Posted December 26, 2012 on
AP on Fox
The Pittsburgh Steelers are in unfamiliar territory under coach Mike Tomlin: eliminated from postseason contention. The Cleveland Browns have become too accustomed to missing out on the playoffs, and mass changes in the organization could be on the way as a result.
On Sunday the Steelers will host the Browns, with Cleveland looking for its first season sweep of the series since 1988.
Pittsburgh (7-8) will miss the playoffs for the fourth time since 2001 after Sunday's 13-10 loss to Cincinnati marked its third straight defeat. It's the second time the Steelers won't be in the postseason since Tomlin took over in 2007.
But Tomlin said he won't coach any differently this week. The only changes to Pittsburgh's lineup will be by way of injury, not to get a look at younger players with the future in mind.
"This is an opportunity to play and play to win, to get this sour taste out of our mouth," said Tomlin, who is 62-33 in the regular season. "I am not going to approach it with that (look-ahead to 2013) mentality."
One Steeler with a particularly sour taste in his mouth is Ben Roethlisberger, who threw interceptions that led to the opponents' game-winning field goals in each of the last two games. Often considered one of the league's most clutch quarterbacks, Roethlisberger shouldered much of the blame for Pittsburgh's struggles in close games this season.
The Steelers are 3-5 in games decided by three points or less.
"A lot of it just has to do with me not playing well enough down the stretch," he said. "Fourth-quarter drives or last-minute throws, I'm just not making it happen, so my best answer would be that I just didn't play well enough."
Roethlisberger's eight interceptions are the second fewest of his career, but four have come in the last three games since he returned from shoulder and rib injuries sustained against Kansas City on Nov. 12, leading some to believe he still shouldn't be playing.
He's thrown six touchdowns during the same span. Roethlisberger tallied 17 TDs and four picks in his nine games before being injured.
"We can talk about that in the offseason maybe, but I feel good enough to play," he said.
Roethlisberger will play without one of his favorite targets, as Pro Bowler Heath Miller will have surgery on Thursday to repair a torn ACL and MCL suffered in Sunday's loss. Miller's 19 red-zone targets are tied for the NFL's fourth-most and his eight receiving touchdowns are tied for third among tight ends.
The Browns (5-10) can't avoid their 11th 10-plus loss season in the last 14 years after Sunday's 34-12 loss at Denver. A victory on Sunday would be Cleveland's first in Pittsburgh since a 33-13 win on Oct. 5, 2003, and would give coach Pat Shurmur a two-win improvement in his second season with the team.
It might not be enough to give Shurmur another year, as new owner Jimmy Haslam and CEO Joe Banner have promised to revamp the organization, which has reached the playoffs twice since 1990.
Such moves might be to the chagrin of some players, like Josh Cribbs, who is playing under his third coach in eight years.
"Every year you have a constant rebuilding process, not a good recipe for success football," said Cribbs, whose 12.2 yards per punt return rank fourth.
Neither is not knowing your starting quarterback - exactly the situation Cleveland finds itself in this week. Thad Lewis took first-team snaps on Wednesday with Brandon Weeden and Colt McCoy missing practice due to right shoulder injuries. Weeden was hurt in Sunday's game and McCoy followed suit after coming on in relief.
A start would mark Lewis' NFL debut, though Shurmur hasn't ruled out Weeden or McCoy. Josh Johnson could serve as the team's backup after being signed as a free agent on Wednesday.
The Browns may also have to play without running back Trent Richardson, who was carted off the field Sunday because of a left ankle injury. Richardson, who is tied for second with 11 rushing TDs, also sat out Wednesday's practice.
"The injuries to Brandon and Trent are not as severe as you might have thought," Shurmur said. "We'll see how they come back. If they are healthy and can go, then of course they'll play. If they can't, I have no problem ruling them out."
Richardson ran for 85 yards and a TD and the Browns forced eight turnovers in a 20-14 home win against the Steelers on Nov. 25. That was only Cleveland's second victory in the past 18 meetings.
BEST OF MAXIM
AROUND THE WEB
The personnel side of changes will take care of themselves as the off-season begins about 4pm on Sunday for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Decisions of who will be cut and who will be scouted in the draft are already underway but there are two specific changes I’m looking forward to the Steelers making on the coaching staff.
The first thing that needs to be addressed is somewhat taking...
The 2012 season isn’t officially over for the Steelers until this Sunday when the clock hits zeros in their final contest against the Browns. By then they’ll either by a .500 team or finish with a losing record for the first time in Mike Tomlin’s career. The coaching staff in Pittsburgh has taken a lot of heat this season, mainly on the offensive side of the ball. Tomlin will...
There has been a lot of speculation as to whether or not Pittsburgh Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau will return next year for what would be his 10th consecutive season with the team. On Thursday the 75-year-old defensive guru let it be known that he has every intention of returning in 2013 as long as head coach Mike Tomlin wants him back.
''Let's just say...
To know Phil Dawson is to know class, consistency and professionalism.
To know Phil Dawson is finally going to the Pro Bowl?
It's a just yet overdue reward, an acknowledgement of another sterling individual season amidst some, um, turmoil. There are and have been lots of good kickers in the AFC, and Dawson's been one going back a decade or so. He should have been...
Pat Shurmur had his chat with reporters today and discussed the decision to bring in quarterback Josh Johnson. It was top of my mind yesterday as I wondered if the Browns had talked to Seneca Wallace. He played for the Browns last year and was cut at the end of training camp this year, so it seemed like at least a logical option in the thought progression.
As it turns out, the Browns...
It’s going to be the toughest game to predict all year in all likelihood. The Browns and Steelers don’t have anything to play for but pride and paychecks. The teams are a mystery right now at least on the Browns’ side of the equation as Brandon Weeden, Trent Richardson and even Colt McCoy are questionable at best and out in all probability. It could be the last game as a member...
Josh Cribbs has been with the Browns since 2005 and seen a similar outcome each of the past five seasons. He seems tired of it.
Former Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Joey Porter was released from jail in Bakersfield, Calif., three days after he was charged with writing bad checks in Las Vegas. According to reports, Porter paid a $70,000 debt to Hard Rock Casino in Las Vegas and was released Monday. Porter, 35, retired in July after a 13-year NFL career that also included stops with Miami and Arizona.
Browns coach Pat Shurmur says running back Trent Richardson's ankle injury isn't as bad as the team had originally thought.Fantasy Spin:If Richardson suits up, he'll have a chance to become the first Browns' rookie to rush for 1,000 yards in one season. If Cleveland opts to sit Richardson, Montario Hardesty would get the start at halfback this week against Pittsburgh.
Season 3, Episode 60 of The Terrible Podcast is up and co-host David Todd and I talk about who might be in and who might be out this week in the Pittsburgh Steelers final game of the season against the Cleveland Browns. How much will players like Troy Polamalu, Mike Wallace and Rashard Mendenhall play in this game?
We look at several other topic points heading into the final game...
BEREA, Ohio (AP) -- The Cleveland Browns are down to their third-string quarterback.
With both Brandon Weeden and Colt McCoy missing practice Wednesday due to right shoulder injuries, Thad Lewis took first-team snaps in practice. Elevated from the practice squad on Monday, Lewis could make his NFL debut in Pittsburgh on Sunday.
The Browns also signed free agent quarterback Josh Johnson...
Jimmy Haslam and Joe Banner were Photoshopped into the 2012 Cleveland Browns team photo at his direction. Not only is that a true statement, but Haslam chronicled it on the new documentary TV show, “Road Tested,” about the Cleveland Browns.
Last night’s episode handled the Browns’ losses to the Washington Redskins and Denver Broncos. The losing isn’t what’s important...
The Cleveland Browns have signed free agent quarterback Josh
We’re a week away from Black Monday and this means one thing: NFL coaching jobs will be opening up. So be sure to keep an eye on Craigslist. This is the time of year where we famously pit college coaches and rumor them to be leaving. Pretending we know about the next Mike Tomlin … Continue reading »