The Browns entered Heinz Field on Thursday and did exactly what they wanted, give the Steelers a run a for their money.
With the temperatures hovering around 30 degrees in the Steel city, Cleveland looked to win their first game at Heinz Field in 8 years, but they needed to play one hell of a game. Pat Shurmur led his 4-8 squad into Pittsburgh looking to avenge 2 straight losses and to get Colt McCoy his first career AFC North victory. Of course things didn’t roll the right way at the end, but I like to think moral victories count for something other than the Win/Loss column.
Cleveland seemed to dissect Pittsburgh’s defense on the first drive of the game traveling all the way down to the field, but unfortunately settling for a field goal (like always). Before the field goal McCoy ran up the middle from the pocket and dove for the endzone, the first call was that McCoy scored, but further review showed him down inside the 1 yard line. I completely disagree with the call because McCoy dove head first, not giving himself up and the referees focused on his elbow hitting before the endzone. They did not notice that Colt was never touched before he slid into the endzone, therefore the call should have stood as a touchdown. I also disagree with Shurmur’s call to kick the field goal instead of trying to punch it in for 6, I mean serioously? Take some chances already Pat, I do like you.
Showing signs of life early in the game have been a plus for Cleveland in the last few games, but that has resulted in a poor second half offense. If Shurmur decided to open up the offense and spread the field a little, I believe Cleveland would be more effective, but of course he remains conservative even though we have nothing to lose at this point in the season.
Pittsburgh responded with an 11 yard TD pass from Roethlisberger to Cotchery (doesn’t hurt my fantasy team) to take the lead to 7-3 as the Browns defense looked a little hesitant on filling the holes allowing for Pittsburgh’s running game to develop. After the TD pass, another point was not scored til’ late in the 4th quarter, but many more headlines came before.
The game turned into a sloppy one with 3 turnovers on 5 plays, started by a fumble by Hines Ward with Pittsburgh threatening advancing into the redzone if Ward did not fumble. The momentum seemed to swing towards the Browns, but McCoy made a poor decision throwing into Polamalu territory giving Pittsburgh the ball back on Cleveland’s side of the field. But, the fumbilitis continued as Haden knocked the ball from Heath Miller on the next play giving the Brown’s the ball back. Yet, these turnovers resulted in no points keeping the game 7-3.
Towards the last 5 minutes of the first half, Roethlisberger was squashed by Browns player Scott Paxson and Big Ben’s left ankle took a turn for the worse. It seemed as if the Steeler’s season had vanished and Ben had just broken his leg, barely being able to walk as he grimaced off the field. Yet, the warrior that he is, Roethlisberger returned even with his team in the lead for the second half. Barely being able to handoff the football, Big Ben continued to move around the pocket on a bad ankle showing he is the toughest QB in the NFL.
At the beginning of the 4th Pittsburgh moved the ball to Cleveland’s 1 yard line, a couple runs up the middle by Mendenhall were stopped short, but the Steelers brought out the offense for fourth down. Once again the Browns D stood tall stopping Mendenhall again forcing a turnover on downs. With a hurt Roethlisberger and a tough team out of Cleveland, Thursday Night football was in for a good finish.
At around Cleveland’s forty yard line, Roethlisberger stepped up in the pocket and took a shot deep and to the left, but safety Mike Adams was there to jump the read and intercept the pass putting life into Cleveland fan’s around the country. McCoy led the offense to the other side of the 50 eyeing a touchdown to take lead. On a 2nd and 5, Colt stepped up into the pocket floating to the left about a yard before the line of scrimmage and dumped it off to Hardesty for 5 yards. After the pass McCoy was hit square in the mouth on a late hit by James Harrison who is clearly out there to take out players (mostly Cleveland ones). Colt laid motionless on the ground for a few minutes before he was taken off the field with Seneca Wallace coming in to sit under center.
Wallace stepped up to complete a pass to Evan Moore to bring the Browns to Pitt’s 5 yard line to try to take lead. A questionable decision was then made by Cleveland’s coaching staff to bring McCoy back into the game. In my eyes Colt looked completely out of it and Shurmur should be protecting his QB and Wallace is a solid backup. On the next play McCoy was flagged for intentional grounding bringing the ball back to the 15 squashing some momentum. Then on 3rd down McCoy threw off his back foot to the left corner of the endzone, looking for Massaquoi, but William Gay made a great play on the ball picking it off ending the Brown’s chances.
To top it off Roethlisberger then threw a 79 yard TD pass to Antonio Brown to close out the game and take the victory at Heinz field over the rival Cleveland Browns.
Not being able to win that game was painful and many questionable decisions may have decided it. I will always root for Cleveland and I hope we can stick it those Steelers in Week 17, but as for this prime-time game we came out just short in a game where all of the fan’s wanted a victory.
There are 3 games left in the season with Cleveland at 4-9, but my Christmas wish is a gift in April:
His name is Justin Blackmon.
About the Author
Written by Corey Rioux
A wise man once told me, "Sports are modern-day mythology." I tend to disagree. Proper grammar is optional. You can read my columns here: http://www.prosportsblogging.com/author/c_rioux23/ You can follow me on twitter at: @CoreyRioux You can contact me via email at: firstname.lastname@example.org