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Inside the Steelers: Pittsburgh at Cleveland Preview

A win, is a win, is a win. Or so they are saying at Steelers Headquarters. Last week, the Steelers survived the Jaguars with a 17-9 victory on the road in Jacksonville.

The defense finally stepped up and made plays when it counted. It allowed only three field goals and 243 total yards to the 31st ranked Jacksonville offense. It did what it was supposed to do.

Cortez Allen and Brice McCain both picked off Blake Bortles, the latter going to the house for six.

Still, Pittsburgh managed only one sack on the day, and that is an area of concern. Dick LeBeau’s defenses have always depended on quarterback pressure, causing chaos and disruption.

Eight sacks through five games isn’t cutting it.

Either is scoring one touchdown against the 32nd ranked defense in the NFL. You know, dead last.

The trips into the Red Zone have been especially troubling. The Steelers produced one touchdown on four trips inside the Jacksonville 20, dropping their red zone efficiency to an NFL 26th-ranked 43.8 percent. That’s absurd. Of the 14 plays from the Jaguars’ 20 or closer, 11 were pass plays and three were kneel downs.

Bell, who is averages 92 yards per game, didn’t get a single carry in those four possessions that ventured inside the 20 yard line.

Not one carry? Are you serious?? One of the top running backs in the game doesn’t get one opportunity to carry the ball???

To boot, it was stated that none of the plays called were run/pass options. They were what they were, according to Head Coach Mike Tomlin.

To use one of Tomlin’s favorite sayings, that’s unacceptable.

Now the Steelers travel up to Cleveland this Sunday. The Browns are 2-2 after a superb comeback against Tennessee last week. They will be looking for exact revenge on the Steelers after almost coming back on opening day to defeat Pittsburgh after trailing 27-3 at halftime. A last second field goal saved the Steelers the most embarrassing loss ever at home as they prevailed 30-27.

Browns QB Brian Hoyer has been surprisingly good, as he holds of 1st round draft pick Johnny Manziel from taking over as the face of the franchise. Hoyer has completed 82 of 132 passes for 1,008 yards, six touchdowns and one interception. He has also been sacked only twice since going down three times against the Steelers.

At running back, the Browns employ up to three different guys in Ben Tate, Isaiah Crowell, and Terrance West. West leads the trio with 235 yards rushing this season. Expect to see all three on the field at various times this week.

At receiver, Andrew Hawkins has stepped up as Hoyer’s go-to guy. He has 24 receptions for 270 yards, but has yet to reach the endzone. Taylor Gabriel, Miles Austin, and Travis Benjamin have all contributed at times. Tight End Jordan Cameron has just six catches for 106 yards, but he hasn’t been fully healthy all year long. The Browns currently rank 9th in Total Offense going into this game.

Problem is, the Browns defense is ranked 31st, and giving up a 26.3 points a game. To make matters worse, Pro Bowl cornerback Joe Haden is injured, and may sit on against the Steelers.

The Steelers offense needs to get rolling this week, and perhaps that means it time for offensive coordinator Todd Haley to set Ben Roethlisberger loose. These little dink and dunk passes aren’t cutting it. The Steelers have too much talent to be as sublime as they’ve been. This is evident by ranking 4th in Offense, but only 18th in scoring.

Perhaps the addition of rookie wide-out Martavis Bryant will help. The 6’4 frame from Clemson may be a welcomed target for Ben Roethlisberger inside the redzone. It certainly couldn’t hurt.

Antonio Brown has to be licking his chops in anticipation of this game. Even if Haden plays, Brown has torched the Cleveland over and over in the past. His quarterback is even better, sporting a lifetime 18-1 record against the Browns.

Lance Moore saw time on the field last week, even though he stupidly spiked the ball after making a first down, resulting in a Delay of Game penalty, and a death stare from Tomlin. Roethlisberger hit eleven different targets last week. The only guy held without a catch was Matt Spaeth.

The pieces of the puzzle are in place for the Steelers’ offense to flourish. It’s time to bring the crop to harvest this week. If this keeps up, rapper Snoop Dogg is likely to send a henchman to bust Todd Haley’s kneecaps.

Prediction: Steelers prevail in a close one 24-14 as the Dawg Pound goes home with their tails between their legs once again.

 

Game Information

Pittsburgh Steelers (3-2) at Cleveland Brown (2-2)

Venue: First Energy Stadium, Cleveland, OH.

Game-time: 1:00 PM

TV: CBS

Weather: Mostly sunny with a high temp of 63.

Vegas Line: Browns (-1)

 

Game Notes

*  Steelers lead overall series 66-57.

* Pittsburgh looks win its fourth consecutive game versus
Cleveland and sweep the two-game regular-season series
for the 11th time since the 2000 season.

* WR Antonio Brown will become the eighth Steeler in team history with 300
career receptions with his fifth reception.

* RB Le’Veon Bell has set a team record for the most yards from
scrimmage through the fi rst fi ve games of a season with 688 –
leading the AFC and second in the NFL through Week 5.

 

Injury Report

Pittsburgh

Out: LB Ryan Shazier (knee), CB Ike Taylor (forearm), S Shamarko Thomas (hamstring)

Questionable:

Probable: DE Brett Keisel (not injury related), TE Heath Miller (not injury related), S Michael Mitchell (not injury related), S Troy Polamalu (not injury related)

Cleveland

Out: WR Rodney Smith (hamstring), DE Phillip Taylor (knee), DE Billy Winn (quadricep)

Questionable: CB Joe Haden (hip), LB Paul Kruger (back), DT Ahtyba Rubin (ankle)

Probable: DE Desmond Bryant (wrist), TE Jordan Cameron (ankle, shoulder), S Tashaun Gipson (shoulder), G John Greco (knee), LB Barkevious Mingo (shoulder), CB Buster Skrine (thumb), RB Ben Tate (finger)

 

Author Profile

Mike DrakulichYour source for Pittsburgh sports!

From Midland, “The Basketball Capital of Pennsylvania”, located 35 miles NW of Pittsburgh along the Ohio River. This former steel town was home to storied athletes such as Dave Alston, Norm Van Lier, Simmie Hill, and the legendary 1965 Midland High School Basketball Team.


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