I think the look on Ben Roethlisberger’s face says it all. Yep, The Rivalry definitely deserves capital letters once again. Yesterday’s 31-28 win over the Cleveland Browns saw the Steelers storm back from a 15 point deficit and win in a wild fourth quarter where the lead changed hands three times in the span of eight minutes.
I’ve heard some sportscasters say they felt we won when we really deserved to lose. Nonsense, I say. Our defense played a tremendous game. Don’t be fooled by the 28 points the Steelers surrendered. Most of them came under extenuating circumstances. One Cleveland touchdown “drive” began at about the Steeler 35 due to a Roethlisberger interception. Another began inside the 15 thanks to a big punt return. And a third touchdown was scored on Joshua Cribbs’ 100 yard kickoff return. When the Browns weren’t given the short field to work with, the Steelers defense all but stifled them. They had one nice drive on the opening possession but Ike Taylor and Deshea Townshend did a tremendous job in coverage and, although we didn’t get many (any?) sacks, there was enough pressure to keep Derek Anderson off-balance and hurried all game long.
Still, Romeo, where for art thou, Romeo? ‘Tis nobler to type a recap in a rhyme, than save your ability to call time? The Browns would’ve had a really good shot at a tie if Crennel hadn’t turned that last Steelers TD into a FUBAR. Blowing two timeouts on a play that wasn’t even close to questionable was such a bonehead move, maybe he’s Marvin Lewis’ second cousin twice removed or something.
Big Ben is getting almost universal praise for his play and he did have a great game to continue with his tremendous season. But he did do some stupid things which I hope don’t crop up again in the future. In my preview, I mentioned how poorly our offense line had been playing, allowing too much harassment of poor Ben. Well, he was harassed like a woman at a Star Trek convention (Cleveland came in with 7 sacks ALL SEASON and collected 4 yesterday) but I really don’t blame the line for it. On almost all those sacks, Ben held on to the ball way way too long. In fact, several times when he was “pressured,” he was actually given time to throw but waited until people started to crash in on him before he decided what to do. Don’t get me wrong, I agree that Roethlisberger’s name should be mentioned along with Manning and Brady when we start talking about best quarterbacks in the league—I’m just hoping this indecisiveness works itself out because sooner or later, it’ll cost you.
Just like sooner or later, our abysmal special teams will cost us dearly. Our return coverage has sucked the big, fat, Polish sausage for five games now but watching grown men flopping around, trying to trip up Cribbs on that kickoff runback like they’re playing on a Slip-N-Slide, was just embarrassing. Why do the Steelers always have issues with special teams? I remember back in the early Cowher years when he imported supposed special teams guru Bobby April because we were getting killed on kick/punt returns. We still did poorly under his leadership but it was entertaining to see the veins on his neck bulge whenever we’d give up a big return. It’s not so fun anymore. Where’s Chidi Iwuoma? Somebody better get his agent on the phone, STAT. We need ya, Chidi! We need ya bad!!