Hard to fight the temptation to feel good about another loss

Posted by Vic Carucci on December 9, 2011 – 5:42 am

By Vic Carucci, Senior Editor

PITTSBURGH – Here are some final thoughts of the Browns’ 14-3 loss against the Steelers:

–A loss is a loss. There really shouldn’t be any difference between this outcome and last Sunday’s train wreck at Cleveland Browns Stadium. Yet I feel as if I want to feel good about this game. I feel as if I want to say the Browns took some sort of forward step. I know that it’s easy to get caught in such a trap, taking something positive away from another defeat. But those were the Steelers. They’re a better team. They conceivably could have won this game by a lopsided margin, but the Browns kept it interesting the entire way, and that’s hard to ignore.

–It’s appropriate that a game between AFC North rivals was decided by defense. Some of the league’s best defenses – including the Browns’ – reside in that division. The Browns’ defense did a commendable job of keeping them in a game that could easily have seen them on the wrong end of a lopsided score. But it was the Steelers’ defense that helped close the sale at the end with an interception that set up Pittsburgh’s game-sealing, 79-yard touchdown connection.

–The goal-line stand the Browns staged early in the fourth quarter was nothing short of incredible. Actually, it was a Chris Gocong stand, because he made or was heavily involved in every stop. Afterward, Mike Adams made a huge interception, and it seemed the Browns’ defense was going to lead a stunning upset … but it never happened.

–By the way, it seemed fairly arrogant for the Steelers to keep taking cracks at the end zone rather than settling for a field goal. But that’s the sort of stuff that puts the fierce into fierce rivalries.

–It almost has become a cliché to talk about Colt McCoy’s toughness, but he went over the top in displaying it tonight. By all rights, the facemask blast he took from James Harrison’s helmet should have ended the quarterback’s night. Instead, he returned two plays later. Now McCoy also ended up throwing an interception that killed a late scoring chance for the Browns, but the fact he was out there was beyond amazing.

–I’m not getting why Ben Roethlisberger returned to the game in the second half after suffering a foot injury late in the second quarter that had him moving with a pronounced limp. I get that Charlie Batch isn’t a very good replacement, but if the Steelers have such little confidence in their backup quarterback, then they need a new backup. Apparently, pretty much anyone would do if a limping Big Ben is a better option.

>>Be sure to tune in Monday through Friday, 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. ET, for “Cleveland Browns Daily, Driven by Liberty Ford” on ESPN 850 WKNR or catch the live stream right here on ClevelandBrowns.com.

>>Have a question for “Cleveland Browns Daily, Driven by Liberty Ford”? Ask me at Twitter.com/viccarucci


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Steelers 14, Browns 3

Posted by Matt Florjancic on December 9, 2011 – 4:34 am

PITTSBURGH — The Pittsburgh Steelers earned a 14-3 victory over the Cleveland Browns at Heinz Field Thursday night.

Pittsburgh wide receiver Antonio Brown hauled in a 79-yard touchdown pass and extended the Steelers’ lead to 14-3 over the Cleveland Browns with 2:52 left to play in regulation.

The two-play, 80-yard drive was set up by William Gay’s interception of Colt McCoy in the end zone on a pass intended for wide receiver Mohamed Massaquoi.

Neither the Browns nor the Steelers scored in the third quarter of the game, but the Steelers still owned a 7-3 lead.

While the first quarter for was scoring, the second quarter was not kind to the Browns and Steelers.

As he was being sacked by Scott Paxson for a five-yard loss, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was injured. He suffered an apparent leg injury and Charlie Batch took over under center.

Prior to the injury, Roethlisberger completed eight of nine attempts for 102 yards and one touchdown. Roethlisberger did return to the game in the second half.

Later in the quarter, Browns tight end Benjamin Watson left the field of play with a head injury and was ruled out for the rest of the game. Watson caught two passes for 11 yards before leaving the game.

The difference on the scoreboard was the result of Roethlisberger’s 11-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery with 6:12 remaining in the first quarter of play.

Cotchery ran a drag route across the middle of the field from the right side of the formation and caught the pass five yards short of the end zone. He muscled past the goal line for his second touchdown reception of the season.

The five-play, 73-yard scoring drive took 3:10 off the clock.

Kicker Phil Dawson connected on a 20-yard field goal and gave the Browns a 3-0 lead over the Steelers with 9:22 left in the first quarter.

The 10-play, 78-yard drive started at the 20-yard line after Joshua Cribbs returned Shaun Suisham’s opening kickoff 22 yards. Following Peyton Hillis’ two-yard run on first down, quarterback Colt McCoy completed back-to-back passes to tight end Benjamin Watson for a total of 11 yards.

On the snap following Watson’s second reception, McCoy completed a 33-yard pass to tight end Evan Moore. Moore started on the right side of the formation, ran a diagonal route across the middle of the field and jumped to make the catch before running for extra yardage.

Two plays after Moore’s big gain, Cribbs hauled in a 25-yard catch and gave the Browns a first-and-goal from Pittsburgh’s five-yard line.


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Brown hauls in 79-yarder

Posted by Matt Florjancic on December 9, 2011 – 4:17 am

PITTSBURGH — Pittsburgh wide receiver Antonio Brown hauled in a 79-yard touchdown pass and extended the Steelers’ lead to 14-3 over the Cleveland Browns with 2:52 left to play in regulation at Heinz Field.

The two-play, 80-yard drive was set up by William Gay’s interception of Colt McCoy in the end zone on a pass intended for wide receiver Mohamed Massaquoi.

Brown made five catches for 151 yards and one touchdown in the game.


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Steelers lead after three

Posted by Matt Florjancic on December 9, 2011 – 3:38 am

PITTSBURGH — Neither the Cleveland Browns nor the Pittsburgh Steelers scored in the third quarter of the game from Heinz Field, but the Steelers still own a 7-3 lead.

While the first quarter for was scoring, the second quarter was not kind to the Browns and Steelers.

As he was being sacked by Scott Paxson for a five-yard loss, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was injured. He suffered an apparent leg injury and Charlie Batch took over under center.

Prior to the injury, Roethlisberger completed eight of nine attempts for 102 yards and one touchdown. Roethlisberger did return to the game in the second half.

Later in the quarter, Browns tight end Benjamin Watson left the field of play with a head injury and was ruled out for the rest of the game. Watson caught two passes for 11 yards before leaving the game.

The difference on the scoreboard was the result of Roethlisberger’s 11-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery with 6:12 remaining in the first quarter of play.

Cotchery ran a drag route across the middle of the field from the right side of the formation and caught the pass five yards short of the end zone. He muscled past the goal line for his second touchdown reception of the season.

The five-play, 73-yard scoring drive took 3:10 off the clock.

Kicker Phil Dawson connected on a 20-yard field goal and gave the Browns a 3-0 lead over the Steelers with 9:22 left in the first quarter.

The 10-play, 78-yard drive started at the 20-yard line after Joshua Cribbs returned Shaun Suisham’s opening kickoff 22 yards. Following Peyton Hillis’ two-yard run on first down, quarterback Colt McCoy completed back-to-back passes to tight end Benjamin Watson for a total of 11 yards.

On the snap following Watson’s second reception, McCoy completed a 33-yard pass to tight end Evan Moore. Moore started on the right side of the formation, ran a diagonal route across the middle of the field and jumped to make the catch before running for extra yardage.

Two plays after Moore’s big gain, Cribbs hauled in a 25-yard catch and gave the Browns a first-and-goal from Pittsburgh’s five-yard line.


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Browns’ early offensive aggressiveness is impressive

Posted by Vic Carucci on December 9, 2011 – 3:02 am

By Vic Carucci, Senior Editor

Here are some halftime thoughts of the Browns-Steelers game:

–With the distinct possibility that Ben Roethlisberger not returning to the game from the injury that caused him to exit the field late in the half, you have to wonder what the Steelers might do with their offensive game plan the rest of the way. The guess here is they can’t continue with their typically aggressive passing game, and that changes things dramatically. Backup quarterback Charlie Batch doesn’t have Big Ben’s talent or ability to extend plays and consistently connect on big throws. The Browns should be able to get decent pressure on him.

–Even while holding only a 7-3 lead, expect the Steelers to start running more in the second half, just as they began doing late in the first. Given that the Steelers don’t have an exceptional run-blocking offensive line, the Browns’ defense stands a decent chance to stop the run … yes, that’s saying a whole lot after last Sunday’s disastrous showing against Baltimore’s Ray Rice.

–You have to like the way the Browns’ offense came out attacking. It was a bold statement from Pat Shurmur that he was not doing to be intimidated by the Steelers’ big, physical defense. Colt McCoy looked sharp on the early drives. He generally had good time and plenty of comfort in the pocket. He did a nice job of reading the Steelers’ complex coverages and finding wide open receivers for big gains.

–The Browns’ receivers have done a far better job of hanging onto the ball, and that, in itself, is a huge difference from what we’ve seen the last couple of games.

–Of Course, since that early success, McCoy has had some struggles. He made what looked like a bad throw on the pass that Troy Polamalo intercepted. Evan Moore had gotten behind Polamalo, but McCoy underthrew him. McCoy also was slow on the delivery of a deep pass broken up in the end zone.

–Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau has made some adjustments in coverages to allow McCoy to have fewer open windows for throws.

–The Browns have shown poor discipline for much of the half. Far too many silly penalties, such as Ben Watson slamming a defender to the ground after a play. It’s great to see the Browns entering this game with plenty of fight, but you simply cannot do that sort of thing against any opponent, let alone one with the edge in talent the Steelers have.

–Brad Maynard has had an excellent night of punting. He is getting great hang time and targeting the ball well to pin the Steelers deep in their territory.

>>Be sure to tune in Monday through Friday, 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. ET, for “Cleveland Browns Daily, Driven by Liberty Ford” on ESPN 850 WKNR or catch the live stream right here on ClevelandBrowns.com.

>>Have a question for “Cleveland Browns Daily, Driven by Liberty Ford”? Ask me at Twitter.com/viccarucci


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Browns trail at the half

Posted by Matt Florjancic on December 9, 2011 – 2:55 am

PITTSBURGH — The Pittsburgh Steelers took a 7-3 lead over the Cleveland Browns into halftime of Thursday night’s game at Heinz Field.

While the first quarter for was scoring, the second quarter was not kind to the Browns and Steelers.

As he was being sacked by Scott Paxson for a five-yard loss, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was injured. He suffered an apparent leg injury and did not return to the field. Charlie Batch took over under center.

Prior to the injury, Roethlisberger completed eight of nine attempts for 102 yards and one touchdown.

Later in the quarter, Browns tight end Benjamin Watson left the field of play with a head injury and was ruled out for the rest of the game. Watson caught two passes for 11 yards before leaving the game.

The difference on the scoreboard was the result of Roethlisberger’s 11-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery with 6:12 remaining in the first quarter of play.

Cotchery ran a drag route across the middle of the field from the right side of the formation and caught the pass five yards short of the end zone. He muscled past the goal line for his second touchdown reception of the season.

The five-play, 73-yard scoring drive took 3:10 off the clock.

Kicker Phil Dawson connected on a 20-yard field goal and gave the Browns a 3-0 lead over the Steelers with 9:22 left in the first quarter.

The 10-play, 78-yard drive started at the 20-yard line after Joshua Cribbs returned Shaun Suisham’s opening kickoff 22 yards. Following Peyton Hillis’ two-yard run on first down, quarterback Colt McCoy completed back-to-back passes to tight end Benjamin Watson for a total of 11 yards.

On the snap following Watson’s second reception, McCoy completed a 33-yard pass to tight end Evan Moore. Moore started on the right side of the formation, ran a diagonal route across the middle of the field and jumped to make the catch before running for extra yardage.

Two plays after Moore’s big gain, Cribbs hauled in a 25-yard catch and gave the Browns a first-and-goal from Pittsburgh’s five-yard line.


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Roethlisberger, Watson leave with injuries

Posted by Matt Florjancic on December 9, 2011 – 2:47 am

PITTSBURGH — The second quarter was not kind to either the Cleveland Browns or Pittsburgh Steelers.

As he was being sacked by Scott Paxson for a five-yard loss, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was injured. He suffered an apparent leg injury and did not return to the field. Charlie Batch took over under center.

Prior to the injury, Roethlisberger completed eight of nine attempts for 102 yards and one touchdown.

Later in the quarter, Browns tight end Benjamin Watson left the field of play with a head injury and was ruled out for the rest of the game. Watson caught two passes for 11 yards before leaving the game.


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Browns trail after first quarter

Posted by Matt Florjancic on December 9, 2011 – 2:08 am

PITTSBURGH — The Pittsburgh Steelers enjoyed a 7-3 lead over the Cleveland Browns after the first quarter of play from Heinz Field.

The difference on the scoreboard was the result of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s 11-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery with 6:12 remaining in the first quarter of play.

Cotchery ran a drag route across the middle of the field from the right side of the formation and caught the pass five yards short of the end zone. He muscled past the goal line for his second touchdown reception of the season.

The five-play, 73-yard scoring drive took 3:10 off the clock.

Kicker Phil Dawson connected on a 20-yard field goal and gave the Browns a 3-0 lead over the Steelers with 9:22 left in the first quarter.

The 10-play, 78-yard drive started at the 20-yard line after Joshua Cribbs returned Shaun Suisham’s opening kickoff 22 yards. Following Peyton Hillis’ two-yard run on first down, quarterback Colt McCoy completed back-to-back passes to tight end Benjamin Watson for a total of 11 yards.

On the snap following Watson’s second reception, McCoy completed a 33-yard pass to tight end Evan Moore. Moore started on the right side of the formation, ran a diagonal route across the middle of the field and jumped to make the catch before running for extra yardage.

Two plays after Moore’s big gain, Cribbs hauled in a 25-yard catch and gave the Browns a first-and-goal from Pittsburgh’s five-yard line.


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Pittsburgh answers with TD

Posted by Matt Florjancic on December 9, 2011 – 1:49 am

PITTSBURGH — Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s 11-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery gave the Pittsburgh Steelers a 7-3 lead over the Cleveland Browns with 6:12 remaining in the first quarter of play from Heinz Field.

Cotchery ran a drag route across the middle of the field from the right side of the formation and caught the pass five yards short of the end zone before muscling his way past the goal line.

The five-play, 73-yard scoring drive took 3:10 off the clock.


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Dawson hits from 20 yards

Posted by Matt Florjancic on December 9, 2011 – 1:41 am

PITTSBURGH — Kicker Phil Dawson connected on a 20-yard field goal and gave the Cleveland Browns a 3-0 lead over the Pittsburgh Steelers with 9:22 remaining in the first quarter of play from Heinz Field.

The 10-play, 78-yard drive started at the 20-yard line after Joshua Cribbs returned Shaun Suisham’s opening kickoff 22 yards. After Peyton Hillis’ two-yard run on first down, quarterback Colt McCoy completed back to back passes to tight end Benjamin Watson for 11 yards.

On the snap following Watson’s five-yard reception, McCoy completed a 33-yard pass to tight end Evan Moore. Moore started on the right side of the formation, ran across the middle and jumped to make the catch before running for extra yardage.

Two plays after Moore’s big gain, Cribbs hauled in a 25-yard catch and gave the Browns a first-and-goal from Pittsburgh’s five-yard line.


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