Pittsburgh’s 33-18 win over the Cleveland Browns Sunday afternoon was the James Conner show.
Conner gashed the Browns for 146 yards and 2 touchdowns on the ground, while totaling 212 yards from scrimmage in the victory.
Similar to the Cincinnati game, the Steelers dominated in the trenches as Conner flat out wore down the Browns over the 3rd and 4th quarters.
Sports can always act as a great healer. For a city that was and will be mourning Saturday’s tragedy for quite a long time, Sunday’s performance was special in that it was Conner who played such a big part in the Steelers victory.
Conner was Bettis like in bruising his way in-between the tackles and racking up yards after contact.
As “Conner, Conner, Conner” chants rang through Heinz Field on Sunday and have even extended to Ben Roethlisberger’s home as the QB noted on his weekly radio show (937 The Fan, 11:00 a.m. on Tuesday’s) one thing that can’t get overlooked with Conner’s emergence this season, not just as an adequate replacement for Le’Veon Bell but as an impact player is that character matters in being able to get back to a Super Bowl.
The Steelers had a ton of it during the Hines Ward era. They now have a lot of knuckleheads who are ‘me, me’, me’ players, showing up to walk-throughs late before playoff games (Hello Le’Veon Bell), while dysfunction follows them off the field like with Antonio Brown.
This stuff matters when you come up short so often like the Steelers have the last couple years, despite having rosters talented enough to win a Super Bowl.
The Steelers have needed more players like Conner with his type of character emerge at impact positions and it’s been a needed development.
Problem is, Le’Veon Bell is likely to be making his presence felt soon in that building…..
While Mike Tomlin is said to be heavily in favor of getting Le’Veon Bell back in the fold and believes he can handle any situation, the front office has been pushing to move on.
Unfortunately for the Steelers, Bell and his agent Adisa Bakari have held the Steelers hostage from doing that.
Pittsburgh’s front office over the last week had been so motivated to move on from Bell that they were prepared to accept Want the Full Story? Get "Inside Access"
Those upstairs have great concerns that when Bell returns it will wipe out a lot of what the Steelers are building from a character standpoint and the growing consensus seems to be that when Le’Veon Bell is fully ready go, Conner is going to be on the bench.
Kevin Colbert and Co tried to make that decision for the coaching staff.
Word is Pittsburgh informing the Bell camp last week that his failure to accept a trade would lead to him going on the 2-week exempt list when he reports has led Want the Full Story? Get "Inside Access"
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— One under-the-radar position the Steelers checked into.
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On the cusp of Hue Jackson’s firing, there will be no expanded role for Todd Haley in Cleveland.
In fact, there will be no role for Haley in Cleveland.
Haley is out as offensive coordinator and has been fired, the NFL network reports.
What’s next for Haley?
It’s hard to see him getting another shot as an offensive coordinator anytime soon.
His stock is going to be as low as it can get around the league.
Among the primary reasons is that Haley is an extremely tough person to work with for coaches and only stayed around in Pittsburgh as long as he did because of the Rooney’s.
What We Learned: Steelers – Bengals
AFC NORTH STANDINGS
1. Cincinnati Bengals (4-2)
2. Baltimore Ravens (4-2)
3. Pittsburgh Steelers (3-2-1)
4. Cleveland Browns (2-3-1)
What a way for the Steelers to go into their bye week.
Antonio Brown’s 31 yard touchdown catch with 10 seconds left delivered a 28-21 come from behind win over the Cincinnati Bengals.
Cincinnati was oh so close from going to 5-1 while the Steelers were on the cusp of falling to 2-3-1 after six games.
What we learned from the Steelers in this win is the team starting to develop an identity in winning from the trenches.
James Conner was balling again with 111 yards and 2 touchdowns, while the Steelers offensive line starred in the running game and protecting Big Ben who was not sacked.
Randy Fichtner showed a lot of rookie mistakes in the early goings but he’s starting to find the right mesh for this offense.
After the Ravens game, Fichtner was adamant that James Conner being non-factor in weeks 3-4 was all on his playcalling and has been determined to get Conner more involved and the Steelers are reaping the benefits because when this O-line is on like it’s been the last two games, it’s one of the best in the league.
Now in the short-term, does Le’Veon Bell mess up all this momentum Conner has going?
While Bell told ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler a few weeks ago he plans to report this week (Gerry Dulac of PG reported Sunday evening the Steelers have yet to hear from Bell), there are core players in that room who don’t want Bell back. It starts with the quarterback and that says something when Roethlisberger is at the age he is where winning another Super Bowl is the only goal.
Roethlisberger threw some clear shad at Bell after the Bengals game.
“He was a bowling ball today,” he was all over the place,” Roethlisberger said of Conner.
Then Roethlisberger said with a straight face……”I know it’s his last game for us because Le’Veon’s coming back, but I thought he did well in his last one”.
This was Ben clearly saying Conner is our guy and I don’t give a damn about Le’Veon.
Conner’s success has also showed why you don’t give a running back even as good as Bell $15-$16 million a season, let alone $10 million a season. Who you have at quarterback is what matters and there are always James Conner, Rashard Mendenhall types out there.
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