The Steelers opened the 2017 season in Cleveland against the lowly Browns. Cleveland saw a significant amount of roster turnover from their team that went 1-15 last year and were starting a rookie at quarterback. The Steelers have played a number of bad weather games on the shores of Lake Erie in the past, but that would not be the case this year. In fact, Craig Wolfley mentioned in the pregame show this was the nicest weather he could remember for a game in Cleveland. Wolf then proceeded to tell a story about a game the Steelers played after a Pink Floyd concert in the Mistake By The Lake. The concert left holes on the field that the Browns filled with sand from the Lake Erie beaches so the whole field smelled like dead fish.
In true Cleveland Browns fashion, they went 3-and-out and got a punt blocked. The Browns are still the Browns, in case you might have been inclined to forget. Dirty Red Tyler Matakevich with the block and Anthony Chickillo fell on the ball in the end zone to put the Steelers up 7-0 early.
The defense came up with a stop and the long-awaited Steelers offense took the field. Finally, we had Ben, Bell, Brown and Bryant all on the field together and healthy. And it……did not live up to expectations. The first drive was all infuriating bubble screens.
The Browns got the ball back and worked the ball down the field, getting a big pass interference penalty on Sean Davis on third down. The penalty put them right on the doorstep and 2 plays later Kizer cashed it in to tie the game.
The Steelers continued to work the short passing game and finally gave Le’Veon a few carries. Nothing much was happening and it was punt city. The game slowed down from there with neither offense able to do much. The Steelers continued to take penalties, but thankfully were able to just trade punts while their short passing game infuriated everyone. To their credit, the Browns were stacking the box with 9 or 10 guys within 5 yards of the line of scrimmage, basically daring the Steelers to test them deep.
The Steelers finally decided to throw the ball to Antonio Brown. And things started to happen. Brown hauled one in across the middle and took off, gashing the Browns for a big 50-yarder to set up the Steelers offense.
Ben kept going his way and got us down inside the 10 with just under a minute left in the half. On third and goal, Ben was able to thread the needle to The Outlaw Jesse James for the go-ahead score.
Some questionable clock management by Tomlin left about 30 more seconds than there needed to be on the clock. Thankfully, the Browns didn’t do much with it and Joe Haden came up with a sack to end the half.
Ben took his only sack of the game which pretty much killed the first drive out of the half, and Cleveland responded by taking it down and kicking a field goal. TJ Watt recorded his first career sack.
The Steelers started moving the ball then took a shot deep for Antonio Brown. The defensive back was holding his hand the whole way down the field like Brown was his prom date, which drew a flag.
That penalty set the Steelers up in the red zone and Le’Veon was able to get us down to the doorstep. On 3rd and goal, Haley dialed up a slip screen to Jesse James who converted for his second score of the game.
TJ Watt recorded his second sack of the game, surpassing Jarvis Jones’ production from his rookie season in just one game. But the Browns would get a gift when William Gay nearly decapitated a receiver on third down. The Steelers had them in third and long but the Penalty gave the Browns new life. The Steelers couldn’t get out of their own way and took a defensive holding penalty and allowed a 4th down conversion as the Browns drove into field goal range. Anthony Chickillo recorded a sack but before you could celebrate, TJ Watt was flagged for piling on. Watt redeemed himself on the very next play by making a leaping interception to end the scoring threat.
James Conner got a few carries as the Steelers moved across midfield. AB got us to the edge of field goal range and the Steelers were on the verge of putting the game away. On 3rd and 9 Ben tried to force one on a deep post to Martavis but the underneath corner was able to get a hand on it and tip it away from Bryant, right into the hands of a safety.
Javon Hargrave made a grown ass man move to bull-rush his way to Kizer and essentially end the Browns threat. Unfortunately, the Steelers continued to shoot themselves in the foot with penalties. A hold on JuJu Smith-Schuster (his second of the game) wiped out Le’Veon’s best run of the game. The penalty put the Steelers well behind the chains and they weren’t able to recover.
Cleveland got the ball back down by 11 and suddenly put a competent drive together. The Steelers defense continued a troubling trend of missed tackles. The Browns marched down the field and didn’t face a third down until it was third and goal. The Steelers got a stop but the Browns chose to go for it. Kizer hit last year’s first round pick Corey Coleman on a slant at the goal line. JJ Wilcox tried to light up Coleman but hit him helmet-to-helmet and concussed himself. Coleman held on and the Browns converted an easy run on a 2-point try to pull within 3.
Down by 3 with 3 and a half minutes to play, the Browns chose to trust their defense rather than trying an onside kick. Jesse James made a catch but a penalty on Pouncey wiped out another good run by Le’Veon. Bell got a lot of flak for his poor runs early in the game, but he appeared to get stronger as the game went on. On 2nd and 12, Ben threw up a prayer and AB made an insane leaping grab between three defenders.
No clue how AB caught that ball. He is unbelieveable.
Cleveland challenged, which cost them their last timeout.
Bell ripped off a 15-yard run, which essentially doubled his rushing yardage for the day. That took us to the two-minute warning and with the Browns out of timeouts, it was all she wrote.
Victory Formation time.
Peace out, Cleveland