Some things are inevitable. The winter is cold, water is wet, and the Pittsburgh Steelers defeat the Cleveland Browns.
The Steelers are struggling through a disappointing season, but they still managed to come to First Energy Stadium and paste the Browns, 27-11, ending the home team’s playoffs chances in more way than one.
The black and yellow squad also knocked out QB Jason Campbell with a head injury, meaning it’s back to Brandon Weeden, which is just another reason Rob Chudzinski’s team will once again not advance past 16 games.
At the bye week, several media people (and we agreed) said the Browns’ front office needed to bring in a running back and another quarterback seeing the alternative if something did happen to Campbell was Weeden. They failed to do either move, and now will watch Weeden once again prove to everyone he is not an NFL starting quarterback, probably for the next couple of games.
Pittsburgh had one of the league’s worst rushing defenses, yet the Browns could not exploit it, gaining only 55 yards rushing in 16 attempts.
The coaching staff will say the score dictated the passing game, but Cleveland came out and ran only five times in the first quarter (gaining 17 yards) on a cold and blustery day downtown.
When Chris Ogbonnaya ran for 10 yards on his first carry of the second quarter (the Browns’ first play of the quarter), it gave him two carries for 15 yards. He was given the ball just twice the rest of the game.
Of course, it didn’t help that on his next carry, he gained eight yards and moved into Steelers’ territory, but coughed up the ball for the second consecutive week. Pittsburgh turned the turnover into three points and a 13-3 lead going into the half.
Starting the second half, the Browns’ held on the 4th and 1, and starting marching into Pittsburgh territory to get back in the game, but that’s when Campbell was knocked out with a blow to the head (no penalty, either thanks to the great NFL officiating crew), resulting in a fumble and a return to the Browns’ four yard line, where the visitors promptly scored and ended the game for all intent and purposes.
From then on, it was a Chudzinski/Turner passing show, with Weeden throwing 29 times in the last quarter and a half, completing only 13 and throwing in a pick six by William Gay to top off another dismal performance.
The game story going in was the pressure the Browns’ defense had been putting on quarterbacks, but they registered no sack on Ben Roethlisberger today, while Cleveland passers were sacked five times and one was knocked out of the game.
Still, with 17 of the Steelers’ points coming as a result of turnovers by the offense, it is tough to blame Ray Horton’s unit. They actually pitched a shutout in the second half.
The defeat wasted a record-setting performance by WR Josh Gordon, who caught 14 throws for a team record 237 yards and a touchdown. Gordon continues to impress, despite people who want to constantly bring up any negative they can find about the second year wideout.
Over the years, we have maintained to be successful in the NFL, you have to run the ball, and you have to stop the run. The Cleveland Browns have mastered the latter, but they will continue to struggle until to do the former. And to do that, they must make a commitment to the running game, even though it’s a passing league.
Today’s defeat means it is time to start looking at 2014. However, if Brandon Weeden has to start most of the games remaining. Even the evaluation process will be difficult.