The Browns-Steelers game this Sunday will feature the 2010 debuts for two big name quarterbacks with even bigger (yet painfully obvious) nicknames. “Big” Ben Roethlisberger will be back from his four game suspension to lead the Steelers (3-1), who have fared quite well in Roethlisberger’s absence thanks to their league leading defense. On the other side it will be Colt ”The Real” McCoy making his NFL debut under center for the Browns (1-4). The Browns have played well this year, though their record does not reflect it. All four of the Brown’s loses this season have come against teams with winning records, and their average margin of defeat is less than a touchdown at 5.5. They will have all they can handle come Sunday in Pittsburgh to keep that number from increasing.
The number one obstacle that the Browns will be contending with is the Steelers defense. To give you an idea of how tough the Steelers run defense is, against Tennessee in week two the Steelers held Chris Johnson who had over 2,000 yards on the ground last season to a mere 34 yards rushing. That snapped a streak of twelve straight games with at least 100 yards for Johnson, who averaged 140 yards per game during the streak and is at 103.3 yards per game for his career. For the season, the Steelers defense is tops in the league in rushing yardage, allowing a paltry 62.3 yards per game. In addition, they are the league’s best defense in scoring, which is unequivocally the most important category, allowing only 12.5 points per game thus far. What’s more is the Pittsburgh defense is healthy, fresh off a bye week and angry to have let a win slip through their fingers in their last game against the Ravens. Good luck Colt.
The next obstacle for the Browns is overcoming their injuries. We already know about the injuries to QBs Jake Delhomme and Seneca Wallace that has forced McCoy into action. Arguably the Browns most important offensive player, Peyton Hillis has been battling a pulled quadriceps muscle. It was clear the injury slowed down Hillis last week against the Falcons when he only managed 28 rushing yards, limping back to the huddle after each play. In addition, the Browns are banged up along the offensive line. Right-tackle John St. Clair, right-guard Floyd “Pork-chop” Womack (now that’s a nickname), and center Alex Mack all have not practiced this week, and all are listed as questionable on the team’s injury report.
Finally, the Browns are going to have to contend with the Steelers offense and the return of Roethlisberger. Normally you might assume a player coming back from a suspension might be rusty, but Roethlisberger is not exactly the type of player to be affected by a month off. Rather then relying on precision and timing, Roethlisberger and the Steelers passing offense play more of a sandlot style. He often uses his tremendous size to shake off would be sackers, and his ample mobility to extend plays. Also, it is rumored that he is in the best shape of his career. Another factor is Roethlisberger has really felt wounded by the allegations he’s charged with, so it is likely he’ll be anxious to get back on the field and let the Pittsburgh fans remember why they fell in love with him to begin with, because he can flat play football. Expect Big Ben to hit the ground running Sunday.
This one looks like a mismatch all the way. Hopefully the Browns will take a good long look at the Steelers and the type of franchise they are, because it is exactly what the Browns should be aiming to become. The Steelers are the epitome of their name a perfect reflection of their city. Year after year the Steelers have developed a reputation as being a rock solid, no nonsense organization that scouts and drafts exceptionally well, is well coached and plays hard nose football. The type of football the Browns have shown flashes this year, and the type of football the Cleveland faithful loves and wants to see a whole lot more of.
About the Author
Written by Fran Berkman
Francis (Fran) Berkman is a graduate of Cornell University in Ithaca, NY with a BS in Human Development. He is currently working towards a master's degree in journalism at Hofstra University. He lives in Massapequa, NY.