April 23, 2014

Browns push past hobbled Steelers 20-14

So how do you feel about the Browns beating the Steelers? It certainly feels better than the alternative. The Browns defense was dominant against a non-quarterback in Charlie Batch, but they also crushed the entire corps of Steeler running backs. Four fumbles lost and five if you count the one that happened on the last “razzle dazzle” attempt by the Steelers. In all the Browns won the turnover battle either seven or eight to one depending on that last one. Even given all that, a relatively healthy Browns team could only muster a 20-14 victory at home, but it was a victory over the Steelers. Yes, it was Charlie Batch, but nobody ever thought twice when the Steelers beat up banged up Browns underdogs over the years.

No, this wasn’t one of those real feel-good wins. This was more like the wins of a year ago where the Browns beat up on really bad teams with really bad quarterbacks. Although maybe it’s a bit better than that because the Browns did beat plenty of otherwise reputable running backs with a hard-nosed attitude and an ability to really stack the box and dare Charlie Batch to beat them with his duck-delivering arm.

The Cleveland Browns dominated the first half and still managed to come out trailing 14-13. The Browns defense forced three fumbles by three different Steelers running backs. The Browns led in both passing and rushing yards to lead total yards 142-122. The Browns had three red zone trips compared to the Steelers’ one. The problem? The Browns were only 1-3. Additionally, when the Browns turned the ball over, it was a pick six by Weeden to Lawrence Timmons for 53 yards.

Charlie Batch, the Steelers’ third stringer had a 69.3 rating in the first half and Brandon Weeden barely beat him with a 69.8 on 9/16 passing. The Browns just couldn’t take advantage of the plentiful opportunities provided by the Browns’ defense. Yes, the Browns D gave up a disappointing TD drive to end the first half, but on the whole they won the first half for the offense, but the offense couldn’t capitalize enough.

In the second half the Browns finally capitalized on a short field on a three play, 31-yard drive that ended with Trent Richardson scampering 15 yards up the middle for a TD. That scoring drive was set up by Sheldon Brown jumping an out route by Charlie Batch at the Steeler 32 yard line. The Browns defense shut the Steelers out the rest of the way and the Browns take it 20-14.

We’ll get into this game more during the week, but it’s the ultimate in mixed emotions. The Browns won and beat the Steelers so that is never ever a bad thing. Even still, considering how dominant they were in the box score, it is at least notable, if not disconcerting, that they didn’t win this one by at least two scores.

But they beat Pittsburgh!

———–

Other notes.

  • Brandon Weeden left the game after hitting his head on someone’s knee late in the game. Over two drives, Colt McCoy handed the ball off and that was it. No throws for McCoy.
  • The penalties were crazy in terms of frequency.  The two teams combined for 19 penalties and 158 yards.
  • The Browns were very fortunate that a Trent Richardson fumble was missed and the Steelers had no timeouts left to challenge it.
  • Overall the referees seemed pretty intent on being part of the storyline all game long. Not good.

(AP Photo – Tony Dejak)

  • Henry Brown

    Are you freaking kidding me? Are Browns fans ever just happy? We are a 3 win team that craps away almost every game in heart-breaking fashion and almost did this one too if the refs had seen TR’s fumble and it wasn’t the right side of the 2 minute warning. That’s the sort of stuff that we always complain about going the wrong way for us, then when it does go our way you still have mixed feelings? This isn’t the NCAA, almost every NFL game is tight.

  • http://www.waitingfornextyear.com Craig Lyndall

    I’m elated they won. Still, it’s important to be realistic about where this 3-win team is in terms of progress overall. But make no mistake. I love love love the win and the defense today.

  • Jwaggys

    ^ get real!

  • Jwaggys

    If you have a warm and fuzzy feeling over this victory you just flat out are not a very astute fan!

  • mike

    They were saying onthe radio thattherefs ruled forward progress and that is not reviewable

  • Henry Brown

    Really now? A team where almost every key offensive starter is a rookie going against the #1 defense in the league to which rookie QBs never win puts up 20 points and a win. Our defense abused their offense and held their “great” running backs to a combined 49 yards, if you aren’t happy about that you’re not just not a very astute fan, you’re also a complete tool.

  • Henry Brown

    Well I’m glad, but you have to consider just winning to be progress.

  • Jaker

    This was a game that the Browns usually find a way to lose. Whether Pittsburgh wouldn’t allow them to lose or Cleveland finally took advantage of a great defensive game doesn’t matter. Craig is right, beating the Steelers is a GREAT thing. Yes, I would have rather beaten Big Ben and put together a great offensive game with clutch plays down the stretch, but this one counts just as much. People talk about how they would rather have Jarvis Jones than this win, but to those i say “You play to win the game”. Yes I would like a high pick, but I hate seeing all those stupid stats on how bad the Browns are and how we never beat our rivals anymore. Here’s a stat for everyone, Brandon Weeden has never lost to Pittsburgh!!!

    Look, let’s not worry about draft position. We have months to talk about that. And if thres a guy we want bad nough, we will o up and get him. Instead, lets all enjoy a Victory over our biggest Rival, which unfortunately doesn’t come too often.

    GO Browns

  • Dave

    Let’s go Browns! I’m pumped the defense looked that strong, Pittsburg kept benching running backs because of our defense. That doesn’t happen. The offense was choppy at best and predictable in fourth quarter but with Shurmur calling plays that’s going to happen. He’s not very smart, remember.

    Any update on Weeden? Not having a QB controversy was a welcome part of the season.

  • SDA

    Wanna know what absolutely loved about this game? The fact that for the first time in forever our team handed out the punishment!!! Our defense hit them hard every chance they got. That my friends is what the Browns should be all about.

  • Grif_E

    Seeing the Browns on the opposite side of a desperation play, and particularly against the Steelers was quite satisfying. Even more so than the victory formation from earlier in the season.

  • http://twitter.com/bbo13 B-bo

    If that win comes against any other team short of Baltimore, I’d be lamenting Weeden’s poor play throughout, Lauvao’s multiple penalties, Sheldon Brown being Sheldon Brown, and yet another collapse at the end of a first half. But this is a win–an ugly win–against a team I despise on a deep and fundamental level. We beat the steelers. Let’s enjoy this for a minute, and worry about the flaws later. Trust me, they’ll still be there.

  • Dee P

    1. I am happy for the win – don’t care how – I enjoy them….I’d be sick right now if they had lost, so to be fair and sane – you have to feel great that they won.

    2. I love Richardson….but….he had 29 carries today and Hardesty had 3. I am not saying Richardson shouldn’t be the bell cow….but out of 32 total carries I’d like the split to be more like 20-12 Richardson to Hardesty, or 18-14. I think the different styles of bruiser (Richardson) and quick hitter (Hardesty) would do wonders for the offense. I’d also entertain the idea of Richardson lining up at fullback with Hardesty as halfback. A handoff to Richardson from the FB spot gets him to the line quicker and can use his battering ram style to hit defenders before they hit him, and the defense would have to be ready for Richardson or Hardesty….they wouldn’t know. I know this is a pipe dream, but I think it holds water in theory.

    3. I have been a Weeden supporter from day 1….but even I am getting bad vibes recently of his “gun shyness” and overall lack of taking the next step. The optimist side of me says it is just the wall that rookies hit in the second half of the season. The pessimist side of me says the doubters were right, and he isn’t a franchise type QB. I feel pulled in both directions.

    4. Defense played great. JMJ and Robertson have been great at LB recently, and when you add Gocong back next year with DQ, you HAVE to address the CB2 spot opposite Haden in the first round. We are on verge of having dominant D and that move would do it.

    5. Oakland, KC and Jax coming up. Would it surprise anyone to be 6-8 going into the last home game vs. RGIII?

  • Dee P

    Great point. The Steelers were beat down physically on offense today. We left our mark for sure, and they will remember this week who they played as they recover from those hits. It was great to see.

  • Ezzie Goldish

    Just @Oak and vs. KC. They could be 5-8, play WAS and if they win be 6-8. No way they go to Denver and win, but I wouldn’t mind beating PIT again to keep them out of the playoffs in the last week…

  • SDA

    I seriously got tired of seeing our players getting carted off the field in past years. This was a nice change

  • Henry Brown

    It was actually really smart to power down late in the game, the only way the Steelers were going to score is if we handed them a turnover

  • Dee P

    Not sure where I got Jax from…..must be habit.

  • WFNY_DP

    “No, this wasn’t one of those real feel-good wins.”

    Disagree. Any win over the Steelers makes me feel good.

  • WFNY_DP

    I agree on the Richardson/Hardesty thing. Hardesty came in and HIT THE HOLE each play. I don’t think Hardesty should be getting more than 10-12 carries, but 3 carries is too few, especially when he was hitting big gainers.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jeremy-Humbert/100001904340553 Jeremy Humbert

    Right… How many times has our starting QB for the given year played the steelers.. There is always some 2nd or 3rd option playing QB by the time these teams meet, and the pundits just talk about how great they are, and how terrible the Browns are… At the end of the year, we can look at the schedule and see the W next to this game and smile, because we didn’t lose… doesn’t matter how it was won, just that it wasn’t a loss…
    The fans of the Browns hae trouble being happy with a win…But this one will sink in… And the pundits will have to take notice when we rattle off a couple more in a row..

  • MallaLubba

    The reality is that the Browns did not win this game. They avoided loosing the game. With 8 turnovers, any competent team would have been pulling the starters sometime in the 4th quarter due to a complete blowout. The fact that it was close is not because every NFL game is tight.
    The other reality is that Browns fans should not just “be happy” because we got a W. I am not interested in being satisfied with a win. I want to see team that is capable of domination. It’s a team that has those traits which will have the ability to win a championship. That should be the goal.

  • mgbode

    warm and fuzzy inside and I didn’t have any Jack Daniel’s, so I know it was the win

  • mgbode

    “The reality is that the Browns did not win this game.”

    man, it looks like the NFL got it wrong in the standings. you might want to go and correct them because they gave the Browns +1 in the win column.

    “With 8 turnovers, any competent team would have been pulling the
    starters sometime in the 4th quarter due to a complete blowout.”

    and with 2 pick-6′s, while holding a team to 2.8YPC on the ground and getting 5sacks and only giving up 267yds passing, any competent team would be pulling the starters sometime in the 4th quarter due to a complete blowout. I guess we should just write-off the 49ers.

    football is a funny sport. sometimes it just doesn’t work out the way you would think it would. however, the team that plays better usually does win (also see ND barely over USC despite dominating the field of play for the most part or a lesser example with OSU over UM as well for further examples this past weekend).

    I swear some people just don’t want to be happy about Cleveland sports.

  • mgbode

    Hardesty has looked fantastic lately. He has earned more carries.

  • mgbode

    I am proud to not be a very astute fan in your eyes. it was Pitt and we won. don’t try to take my warm fuzzies away like the Browns with the white flag promotion.

  • mgbode

    we have to hope that Denver is locked into the #3 seed by week16. it is actually quite possible if NE gets a game ahead (they have the tiebreaker as they beat Denver this year).

  • Dee P

    and again….not knocking Richardson….but I’d also LOVE to see Hardesty on some these passes in the flat. The ones where Richardson needs to beat a defender 1-on-1 to gain some yardage. I can see Hardesty blowing by this guy and picking up large chunks.

  • bcoop5881

    There were many flaws with the Browns today but it was a win, and obviously that is the point of it all. So I’ll enjoy the win because most times a winning culture begins with an ugly win rather than going from incompetent to dominant in a flash.
    Slumps usually end with a broken bat single. Hot shooting sometimes starts with hitting a layup. Connecting passes sometimes starts with hitting the check downs and screens. So the Browns need to start winning, no matter how ugly, to get on a roll.

  • MallaLubba

    I think you know what I meant. I appreciate the sarcastic disassembling of the intent of my statement but I’m sure you know the differences between the analysis.

    Also, I don’t follow your comparison with your reference to the 49ers. From what I’m reading, you’re either completely reinforcing my point or not even drawing a similarity depending on which angle you’re trying to take. I’m not sure if this is some kind of double reverse sarcasm or not.

    And, yes, all sports are funny sometimes and just don’t work out the way you think they should. I’m not saying that the Browns weren’t better on this day in this moment. I’m saying that we should expect them to be much better overall everyday.

    I felt it needed repeating:
    “The other reality is that Browns fans should not just “be happy” because we got a W. I am not interested in being satisfied with a win. I want to see team that is capable of domination. It’s a team that has those traits which will have the ability to win a championship. That should be the goal.”

    If you want to be happy about this win, that’s fine. But, don’t criticize anyone else for wanting much more than hobbling past an obviously horrible performance from a depleted opponent.

    I, for one, am not one dimensional (and I know that most people aren’t). I do have the ability to be pleased to get a win and not be interested in being happy overall in light of what still needs to happen.