Steelers – Browns Fallout
What I witnessed Thursday night might have been the most arrogant, cockiest 3-6 football team I’ve ever seen in the Cleveland Browns. You would have thought the Steelers were going up against a 9-0 football team destined for the Super Bowl.
For the Browns part, the better team on the field on this specific night got the ‘W’. They set the tempo on the first drive of the game and legally/illegally physically punished the Steelers. But, everything about the Browns actions and performance Thursday night showed why they are now just a 4-6 football team instead of being a 7-3 team and right on the Ravens tail for the division lead.
They’re a badly coached team with a bunch of maniacs on the field who think they are better than they are that kept Pittsburgh in the game with 8 penalties for 121 yards. They’re always going to find ways to shoot themselves in the foot.
The Myles Garrett physical assault on Mason Rudolph that deserves a record long suspension, was an exclamation point on while the Browns got a season saving win, this talented group is going nowhere this season.
What Garrett did was despicable and the hammer has to be thrown at him. It’s very hard to see the NFL in this climate dropping the ball and not suspending Garrett into next season. The rest of this season just isn’t enough. It has to start in the 12-16 game range and you won’t find a homer view at any point from this outlet.
While the Browns were saying all the right things after the game of how Garrett’s actions were embarrassing, also intriguing will be when video surfaces of the cheering on the sidelines many Browns players were apparently doing after Garrett struck Rudolph in the head.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE STEELERS HAS LONG-TERM CONCERNS
At 3-4 when the Steelers entered a three game stretch against the Colts, Rams and Browns, to stay relevant they had come out of this winning two of three games and they accomplished that by nabbing home wins against the Colts and Rams, which toned down the pressure to have to get a win in Cleveland.
That’s the good as the Steelers sit at 5-5 and remain relevant in the wildcard chase with six games to go.
The bad is what’s developing with Mason Rudolph.
Lack of options, injuries, blah, blah, blah. He’s just not a good quarterback and the heir apparent talk to Ben Roethlisberger has to end. There’s enough of a sample already and these coaches see Rudolph in practice every day. When you know, you know. They know the ceiling is not a legitimate No. 1 starter down the road. A good No. 2 yes, who will have his moments and can keep you competitive when you have a defense like you do, but nothing else.
While the schedule is very favorable the rest of the way to at least get to 9-7, other than the Bengals matchup, Pittsburgh will have the weaker quarterback against five of their remaining six opponents. That can’t be overlooked.
Rudolph’s performance vs the Browns felt like a season ender in some respects, but the schedule and how good this defense is will keep the Steelers in contention. That’s a lock which makes the final six games exciting.
But, there’s been some eye-popping moments the last two weeks for Rudolph under center.
The lack of feel in the pocket has been very discerning and the lack of placement on throws 15+ yards really tells the story. He’s constantly throwing to the inside in 1-on-1 situations. The little things stand out in such a negative way, that while it won’t happen, opening up a QB competition in practice isn’t crazy talk like some are suggesting.
This offensive staff might be frustrating with how they call and manage a game, but sometimes you can’t overlook what they’re also working with.
— The Pittsburgh Steelers defense did not have their ‘A game’ by any means, but in the second half, they gave Pittsburgh’s offense chance after chance to try to change momentum in the game.
Pittsburgh held Baker Mayfield to 193 yards passing but Mayfield didn’t turn the ball over and rose to the occasion in spots. The biggest development in swaying this game was Mayfield showing great instincts in quickly avoiding Pittsburgh’s vaunted pass rush on the outside. He came in with a plan to step up into the pocket that saw Pittsburgh sack him just once when there were opportunities for a 4-5 sack day.
Credit to Mayfield and in the 4th quarter he iced the game with a perfectly placed TD strike when Mark Barron doing Mark Barron things in having his back turned to the ball.
As outplayed as the Steelers seemed to be in this one, the quarterback on the other side was just that much better even if the stat sheet might not scream a great game for Mayfield.
— 3/12 on third down and 0/3 on fourth down will often see you on the losing side of things. A key swing in the game, though, that could have tilted things to Pittsburgh was late 3rd quarter/early 4th quarter.
Pittsburgh in the middle of the third cuts Cleveland’s lead to 14-7, the Browns then follow things up with a missed field.
Pittsburgh has a 3rd and 1 at the Cleveland 32 and play the low percentage game in trying to hit Johnny Holton in the end zone for a deep pass. Next they get stopped on 4th down. That early in the 4th, it should have been a situation where the mentality was to play for the field goal when it goes to the third down call. Even if your mind is made up you’re going to go for it on 4th down, which was the right call at the 32 yard line, take the short-yardage play on third down to keep moving the chains instead of the low percentage shot to the worst receiver on your team. You didn’t need a touchdown that drive.
That was a frustrating sequence not to even get a field goal out of the drive as Pittsburgh’s D had solved the Browns offense in the second half. They gave the offense chance after chance. Want the Full Story? Get "Inside Access"