There’s so many different storylines to talk about after this game. It’s funny, because everybody (myself included) expected this to be a stinker of a game.
Ben Roethlisberger injured his ankle in the 2nd quarter and it looked like his season may be over. But in typical Roethlisberger fashion, he was somehow back on the field to start the 2nd half after x-rays were negative. He couldn’t step into throws or scramble, but he found a way to help the Steelers scratch out enough offense to hold off the Browns and get a win.
Roethlisberger connected with Antonio Brown for a 79-yard TD pass that sealed the game with 2:52 left to go in the 4th quarter. It was a beautiful catch and run by Brown, who completely turned around and then outran the Browns secondary.
It was a great play that would have never happened if it wasn’t for an even bigger one by William Gay. The oft-maligned Steelers corner continued to play big in clutch moments when he intercepted a Colt McCoy pass in the endzone with the Browns threatening to take the league with under 4:00 to play. Gay knocked a ball down in the endzone earlier as well. Another huge night for him.
Coming into the game, Cleveland’s rush defense was ranked 30th in the league in DVOA and the Steelers did a great job of pounding away at them, especially after Roethlisberger’s injury. The tandem of Rashard Mendenhall and Isaac Redman went well over a combined 100 yards, though Mendenhall and the running game failed to score on four straight attempts from the 1-yard line in the 3rd quarter.
It was another “ugly win” for Pittsburgh, but given Roethlisberger’s injury, it was great to see the Steelers come back and grind out their 10th win of the year.
A few other notes:
-B- Heath Miller had two catches on the night. He’s now tied with Steeler great Elbie Nickel for the lead in all-time catches by a Pittsburgh tight end with 329. The Steelers tried a couple of times to get the ball to Miller a third time, but one catch was nulified by a holding penalty on Chris Kemoeatu and another pass Miller’s way ended up being Roethlisberger’s lone interception on the night. I was hoping he would get the record tonight, as the Steelers are away next week.
-B- Speaking of Kemoeatu, he saw a lot of action tonight after Maurkice Pouncey left with an injury. It was a horrendous showing for 68. I’m not sure the Steelers can continue to play him. Too many penalties.
-B- James Harrison was flagged for a helmet-to-helmet hit on McCoy in the 4th quarter and it was deserving. Harrison is going to get a huge fine too, I’m sure.
-B- Troy Polamalu had a typical Polamalu game. He misread a few coverages, but he also intercepted McCoy on a great read early on in the game. It was his first of the season.
-B- Steve McLendon is a heck of a football player. His mentor, Chris Hoke, must be proud.