Post-Game Analysis: Pittsburgh 27 – Cleveland 14
Ben Roethlisberger was 23 of 35 for 417 yards and two touchdowns and the Pittsburgh Steelers (4-2) amassed 543 total yards of offense en route to a 27-14 win over the Cleveland Browns Sunday afternoon at Heinz Field.
Roethlisberger was spectacular throwing an NFL high in yards and tied Steelers hall of fame quarterback Terry Bradshaw for 31 career games with a 100.0 quarterback rating or higher.
The 417 yard performance was Roethlisberger’s second 400 yard game in his career. The star quarterback improved his record to 10-0 against Cleveland and Pittsburgh has now won 12 straight against the Browns.
Roethlisberger’s top two targets on the afternoon were Santonio Holmes and Hines Ward. Ward led the Steelers with 8 receptions for 159 yards and one touchdown while Holmes posted his first 100 yard game since week 1, hauling in 5 receptions for 104 yards. Tight end Heath Miller added 5 receptions for 80 yards and one touchdown.
The Steelers had 11 plays of 20 yards or more.
Rashard Mendenhall rushed for 65 yards on 17 carries and had a 2 yard touchdown run in the third quarter.
Running back Willie Parker appeared in his first game since week 3 rushing for 26 yards on 7 carries. Parker though did not see the field in the 4th quarter after fumbling in the 3rd quarter at Cleveland’s 21 yard line. In fact, Pittsburgh was able to overcome three turnovers in the 3rd quarter that included fumbles from Parker, Mendenhall and a Roethlisberger interception.
Through the first six weeks of the season, the Steelers have shown that they are clearly a passing team first with Roethlisberger at the helm. But, the play calling thus far still doesn’t have everyone happy.
During the pre-game warmups Bob Holtzman of ESPN reported that a starting offensive lineman told him the O-Line is not happy about the Steelers going away from the run and members of the O-Line are very close to going to the coaching staff about the need to run the ball more.
Whoever is irked by the lack of running plays better get on board because regardless of how well the running game does, the coaching staff is moving to a 60/40 pass-to-run ratio.
Five Post-Game Observations
1. Polamalu makes his presence felt: Troy Polamalu returned to the lineup for the first time since week 1 and he made his presence felt early.
Polamalu intercepted Derek Anderson in the 2nd quarter but Polamalu is clearly not 100%. On the play he hurt his injured knee but remained in the game. This is going to be something that’s going to bother him for a few more weeks.
He did appear to be shying away at times in running situations. He wasn’t as aggressive which was expected.
2. Timmons emerging as a star: Lawrence Timmons has 12 tackles in his past two games including 5 tackles today, two sacks and two forced fumbles. He might be the most athletic middle linebacker in the game.
Timmons is getting more comfortable on a weekly basis and his progression is going to be a joy to watch this season.
3. Ward on pace for career year: Hines Ward had another dominant game leading the Steelers with 8 receptions for 159 yards and one touchdown. He also had a touchdown reception called back that was questionable. Ward is showing no signs of slowing down.
4. Steelers trust Mewelde Moore late in games: With a need to run down the clock and the ball on their goal line, the Steelers turned to Mewelde Moore not Rashard Mendenhall or Willie Parker this afternoon. Mendenhall and Parker eached fumbled in the 4th quarter.
5. Mendenhall has a knack for the endzone: Rashard Mendenhall did not have a spectacular game but he has clearly upgraded the Steelers running game inside the redzone.
Mendenhall scored his 4th touchdown in three games this afternoon and while he hasn’t been going up against any dominating defenses to this point, the Steelers struggled to run the ball at the goal line last year against just about everybody.
Another under-rated part of Mendenhall’s game is his blocking ability. Did very well again today.
Ravens, Bengals each lose
*The Baltimore Ravens lost their third straight game in thrilling fashion this afternoon in Minnesota. Baltimore scored 21 4th quarter points but down 33-31 with two seconds left, the Ravens missed a field goal to fall to 3-3 on the season.
* Winners of four straight, the Bengals were due for a let down game and that happened today as the Houston Texans beat the Bengals 28-17 in Cincinnati. The Bengals are now 4-2.
Offensive Game Ball
*QB Ben Roethlisberger: 23/35 – 417 yards – 2 TD – 1 INT
Defensive Game Ball
*LB Lawrence Timmons: 5 tackles – 2 sacks – 2 forced fumbles