Lewis, and by vintage I mean 19 carries for 38 yards while showing the breakaway speed of Casey Hampton. Big-mouthed Braylon Edwards caught three balls while dropping two, but at least he had his BFF Michael Phelps rooting him on from the luxury boxes. The Cleveland line allowed two sacks, but more importantly featured quite the colorful collection of characters, among them Pittsburgh's own Hank Fraley, former "boating while intoxicated" Bengal Eric Steinbach, almost-Steeler Rex Hadnot, and young Pro Bowler Joe Thomas, whose aunt looks like this:

On the Steeler O side, Willie Parker, who comes in as possibly the second-most underrated player in the NFL behind Mr. Roethlisberger, had yet another 100-yard performance and a rare national TV interview after the game. Santonio Holmes showed some amazing hands with his five catch, 94 yard performance, including a huge 48-yard bomb from Big Ben. Ward added five catches for 59 yards, among them a 31-yarder while pinned deep in their own territory. And Heath Miller had what might've been the biggest catch of all, a 19-yarder from Roethlisberger in the 4th quarter that unofficially ended the game.
Roethlisberger clearly wasn't himself, and he may or may not have/had been suffering from a separated shoulder, but yet again he got the job done and made the plays he had to make. He remains undefeated in the state of Ohio since joining the Steelers.
The Steeler defense bent but did not break, and I wasn't crazy about some of their 3rd-down plays, but all in all it was a pretty solid performance. Ryan Clark and Ike Taylor seemed especially motivated and talkative, and Taylor led the team with six tackles. Troy Polamalu is looking like his old self again, leaping over offensive lines and running back interceptions with reckless abandon. Their game plan, which apparently did not include as much blitzing as usual, seemed to work, because you can't argue too much with six points allowed and zero touchdowns.
The Browns' D featured heavy doses of Shaun Rogers, who is heavy in his own right. Rogers got to Roethlisberger once, as did two of his teammates, but they allowed 117 yards rushing to the Steelers' 53, and by my count at least four plays of 19 yards or more. By the way, was I the only one who thought that Rogers had a late hit on Roethlisberger when he pushed his big self into Ben's shoulder after the whistle?
Next up for the 2-0 Steelers is a 4:15 matchup with the Donovan McNabb and the Eagles in Philadelphia on Sunday. It's the Pennsylvania State Championship, and hopefully our QB will rest that shoulder before the big game.

Game Notes:
--Anyone else really nervous every time the Browns punted to the Steelers in those swirling winds? They dodged a few bullets, to say the least.

--The Steeler kick returners weren't much better than their punt returners, totaling 3 returns for 21 yards. You'll have that anytime Matt Spaeth shows up in that ledger.

--Once again, Skippy Reed comes through with a 48-yarder at a crucial point in the game. Color me impressed.

--Nice game out of Bryant McFadden last night, with an INT and big breakup in place of Deshea Townsend.

--Steeler rushing distribution: Parker 28 carries, Holmes 1, Roethlisberger 1, Davis 1. No Mendenhall, Coach Tomlin?

--I was praying for a Browns fan to run onto the field so James Harrison could recreate his priceless 2005 moment.

--I don't know about you, but I'm looking forward to Chuck, My Own Worst Enemy, and Heroes on NBC's fall schedule. Sorry, I was brainwashed last night.

--Wow, was John Madden rambling on (even by his standards) about Michael Phelps and Dennis Quaid!

--Speaking of repetitive promos, we have a DeNiro/Pacino movie and a DiCaprio/Crowe movie coming out? Who's casting all of these superstar-laden films, the Yankees?

--And to close, Mr. Kellen Winslow II!

9 comments:

Brian said...

Couldn't watch the game thanks to Ike knocking my power out (and I live in Cincinnati), so had to follow along on my blackberry. Wasn't easy to follow- what was with the taunting and other hairbrained PNLTs??

Someone Somewhere said...

Any game that features stars playing hurt, huge hits, wicked weather, and low scores has all the makings of a playoff-like game. In reality, for Cleveland...it was a playoff game. Instead of being up a half game, now they trail Pittsburgh by 2.5...and are in a huge hole. Unfortunately for the Browns, they get to face what are probably the best teams in the AFC East and West...along with the jaunt through the AFC South and NFC East...they have to go 8-6 -just- to finish .500. Valiant effort by Cleveland, but the better team came out on top this evening.

Cleveland's offensive line is very good. As good as the Steeler defense is playing, only dropping Anderson twice means the pass protection was probably excellent. The Browns didn't have much luck on the ground...though I don't know how much luck even Jim Brown would have had last night. Steeler fans should relish the moment, because Cleveland is going to get there...someday. Taking a more analytical approach, as with any series of events that occur repeatedly over time, games in this series just cannot keep going Pittsburgh's way...everything evens out. Hell, considering Pittsburgh now has a mere one game lead in the all-time series (or at least since whatever date the stat shown during the game was from), also in light of their (the Steelers') recent domination, this series once was owned by the Browns.

Pittsburgh's defense is playing as solid as I can remember. Another fairly conservative game plan...aside from Jerome Harrison's crazy jaunt up the sideline, there were no big gains. So far, as the field shortens, the better they play. I never felt threatened by Cleveland's presence inside the red zone.

Ryan Clark is one of my favorite Steelers. He took a HUGE shot on Braylon Edwards and paid the price for it. Kellen Winslow short-armed at least two passes as a result of the constant threat of Clark lurking somewhere nearby.

Romeo Crennel should consider hiring a clock management consultant.

How about coach Mike Tomlin's reaction following the post timeout jaunt by Willie Parker? I'd imagine he probably took some shit for that one on the sideline during the timeout. Thanks to The Real Fast Willie for turning on the jets and bailing him out.

Speaking of Willie...anyone care to gripe about his ability to bang it up inside and eke out 2-3 extra yards (I'll eat some crow here...I never thought he could do it...he's running really well)? There weren't many 3rd & 8+'s. This can nicely segue into the most surprising stat of the game:

Rashard Mendenhall: 0 carries, 0 yards. On a night when the QB is playing with a separated shoulder and the wind gusting to 50, there's probably going to be a lot of running plays...yet Mendenhall didn't have his number called once. I'm all for letting Willie run free, but there are two horses in the stable now...don't be shy about using them Bruce Arians.

Troy Polamalu is awesome...though he should have tackled Kellen Winslow instead of going for the ball (on the jump ball sometime in the 2nd half)...he's such a heady player, I was actually surprised that he didn't tackle him. His timing of the snap prior to the 2 minute warning was beautiful in it's chaotic simplicity. That's now two picks now for Taz. As Don mentioned last week...it's nice to have you back.

With the exception of Ike Taylor's insistence on starting shit...the Steeler defense has a more, um, 'professional' demeanor to it this season. I think I saw James Harrison helping up Jamal Lewis repeatedly during the second half. Winslow also was praising the Steeler defense afterward...which was surprising and actually somewhat refreshing.

LaMarr Woodley is a wrecking ball... and my man-love for him shall continue unfettered. I want to know how his "excessive force" hit on Derek Anderson received a 15 yard penalty, yet soon after we see a replay of Shaun Rogers laying out Roethlisberger with a lowered shoulder well after he released the ball, and there is no flag? Come on...I'm not going to go all Seahawk fan or anything, but if you're going to call it one way, you can't ignore it on the other side...sure, you're going to get booed for it...but throw the damn flag.

Another solid game by the offensive line. How about the newly svelte-looking Kendall Simmons getting loose, then showing some pretty sick agility for an offensive guard? John Madden loved it...maybe a little too much. When your QB is playing with a banged up wing and he's not having to run for his life (though, I would argue that Roethlisberger is probably a better passer once flushed from the pocket and forced to improvise.), for a Steeler offensive line, you are having a pretty good game. Chris Kemo continues to impress me...I don't think I've witnessed him being pushed backward yet (granted, I'm not watching the line play each and every down...but I try to pay attention when I can). He used his considerable momentum to eliminate the even more considerable Shaun Rogers several times early on.

Now the Steelers get to hit the road again against those jagoffs from eastern PA...Eagles fan better hope that Brian Westbrook drinks some extra pickle juice...because the Steeler D is currently looking very strong against the run.

Koz said...

I give Spaeth credit for calling for a smart fair catch on that short pooch kick off.

Goofy weather is the great equalizer in the NFL (see 2007 PIT 3 - MIA 0).

It was great to get a win and see the Clowns are still the Clowns.

tasj7045 said...

Hammers 10 Nails 6 = Best Headline of the day.

I think if the weather was better the Steelers would not have made it so close. I feel they dominated the Brownies excluding some occasions. Shaun Rodgers is and was a beast though. But team beats the individual.

Nipsy said...

Late hit? I had the same question when Shaun Rogers laid that shoulder into Ben. He may not have planted him into the ground a la Lamar Woodley, but he definitely followed through with the shoulder late.

To answer the question above, the taunting penalty was funny because it wasn't really explained or covered on TV. I really found it strange that it came from the defensive captain. Farrior admitted that he actually got flagged that time for flipping off a fan in the stands. Apparently he was just returning the favor, which I thought happened all the time on the sidelines, but it must be frowned upon in the field of play. It's bad enough letting another player goat you into a dumb penalty, but a fan?!

okel dokel said...

I will take this win. Not the prettiest, but I agree with tas the Steelers were set to dominate had the wind not been a factor.

Ben looked hurt, but his passes were crisp, tight and on target.

The Browns secondary is bad and I refuse to see them as a serious contender until it improves.

I agree Don, the 3rd down defense looked a little iffy, but that seems to happen when they go conservative. The Browns o-line is very good as well.

Bring on the 'Birds.

HotDog_Zanzabar said...

Next week should be the game of the week against the Eagles

Joey Porter’s Pit Bulls said...

Excellent post, Mondesi's House.

Matt H said...

That Winslow video never gets old.