Photo Courtesy: Steelers.Com
A month ago it looked as though the Cleveland Browns would finally knock their big brother out. Instead the narrative in this “rivalry”—if you can still call it that—is the same, another dominating performance by the Steelers over the Dawgs. Pittsburgh has now won 22 of the last 25 against Cleveland going back to 2001.
After a firework filled first half last Sunday against Detroit, this week was a lull until Roethlisberger hooked up with Antonio Brown for a 41 yard touchdown. Then a forced fumble and recovery by Troy Polumalu opened the door for Roethlisberger and the Steeler Offense to stretch the lead against a Browns defense that ranked 4th in the NFL.
The Steelers D is starting to resemble what Pittsburgh fans are accustom to, sacking Cleveland Quarterbacks Jason Campbell and Brandon Weeden 5 times and creating turnovers. Three fumble recoveries, an interception returned for a touchdown and the first for the Steelers D in 16 games led to 17 of the 27 points scored.
My only gripe is the Steelers D gave up 200 plus yards to one wide receiver and this wasn’t Calvin “Megatron” Johnson, the undisputed best in the NFL. Josh Gordon had 14 receptions for 237 yards and a touchdown. This only highlights the greatest weakness in this team throughout this season and most likely what will cost them if they don’t make the playoffs. But, at least a majority of it came in garbage time.
The Steelers play is bitter sweet. On one hand you’re happy to see them play with the sense of pride from an organization that has the most Super Bowl Trophies. But, on the other hand, you’re shaking your head in disappointment that they didn’t figure it out sooner.
Pittsburgh still has a chance to win the AFC North division with another game against the struggling Cincinnati Bengals and can still make the playoffs as a wild card if they don’t win the North. The only teams that have a better shot at grabbing that last spot would be the Tennessee Titans who beat the Steelers in week one, and the Oakland Raiders who beat Pittsburgh in week eight.
Unfortunately they are entering a tough situation this week playing two games in four days on the road; their next on Thanksgiving night at Baltimore. If they can continue to use this winning recipe that has helped them win three in a row—5 of their last 7—the Black & Gold will complete one of the most improbable turnarounds in recent NFL history. Once in the playoffs it’s a whole new ball game. Just ask the 2005 Super Bowl Champs.