AFC North Champions. STEELERS WIN

It seemed like pretty much every game was a blowout this week, and fortunately (and expectedly) the Steelers were on the winning side of theirs. There’s not much to read into about this game. A playoff team absolutely dominated a bad team, no two ways about that. The Steelers have earned the AFC North crown and a bye week in the playoffs, which will be absolutely huge for them going forward. The next time we see this team, the defense might be in Week 1 form with Polamalu and Aaron Smith healthy. In the meantime, though, we can relax and watch a weekend of football. Let’s hope everyone wears each other out.

FIRST QUARTER

The Steelers squib the opening kickoff short of Josh Cribbs. Ben Watson juggles a pass and Troy Polamalu picks up the trash.

By the way, Polamalu is playing.

Ben shoots for the end zone on first down. Mike Wallace beats everyone.


One minute in, up 7-0. Making a statement early.
Also that’s it for pictures today, I’m lazy and Sportscenter is on.

Willie Gay blitzes and gets a free rush. Kesiel tips another pass into the dirt. Seneca Wallace comes in to throw a screen pass to Josh Cribbs. Harrison and Timmons have him for lunch. Ziggy Hood breaks in on 3rd down and drops McCoy for a sack. Humiliated the blocker there. Punt.

Mike Wallace breaks away after a catch on a slant route for 41 yards. Looked like Santonio Holmes out there, but without the drugs. People are punching each other after every play. The Browns’ defense comes out with some weird neutral zone trap on 3rd & 3. Ben does it himself. Mendenhall finishes the drive. 14-0.

Cribbs gets hurt on the next kick return. Maybe he’s just fragile.

Hillis takes the ball on Cleveland’s first run of the day. Nothing. Massaquoi runs a reverse up the middle. Predictably, that doesn’t work.

The Browns string together a few first downs. Colt McCoy is annoyingly elusive. The Steelers blitz 13 guys and McCoy beats them to Massaquoi. Ike Taylor missed the tackle and he gets down to the 5.

SECOND QUARTER

The defense does just enough to disrupt everything the offense has planned. Polamalu makes his “jump over the center” play and everyone keeps the flats covered. Phil Dawson kicks a field goal as the boos rain down from Cleveland faithful. 14-3.

A pair of runs by Ben and Mendenhall move the Steelers into Browns territory. Shaun Rodgers jumps through the line. Great fake by Ben to draw him offside.

3rd & goal from the 2 and Dan Fouts declares that they will not go for the field goal. No kidding, Dan. Mendy punches it in. 21-3.

The Steelers squib it again and this Mike Bell is there to get swallowed up by the coverage. Massaquoi somehow goes offside on offense and Cribbs gets wrestled down for no gain anyway. Ryan Clark picks off McCoy. Mangini wastes a timeout challenging.

Ben hits Hines Ward at the 4 on first down. Heath finishes it off. 28-3. The starting defense remains in the game. James Harrion lays a hit on McCoy (to be fined at a later date). He tries to force the throw. Anthony freakin’ Madison is there for the interception.

There are at least 10,000 empty seats in the stadium.

McCoy favors his right shoulder on the sideline. The same one he injured in college. Just sayin’. Antonio Brown shows some more playmaking ability when he gets a big gain on a screen pass. The Browns finally get their first third down stop of the game so Suisham boots the 41-yard field goal. 31-3.

The Steelers’ no-huddle defense is throwing in a different blitz on every down. McCoy has no idea what’s going on. The defense is playing with him on the first half’s final drive, much in the way that a panther on LSD might play with an injured gazelle that’s also blind in one eye.

HALFTIME

Now there are only 10,000 seats filled in the stadium.

THIRD QUARTER

Roethlisberger is still under center. “Heath” chants are audible. He catches another pass and he drives Abram Elam backwards standing up for a good 10 yards after the catch. Nice tackle, dude.

Someone false starts. Steelers’ first penalty of the game. Jon Scott starts fighting some dude again. No flags either way. Ben runs on two straight plays, one to convert a 4th & 1. No reason to have Ben in the game running the ball at this point. The Steelers end it on 3rd & goal. Randle El comes around on a reverse, stops on a dime, and lofts an easy pass to Hines Ward standing by himself in the end zone. 38-3. Superbowl XL all over again.

Time to call off the dogs. Polamalu’s done for the day. The defense still humiliates McCoy. Byron Leftwich comes in and runs a 3-and-out. Shaun Rodgers hauls Pouncey down by his jersey 20 feet behind the play and he gets hurt. No call. Not his fault you play for Cleveland, dick.

Massaquoi drops a pass. Gotta maintain control while you go to the ground. Kind of a dick move by Tomlin to challenge at this point, but whatev. McCoy keeps trying to cheat sacks by shoveling the ball into the dirt half a second before he hits the ground. Nice try. Anthony Madison gets a sack. Brett Keisel looks homeless.

Jonathan Dwyer is in at running back and Doug Legursky is in at center. Pouncey is sighted on the bench, notably not in the locker room.

JUNK

There’s a “Go Leafs Go” chant or something every now and then in the stadium.

FOURTH QUARTER

The Browns are awful and frustrated about it, so David Lee Roth hits Trai Essex in the back after the play. That’s a penalty every time. Jon Dwyer is looking like a solid, if unpolished, power back. Suisham throws salt in the wound. 41-3.

Cribbs muffs the kickoff and just slides with the ball. They give him the ball and he finally gets some positive yardage on the day, aided by a Will Allen facemask. He comes in at quarterback and can’t throw a touchdown pass against a bunch of special teamers.

Robert Royal can’t control a ball in the end zone but Brian Robiskie can. The Secret World Of Alex Mack snaps the ball over McCoy’s head on the try for 2. Some penalties happen and Ryan Mundy picks off the try in the end zone. 41-9.

Grind city. The Browns are determined to drag it out as long as they possibly can. By the end of the game you were rooting for the Browns to catch passes and not fumble just so time runs out. Then they finally do and Mangini calls a timeout anyway.

The clock mercifully runs out on a brutal afternoon in Cleveland, Ohio.

-The Steelers looked playoff-ready and will only look better after a week off.
-The Browns are really awful.
-Seriously what were the fans chanting?
-Black Monday tomorrow. Gonna be fun.

Brian Schaich

About Brian Schaich

Brian studied computer engineering long enough to know he just wanted to talk about sports all day for a living, so that's what he does.

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