Steeler Nation doesn’t just reside in the surrounding areas of Western Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia. It is a world-wide army that lives and dies with the NFL franchise that calls Pittsburgh it’s home. The six-time Super Bowl champions are a team that always strives for excellence, and their fans expect nothing less in return. This is the ultimate Steelers Game Day Preview that all followers of the black and gold come to find everything they need to know about the Pittsburgh Steelers and their upcoming opponent! Mike Drakulich (@PghSportsNation), who covers both Pitt football and the Steelers for NGSC Sports, brings you inside the huddle for both teams with a weekly game story, the Steelers offensive and defensive game plans for success, prediction, game day information, a detailed breakdown of each team, and an up to date team injury report. Heck, you’ll even know the weather at kickoff. The only thing you’re missing is a game uniform.
Steelers out to prove doubters wrong
Earlier this week, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin reacted angrily when asked if rumors of him seeking a head coach job with USC had any merit. It was a question that had to be asked, and Pittsburgh TribLive writer Tim Benz took the fury for asking it.
“I don’t have time for that speculation. That’s a joke to me,” Tomlin said. “I’ve of one of the best job in all of professional sports. Why would I have any interest in coaching college football? Never say never. But never. There’s not a booster with a big enough blank check.”
It seems that Tomlin’s anger was resonate of the mood felt by the team in general, and a unit that is focused to quiet the naysayers, and head up to Cleveland this Sunday, and play some Steelers football.
In effect, the Steelers (3-3) would like to make amends for the stunning playoff loss to the Browns (4-3) last January, 48-37.
The little brother up north has gotten a little cocky after two straight wins over the Steelers, whom have owned the Browns, basically, for the past 30 years.
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger sports a lifetime record of 23-2-1 against Cleveland.
Big Ben, who grew up just a few hours from Cleveland, and has made them regret passing on him in the 2004 draft ever since.
In what could be Roethlisberger’s final appearance playing in Cleveland, Ben was reflective of his career playing the Browns on the road.
“You appreciate the fans, you appreciate that environment, you appreciate the state of Ohio, where I’m from,” Roethlisberger said Wednesday. “It’s one of those things you look forward to, to go in there and hopefully get a win.”
Roethlisberger was FirstEnergy Stadium’s all-time winningest quarterback until the Browns’ Baker Mayfield finally passed him last year.
Big Ben also was appreciative of the famous “Dawg Pound” section of the stadium, located in the endzone.
“Anytime your fans have a nickname, or a has a nickname, it’s pretty cool,” Roethlisberger said. “They like to get on us, and it’s part of the game. Obviously, when you go there and you play well and you win, it has a little extra feeling of satisfaction. But it’s not easy to play there.”
The Steelers and Browns have been known as a nasty rivalry ever since these two teams started playing one another, however, when thinking about the last 30 years, one would think the bug does not share a rivalry with the windshield.
And up until last January, the windshield never cracked until those last two wins by the Browns.
“I don’t know this rivalry ever went away,” Roethlisberger said.
“Rivalries are great. AFC North football, they are always going to be rivals and there are going to be great games. I’m just glad that I’m not the most winning quarterback in their stadium history anymore.”
As for Baker Mayfield, who has a torn labrum and fracture in his nonthrowing shoulder, the former Oklahoma star will start this week against Pittsburgh after missing last week’s game vs the Broncos.
Also returning will be running back Nick Chubb, wide receiver Jarvis Landry, and starting right tackle Jack Conklin.
Out for the Browns will be WR Donovan Peoples-Jones (Groin), and starting CB Denzel Ward (Hamstring).
The Steelers will be minus tight end Eric Ebron and more than likely LB Melvin Ingram.
Steelers Game Plan for Success
- Attack downfield: Matt Canada and Roethlisberger need to design some plays that get the ball downfield, especially across the middle of the field. The Browns have a suspect secondary and can be exposed if attacked right. Diontae Johnson and Chase Claypool could be in for a big day.
- Get tight ends involved: One way to open some lanes for receivers downfield would be getting the ball to both Pat Friermuth and even Zach Gentry, something that has been direly missing from the Steelers passing attack.
- Run the ball: Persistence pays off, and whether Zach Banner returns or not, Pittsburgh needs to get Najee Harris the ball in any shape or form. The offensive line has played better of late.
- Shutdown Browns rushing game: Key to stopping Cleveland is hamstringing their ability to run the ball, which sets up splash plays for the passing game. Steelers need to be aggressive and very physical when it comes to bringing down Nick Chubb and D’Ernest Johnson. Time to man up in the trenches.
Pittsburgh’s defense has one job to do on Sunday:
After some embarrassing performances, especially in the 2nd half vs Seattle, in which the unit nearly blew a 14 point lead, Steelers defensive coordinator Keith Butler went to work with his guys over the past two weeks to fix the issues plaguing the defense.
“It’s not live until Sunday,” Butler said after practice Thursday. “We can think we can pat ourselves on the back and say, ‘Oh, OK, we got that covered.’ No, we don’t know until we start playing. We’ve got to get off blocks, and we’ve got to put bodies on the ball carrier.
“We’ve got to do that.”
14 missed tackles vs the Seahawks led to the defense allowing 126 yards on the ground.
This week, Pittsburgh gets to face one of the league’s best rushing teams in Cleveland, which averages an NFL-high 170.4 rushing yards per game.
Stopping Brown’s rushers Nick Chubb and D’Ernest Johnson will be priority #1.
“They are strong, especially Chubb, who has got real strong legs,” Butler said. “We’re going to have to put bodies on him. We’re going to have to get off blocks, fundamental stuff to football.”
Playing physical and gang tackling will help as well.
“It’s wrap up, get the eyes up, stuff like that,” said free safety Minkah Fitzpatrick, who alone, has eight missed tackles this year. “I don’t think it’s much of an issue. We have to keep working on it and put ourselves in a good position to the ball.”
Head coach Mike Tomlin expects better play from his front seven.
“The quality of their play could be better, but so could the play in front of them,” Tomlin said. “Together, we eat or do not. It’s a collective thing.”
Expect the Steelers to be very hungry this week. This is a game that could springboard the team into some huge momentum gained from winning the last two games, and then facing very winnable games vs the Bears and Lions the next two weeks.
After such a brutal start at 1-3, Pittsburgh could head into a Sunday night match-up vs the Chargers at 6-3.
But… it all starts this Sunday afternoon in Cleveland, a place where Ben Roethlisberger has dominated during his tenure as quarterback of the Steelers, and if this could possibly be the last time Big Ben suits up in Cleveland, what better way to go than with a big AFC North victory?
It will be a vicious and physical affair, but in the end, the Steelers will make enough plays to overcome the Browns in a slugfest… Steelers 24 Browns 20
Game Day Information
Pittsburgh Steelers at Cleveland Browns
- Vegas line: Cleveland -3.5
Venue: FirstEnergy Field, Cleveland, OH.
- Field: Kentucky Blue Grass
Game-time: Sunday, October 31st at 1:00 pm
TV: CBS (Local on KDKA-TV)
- Announcers: Jim Nantz (play-by-play) Tony Romo (analyst) | Tracy Wolfson (reporter)
Local radio: Pittsburgh- 102.5 WDVE-FM & 970 WBGG-AM
- Announcers: Bill Hillgrove (play-by-play) Craig Wolfley (analyst) | Max Starks (sideline) Missi Matthews (sideline)
National Radio: N/A
Internet broadcast: Steelers Nation Radio (SNR) on Steelers.com
Weather at kickoff: 55 and partly cloudy. Winds out of the West at 15-20 mph.
Scouting the Pittsburgh Steelers
Overall record: 3-3 (4th in AFC North)
Last game: Steelers 23 Seahawks 20 OT
Head Coach: Mike Tomlin (14th Season with Steelers)
- Overall regular-season record: 148-81-1
- Playoff record: 8-8 (Qualified for playoffs 9 times)
- 2020 Pittsburgh Steelers Team Roster
- Steelers Team/Individual Statistics
- Pittsburgh Steelers 2021 Schedule
- Points per game: 19.5
- Total yards per game: 333.7
- Passing yards per game: 252.5
- Rushing yards per game: 81.2
Offensive Scouting Report
- Strengths: Finally showed some balance last week between pass and rushing attack. Ben Roethlisberger is at his best throwing around 25 times a game. Najee Harris is getting better each week.
- Weaknesses: Being consistent… the offensive line looks to be improving each week, so this week will be a big sign of what to expect after the bye and what to work on.
Starting Quarterback: Ben Roethlisberger | Back-up: Mason Rudolph
- Ben Roethlisberger has 1,515 yards passing with seven touchdowns and four interceptions. He has been sacked 12 times. Big Ben is best suited dropping back to pass around 25 times a game.
Starting Running Back: Najee Harris | Back-up: Benny Snell, Jr. and Kalen Ballage.
- Rookie Najee Harris is getting stronger by the week, and has rushed for 388 yards and two scores this year. Harris also leads the team with 34 catches for 244 yards and two touchdowns..
Wide Receivers: Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool, James Washington, Ray-Ray McCloud, Cody White, and Anthony Miller.
- Diontae Johnson is tied for the team lead with 34 catches for 376 yards and three touchdowns. Chase Claypool has started to step his game up and has 22 receptions for 358 yards and a touchdown. Juju Smith-Schuster has been lost for the year with a shoulder injury. James Washington has caught 10 passes for 108 yards. Ray-Ray McCloud has seven receptions for 54 yards. Cody White will look to make the most of his chances, but had better not drop anymore passes like he did vs Denver. Anthony Miller has been signed and will see time eventually.
Ends: Eric Ebron, Pat Friermuth, and Zach Gentry.
- Eric Ebron has seven catches for 47 yards, while rookie Pat Friermuth also has 18 receptions for 158 yards and a score. Zach Gentry has logged three catches for 21 yards.
Placekicker: Chris Boswell
- Extra Points: 12-12
- Field Goals: 11-12
- 1-19 yards: 0-0
- 20-29 yards: 4-4
- 30-39 yards: 1-1
- 40-49 yards: 3-4
- 50+ yards: 3-3
Steelers Defense (Base 3-4)
- Points per game allowed: 22
- Total offense yards per game allowed: 352.3
- Passing yards allowed: 244.7
- Rushing yards allowed: 107.7
- Sacks: 15
- Interceptions: 2
Defensive Scouting Report
- Strengths: Great pass rush lead by T.J. Watt that limits opposing run game as well.
- Weaknesses: DE Stephon Tuitt is still on IR. Bad tackling and communication has lead to some blown plays this year.
Defensive Line: Cam Heyward, Isaiah Buggs, and Chris Wormley.
- Cam Heyward and Chris Wormley bookend Isaiah Buggs in the middle. Wormley will be in for starter Stephon Tuitt who is out indefinitely. Heyward has two sacks, a fumble recovery, and 36 tackles.
Linebackers: T.J. Watt, Devin Bush, Joe Schobert, and Melvin Ingram/Alex Highsmith.
- Defensive Player of the Year candidate T.J. Watt leads a solid linebacker corps alongside Devin Bush, Joe Schobert, a Pro Bowler acquired from Jacksonville, and Alex Highsmith. Expect to see plenty of time for Melvin Ingram, another former Pro Bowl player who began his career with the Chargers. Watt has seven sacks so far. Bush has 25 tackles and two sacks. Schobert is 2nd the team with 36 tackles.
Secondary: Joe Haden, Terrell Edmunds, Minkah Fitzpatrick, and Cameron Sutton*.
- Joe Haden and Cameron Sutton will be at the corners with Minkah Fitzpatrick at free safety and Terrell Edmunds at strong safety. CB James Pierre will see plenty of field time in the nickle. Fitzpatrick has a team leading 47 tackles. Edmunds has one the Steelers two interceptions. Pierre will start in place of the injured Sutton this week, but expect to see more time for Justin Layne as well. Former first rounder Karl Joseph has been elevated to the 53 man roster and will play this week.
Steelers Special Teams
Punter: Pressley Harvin III
Kickoff Returners: Ray-Ray McCloud
Punt Returner: Ray-Ray McCloud
Scouting report: McCloud is averaging 24.7 yard per kickoff return and 8.3 yards per punt return.
Scouting the Cleveland Browns
Overall record: 4-3 (3rd in AFC East)
Last game: Browns 17 Broncos 14
Head coach: Kevin Stefanski (2nd season with Cleveland)
- Overall regular-season record: 15-8 | 15-8 with Cleveland
- Points per game: 24.7
- Total Offense per game: 410.3
- Passing yards per game: 239.9
- Rushing yards per game: 170.4
Offensive Scouting Report
- Strengths: Great running game. Tight ends are utilized a lot.
- Weaknesses: Offensive line gives up a lot of sacks.
Starting Quarterback: Baker Mayfield | Back-up: Case Keenum
- Baker Mayfield has thrown for 1,474 yards with six touchdowns and three interceptions, and has been sacked 18 times. He will play this week. Case Keenum has started one game and has 205 yards passing with one TD. He was sacked once.
Starting Running Back: Nick Chubb | Back-up: Kareem Hunt*, D’Ernest Johnson, and Dometric Felton
- Nick Chubb will return as starter and has 523 yards with four touchdowns. With Kareem Hunt out, D’Ernest Johnson will see plenty of time on the field. Last start, Johnson ran for 146 yards and a score. Dometric Felton is mainly used as a pass catcher out of the backfield, and has caught 11 passes for 111 yards and a touchdown.
Wide Receivers: Odell Beckham, Jarvis Landry, Donovan Peoples-Jones, Rashard Higgins, and Anthony Schwartz.
- Odell Beckham, when not injured, is the Browns top receiver. He has 16 receptions for 226 yards. Jarvis Landry is back this week and has caught 11 passes for 117 yards. Donovan Peoples-Jones has 13 catches for 228 yards and a team leading two touchdowns. Rashard Higgins has 12 catches for 141 yards and a score.
Tight Ends: Austin Hooper, David Njoku, and Harrison Bryant
- David Njoku leads the team with 284 yards receiving off of 17 receptions. Austin Hooper has 14 catches for 143 yards and a score.
Placekicker: Chase McLaughlin
- Extra Points: 17-17
- Field Goals: 10-11
- 1-19 yards: 0-0
- 20-29 yards: 1-1
- 30-39 yards: 3-3
- 40-49 yards: 2-3
- 50+ yards: 4-4
Browns Defense (Base 4-3)
- Points per game allowed: 23.6
- Total offense yards per game allowed: 295.6
- Passing yards allowed: 215.1
- Rushing yards allowed: 80.4
- Sacks: 20
- Interceptions: 3
Defensive Scouting Report
- Strengths: Good pass rush.
- Weaknesses: Vulnerable in secondary vs good passing teams.
Defensive Line: Myles Garrett has 27 tackles and 9.5 sacks. Jadeveon Clowney has 16 tackles and 3.5 sacks.
Linebackers: Anthony Walker, Jr. leads the team with 35 tackles. Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah has 27 tackles and a half sack.
Secondary: Safety John Johnson III has 23 tackles and one interception. Corner Greedy Williams has one interception and 22 tackles.
Browns Special Teams
Kickoff Returners: Anthony Schwartz
Punt Returner: Dometric Felton
Scouting report: Anthony Schwartz is averaging 23.9 yards per kickoff return. Dometric Felton is averaging 9.7 yards per punt return.
Steelers vs Browns History
Series History: Began in 1950
Overall Record: 77-61-1
- Home: 49-22
- Away: 28-39-1
- Postseason: 2-1
Streak: Browns won the last two games.
Last regular-season meeting: Browns Win, 24-22 (Jan. 3, 2021)
Last postseason meeting: Browns Win, 48-37 (Jan. 10, 2021)
Injury Report (10/29/21)
- Out: TE Eric Ebron (Hamstring)
- Doubtful: LB Melvin Ingram III (Groin)
- Questionable: None reported
- Out: S Richard LeCounte III (Not Injury Related), WR Donovan Peoples-Jones (Groin), CB Denzel Ward (Hamstring)
- Doubtful: None reported
- Questionable: WR Odell Beckham Jr. (Shoulder), DE Jadeveon Clowney (Ankle, Goin, Knee), CB A.J. Green (Groin), DE Malik Jackson (Ankle), DE Takkarist Mckinley (Groin), FB Johnny Stanton (Calf)
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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