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!
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)