The Pittsburgh Steelers defeated the Cleveland Browns during a blustery and slightly snowy afternoon up in Cleveland on Sunday. It was a pretty complete and convincing win, and dare I say – the Steelers are on a win streak? Three games at that. It was a strange game to watch, only for the simple fact that the Steelers looked like their old selves again. I’m not talking the 0-4 gutter snipes from earlier this season either. What I and the rest of Steeler Nation saw on Sunday was as close to a complete game as you can get from the entire squad. There was a bit of being uncomfortable watching something that has felt comfortable for years – a solid Steelers football win. No complaints about that. The team appears to be working out (or at the very least working around) its most glaring problems that has plagued them all season long.
For once, there is lots of good to talk about and very little in the way of bad and ugly. So, you’ll have to excuse me if I don’t get all the ‘good.’
Offensive Line – The Steelers went from being turnstiles to some protection to a single sack against the Lions to zero against the Browns. That’s right. ZERO. Even against the worst of teams in the NFL, the Steelers helped defenses pad the stats when it came to putting pressure on Ben Roethlisberger. Roethlisberger had another solid game, rookie RB Le’Veon Bell had 23 carries for 80 yards, Antonio Brown had 6 catches for 92 yards and a touchdown. All of these were possible because of the solid offensive line play. They protected Ben long enough to get rid of the ball before being taken down, they paved the way for Bell’s 80 yards, and they gave Ben even more protection to let a 41 yard TD throw and catch take place between Big Ben and AB. Something else that shouldn’t be taken lightly is the fact that the Steelers line has pretty much stayed healthy the last two games. The evidence has never been more stacked to show that when the Steelers have a ‘healthy’ line and one that plays as well as they have the last two games, the offense is efficient and puts up points. Great job by the front five.
Big Ben & AB – Both of these guys continue to play very well. After both took some heated criticism (at least from folks like us) both Ben and Brown have turned their play around the last couple of weeks, and that carried into the game against the Browns. They are clicking, and Ben feels very comfortable with the route running from Brown. Brown pulled in six catches which put him over 1,000 for the season – the second time in his four years in the NFL. Whoever said that Mike Wallace was the sole reason why Antonio Brown had a couple of good seasons I hope is eating a big fat plate of crow…. or maybe a fat plate of Ratbirds. Brown is a talented receiver and is worth every penny since he signed his contract extension. If these two can continue to hook up six or more times a game like they have been, then the offense will be in very good shape. Where the Steelers will need to take advantage of is when AB is doubled up over the top leaving guys like Sanders one on one. Oh and did you see that coffin pooch by Big Ben?!
Jason Worilds, Jarvis Jones, Vince Williams & Al Woods – Guys that we hoped would step up on defense are starting to step up. These four men had a great game on Sunday. Worilds and Jones were blitzing freaks, and even though they didn’t get to the quarterback to cause their own sack, they set the table for the others. Al Woods got two sacks, and Vince Williams had four good solo tackles. It was impressive to watch.
Troy Polamalu – 3 tackles, 1 sack, 2 forced fumbles. I haven’t seen a state line like that from Troy in almost two years. Splash.
Honorable Mention: No Turnovers after racking up 8 in Cleveland last season and the ability to take advantage of the turnovers they forced.