TUESDAY BUZZ COLUMN
Here’s hoping the Browns get it right this time.
I know. If you are a life-long Pittsburgher and/or Steelers fan, you’re supposed to enjoy the mistake and the misery on the lake that the Browns have been since they left for Baltimore in 1995.
But I’ve been around long enough to know what it was like when the Browns were the Steelers biggest rival. I even remember when the Steelers couldn’t beat them.
As I’m sure you know by now, the Browns fired another coach and general manager Sunday after their loss to the Steelers.
And I know you’re much more concerned about what the Steelers are going to do in Cincinnati on Saturday, but the Browns stinking for 16 of the 18 seasons since they were reborn as an expansion franchise has not made football more fun for Steelers fans.
I covered the Steelers road games for a long time and went to every NFL stadium in America. I always enjoyed the trips to Municipal Stadium in Cleveland the most.
Especially if it was snowing.
They put 83,000 in that dump. It was also the Indians’ stadium, which meant there was always a chance for mud on the skinned portion of the field.
Browns fans were every bit as passionate and loud as Steelers fans. Actually they were louder because there were 25,000 more of them.
Sunday’s game was just another boring win in front of a lot of pissed off fans and empty seats.
Ben Roethlisberger is 18-2 against that pathetic organization.
Imagine how much better it would have been if both teams were 10-5 with one team moving on to the playoffs and the other’s season being over.
With some blowing snow mixed in.
The Steelers have a tremendous rivalry with the Ravens with lots of history and plenty of hate, but Steelers fans and Ravens fans don’t share a turnpike.
And there was something about the stadium sitting on angry looking Lake Erie, with the ever present possibility of lake effect snow that made Steelers-Browns games special.
But it takes two good teams to make a good rivalry and the Browns are a long, long way from that right now.
A generation of Steelers fans that loves to hate the Ravens has missed out on what was and still could be an even better rivalry if the Browns could only get their act together.
Don’t count on it happening any time soon.
NO LE’VEON BELL IN PASSING GAME, LESS HIGH PERCENTAGE PASSES FOR BEN
–The Steelers continue to get lucky with quarterbacks. As I write this, it’s looking like they’re going to get A.J. McCarron in Cincinnati on Saturday.
And if they do get Andy Dalton, they’ll be getting him with a sore thumb after a long layoff.
Nobody has benefitted more from the second and third rate quarterbacks the Steelers have faced than Ben Roethlisberger. He has thrown some ugly interceptions the last three weeks and having a bunch of quarterbacks named Austin Davis taking over possession of the ball has made most of them inconsequential.
Roethlisberger has seven interceptions and six touchdown passes in his last four games.
Aaron Rodgers, who has been running for his life behind a bad offensive line for several games, has a total of eight interceptions all season.
He has 31 touchdown passes.
Steelers fans are insulted when Roethlisberger isn’t mentioned as one of the top four or five quarterbacks in the league, but you’re not going to be mentioned with that group when you have 21 touchdowns and 16 interceptions.
Roethlisberger has one of the highest interception percentages in the league and Le’ Veon Bell being out since Game 6 could be the reason.
The offense hasn’t missed much in total production with DeAngelo Williams at running back, but it’s decreased the number of high percentage passes for Roethlisberger to throw.
Bell caught 83 passes last season.
You could have completed three quarters of them.
Williams only has 40 catches, which means that Roethlisberger is throwing more passes into traffic and fewer swings and screens to a wide open running back.
With the way the Steelers defense has been playing, not turning the ball over becomes more important than ever.
Especially if they’re turning it over to a real first string NFL quarterback.
At this writing Williams would appear questionable at best for the Bengals on Saturday with a foot injury. With the way Roethlisberger has been coughing it up and the ineptitude of the Steelers defense, this is not a good time for the Steelers to be going into a shootout.