The four game losing streak is history. The curse of Donald Trump waving the Terrible Towel is over now too. The Pittsburgh Steelers did a lot of good things against the Cleveland Browns Sunday but they left a lot to be desired as well.
The Steelers won 24-9 in blustery and cold Cleveland but don’t let the score fool you. Despite battering rookie quarterback Cody Kessler and his backup Josh McCown like they were tackling dummies, the Steelers left the Browns in the game late in the fourth quarter leading just 17-9.
Eventually a strip sack by Ryan Shazier and resulting fumble recovery for touchdown by Javon Hargrave gave the Steelers room to breathe and ultimately the win. But as we’ve come to know all too well, the Steelers had only themselves to blame for leaving things up in the air.
Twice the Steelers were stymied in the red zone settling for two Chris Boswell field goals. A third trip at the end of the first half nearly ended in disaster. Rather than kick a third field goal, Mike Tomlin chose to go for a touchdown with five seconds left inside the five.
Ben Roethlisberger’s pass went incomplete and the time expired but a penalty gave the Steelers an untimed down and again they went for it. Antonio Brown was interfered with resulting in yet another untimed down and this time Todd Haley went to the ground from two yards out with Le’Veon Bell scoring. The two-point try to David Johnson was successful and the Steelers had what seemed to be a commanding 14-0 lead.
That whole series of events was a microcosm of the Steelers’ season. In the last two weeks we’ve seen them connect on one of five two-point conversions and the red zone ineffectiveness against the worst defense in football was troubling.
Credit should certainly be given to the Browns for fighting all day long with really no reason to other than pride.
The Steelers’ D had its best day of the season but again it must be taken cautiously. Kessler struggled to move the offense all afternoon before being knocked out with a concussion. McCown came in and led a touchdown drive and actually found some success moving the ball.
Thankfully Keith Butler kept up the pressure and that kept McCown off balance just enough.
Make no mistake-this was a much needed win-but things still aren’t where they should be in my opinion. Thursday night in Indianapolis will be a much better measuring stick for where this team is and where it’s headed.
Photo courtesy newsday