Game #5 – Steelers @ Browns Review
Phew, I definitely did not see that victory coming – but I am very grateful for it. The Browns fell behind 3 – 0, scored a touchdown, and never looked back. There are no arguments that should occur by the fans – with the exception of a few injuries (but those obviously happen in the NFL). Let’s remember what that sweet victory tasted like…
Offense: Only completing eight of seventeen attempts, and one would think Brian Hoyer had a poor day. Quite the opposite, actually, as the veteran passed for 218 yards and a touchdown – Hoyer did a tremendous job leading his unit. He did not turn the football over either, I am so glad to see his confidence keep on growing. The Steelers we going all out to stop the Browns’ running attack, but it did not hurt the quarterback’s play one bit.
I was a bit surprised to see Terrance West inactive for this contest, however Isaiah Crowell and Ben Tate shouldered the load exceptionally. The duo combined for over 150 yards on the ground and finished with three touchdowns. The rushing attack continues to roll, and my faith in them builds every week. I’ll forgive Crowell’s fumble as it was in garbage time – but he’s got to be ready for those big hits down the road.
Jordan Cameron was the only consistent receiving option for the Browns. He hauled in three passes for 102 yards and a score. Veteran Brett Keisel caught him from behind, or it would have been a pair of touchdowns. Travis Benjamin and Taylor Gabriel only had a reception each, but they were at least for twenty-four yards. Andrew Hawkins, disappointingly, did not have a catch in this contest. I expect him to rebound next week, but that was a disappointing effort today.
The offensive line had a gem of a game; even with the loss of Alex Mack. The center broke his leg, and the team huddled around the veteran and provided him with words of encouragement. John Greco filled in admirably at center – he will be relied upon for a while to be that anchor in the middle. I thought Paul McQuistan did a good job at guard, and have faith he will do a respectable job there going forward.
Defense: The revolving door at defensive line did not matter – the unit surrendered gave up 138 yards on the ground but kept the opponent from running into the end zone. Desmond Bryant and Ishmaa’ily Kitchen were two forces upfront that should be applauded. They combined for nine tackles and three hits on the quarterback. Armonty Bryant’s injury hurts a bit, but hopefully either he or Billy Winn can get back on the field next week and make some solid plays.
Barkevious Mingo is the only linebacker who continues to disappoint. He has not been impactful versus the run or pass so far – and Paul Kruger and Jabaal Sheard are the better of the outside linebackers at this point. I want him to improve quickly, but I am worrying. Karlos Dansby made some great plays in coverage – he nearly had a pair of interceptions but I’ll take what he did at face value (which included eleven stops). Rookie Chris Kirksey emerged to finally have a good game this season. He finished with six tackles and had a pass defended.
All the credit goes to Joe Haden, who played in obvious pain all game long. He did not have a tremendous outing, but was good enough to prevent Antonio Brown from finding the end zone. I hope K’Waun Williams is ok from his concussion; he has a chance to be a stalwart in this secondary. On the other side, Buster Skrine also made some nice plays – including four passes defended. The secondary upped its game in this contest; I want to see more of this going forward.
Special Teams: Jordan Poyer is not a flashy returner, but he gets the job done. Overall, the special teams units did a fine job and I am glad they righted their wrongs (at least for now). Christian Yount appears to have gotten rid of his “yips” while long snapping. Assuming that is status quo, then special teams should be of little concern going forward.
Coaching: It was great coaching and great execution by the Browns. They were run-heavy and allowed Hoyer to make the Steelers pay via the pass. On the other side of the ball, the defense prevented the big play and made it very difficult on their opponent to move the ball. This was such a great a win, and a team-win nonetheless. I cannot wait to see them take the field again next week.