This was a crazy game. I have no idea what happened. The Steelers rolled in the first half scoring 27 points and taking 24 point lead and then in the second half the defense and offense just disappeared until the last five minutes of the game. What should have been a runaway laugher turned into a game that would have been super embarrassing to lose. I have no idea what to think overall but at the end of the day the Steelers got a win and that is really all that matters. Mike Tomlin likes to say that style points don't matter, and I agree with him, but against a better offense the Steelers lose this game.
The first half showed Ben Roethlisberger go 16-for-22 for 278 yards a touchdown and an interception. In total the Steelers out-gained the Browns 354-101 and the Steelers scored points on all but two of their seven possessions. In the second half the Browns scored on their first four possessions while the Steelers punted their first five possessions.
There were a bunch of good things today despite the lack of anything resembling good football in the second half. To start Le'Veon Bell carried the ball 21 times for 109 yards and a touchdown while he caught six passes for 88 yards. He was all over the field and looked a lot better than I expected. Not that I expected him to be bad but it seemed like there were some huge expectations of him and I thought it was going to be tough for him to live up to it. He lived up to it and so much more. He was all over the field and when there wasn't a hole he was waiting for a small crease to open up and he hit it. Exactly what the Steelers haven't had in a back in some time and hopefully this is what he gets every week.
Antonio Brown was just as good. He did all of his work in the firs half and despite having zero catches in the second half he ended the game with five catches for 116 yards and a touchdown. He also kicked Browns punter Spencer Lanning in the face.
Jim Ross calling anything is great.
Brown was all over the field and was abusing Joe Haden. Haden got the better of Brown in the second half but a lot of the damage was already done. Brown was one of the best recovers in the league last season and he started off on a good foot again this season.
The depth of the receiving core stepped up too, especially Markus Wheaton. Wheaton made six catches for 97 yards including a big 20 yard catch that put the Steelers in field goal range for the game-winning kick. The question that I had in the pregame was how the Steelers depth at receiver would come through. Wheaton hasn't done a lot and Justin Brown was the number three so it would be interesting. Wheaton stepped up in a big way and was able to catch the intermediate routes and caught a deep ball in the first half. He seemed to have been a threat in all aspects today and that was a big reason for the Steelers win.
Roethlisberger is really good at playing quarterback. I talked about his great first half but when it came down to it he was able to step up in the pocket and make a great play to hit Wheaton for the eventual game winning field goal. His touchdown pass to Brown in the first half was vintage Roethlisberger as he avoided the pressure, got to the perimeter and threw a nice touch pass in the back corner. He did struggle in the second half some but overall he looked really good despite throwing an awful interception in his own end. Overall good stuff from Large Benjamin today. He makes the offense go.
The defense was pretty awful. That is actually giving them some credit considering how they played in the second half against a pretty bad Browns team that was missing a couple of their key parts. The run defense was going to be suspect and while they kept things in check in the first half they got crushed in the second half. All told the Browns rushed for 183 yards and a lot of that came with starter Ben Tate out of the game. The defense line was getting pushed around and the linebackers were nowhere to be found. Multiple times Browns running backs weren't getting touched until they were into the second level and it helped the Cleveland play action game shred the defense.
After only 101 total yards in the first half the Browns had 288 in the second half and really just did whatever they wanted. From the onset of the second half they went with a no huddle offense that had the Steelers utterly confused and had them running around like they were a chocked with their head cut off. There were huge holes in the running game and multiple times the secondary just wasn't covering a Browns receiver. Really perplexing stuff. I have no idea what was being said but that stuff needs to be fixed, stat.
The offense does need called out too. One longer drive in the second half could have stemmed a lot of the Browns momentum but the Steelers couldn't get anything going. The number of plays in the Steelers second half drives were three, six, three, seven, five, five. Sure the seven play drive was nice but it only took up four minutes and 30 yards. The offense carried the team in the first half but there is no excuse for completely going into a hole in the second half. It was good, but it needs to be better.
The Steelers also had a fake punt. Pretty ballsy call by Mike Tomlin. With the Steelers facing a 4th and 10 on their own 20 yard line defensive back Antwon Blake was uncovered as the gunner and Robert Golden threw him a 25 yard pass for a first down. Nothing came of the fake punt but that is a largely ballsy call in a tie game on your own 20 yard line. That is kinda how big winning this game was and not blowing a 24 point lead in a loss. Big ups to Tomlin.
Like I said before, a win is a win. The Steelers have a short week before they go against the Ravens on Thursday night football. The Ravens lost to the Bengals today so this is a largely important game for them. If the Steelers can win they put the Ravens behind the eight ball in a huge way with two division losses in two weeks. Also, beating the Ravens is the best, so, go do that.