10.17.2010

Browns Lose To Steelers And Order Is Restored To Cosmos

Could probably use a little more dried blood, but that's a sufficiently filthy Colt McCoy jersey.

Had Joshua Cribbs not been injured by a James Harrison knee to the helmet on a tackle in the first half, we probably wouldn't have seen 33 pass attempts out of young Mister Wholesome Incarnate Colt McCoy, but I thought the rookie actually did a pretty admirable job given the circumstances. The first interception wasn't really his fault. He never looked jittery, even to the point that he drew a heady "poise" compliment from the announcers.

Peyton Hillis also looked much more healthy than we were led to believe in the days leading up to the game. But the Cleveland offense altogether looked toothless until late in the game when the Steelers defense went into prevent mode and the Browns gladly took their charity score. Cleveland looked outmatched the entire game and it was only late in the first half when the Steelers were stalling in drives and just couldn't expand the lead beyond 7-3 when the game seemed even slightly in doubt.

Of course, the story for anyone not emotionally invested in either of these teams was the return of Ben Roethlisberger. After a poor throw in the red zone that resulted in an early interception, Ben looked mostly solid the rest of the way, connected well on deep throws to Mike Wallace and exhibiting pretty good decision making, though there were a few plays where it seemed like he was trying to hard to make the big play and forced it. Hopefully, this was the case of wanting to make a big splash in his return and Ben will have reined that in somewhat by next week.

Just as encouraging was the amount of running that the Steelers offense did. When it was announced this week that Emmanuel Sanders would dress in place of Antonio Brown, I panicked, thinking it was a sign that the passing frenzy would commence forthwith. But Bruce Arians, either in an effort to ease Ben back into the offense, or hopefully to sincerely keep a emphasis on the run, kept banging it away with Mendy. Spindenhall didn't have his best game, averaging only 3.1 yards per carry, but was reasonably productive throughout. Isaac Redman might have pushed Mewelde Moore out of the third down role with his superb play as well. Sanders, meanwhile, seems to fit in well as the fourth receiver. He had two nice catches to extend drives.

I noticed Chris Kemoeatu left the field late in the first half to have his legs looked at on the sideline, but it appears that it was nothing serious. Doug Legursky went down on the 50-yard pass to Wallace from the Steelers own end zone, but as with Kemo, I haven't heard anything that would indicate it's really serious.

All in all, this was a taking care of business game with a slight emotional element given Roethlisberger's return. Pittsburgh won calmly and smoothly, got Ben the confidence boost he needed without sustaining any significant injuries. Plus, thanks to the Ravens tanking in New England, Pittsburgh once again has sole possession of first place in the AFC North. Now the Steelers can dig in for an important four-game stretch against Miami, New Orleans, Cincinnati and New England.

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