Browns could see dramatically different Steelers team

Posted by Matt Florjancic on December 28, 2011 – 8:17 pm

By: Vic Carucci, Senior Editor

This could very well be a dramatically different Steelers team that plays at Cleveland Browns Stadium on New Year’s Day than the one the Browns faced on Dec. 8 at Heinz Field.

And the most dramatic difference could very well be that Charlie Batch, and not Ben Roethlisberger, is the Steelers’ starting quarterback.

The Browns briefly saw the impact of that change behind center after Roethlisberger limped to the dressing room late in the first half of the previous game between the teams with a high ankle sprain. Batch failed to complete the only two passes he attempted.

In the second half, Roethlisberger, despite being severely hobbled, returned to the game to help lead the Steelers to a 14-3 victory.

But after the Steelers lost their next game at San Francisco, with Roethlisberger trying to push his way through on one leg, the Steelers turned to Batch last Saturday to be their starter against St. Louis. And the results were far better than that cameo showing against the Browns.

In his first start since last season, Batch was solid, but far from spectacular. He did a nice job of managing a run-oriented game plan. He avoided pressure and, except for one interception, did a good job of avoiding mistakes. He threw for 208 yards, 46 of which came on a completion to the Steelers’ most dangerous target, Mike Wallace.

With Batch at quarterback, the Steelers aren’t their usual quick-striking selves. They are content to pound the ball on the ground. That formula worked well against the Rams, who have the NFL’s worst rush defense. Reshard Mendenhall ran for 116 yards and a touchdown, and averaged 6.4 yards per carry. The Browns’ run defense isn’t ranked a whole lot higher than the Rams’, although it has had some of its better performances the past three games, beginning with the first encounter with Pittsburgh. That night, Mendenhall gained only 76 yards.

The Browns’ cause might be helped by the fact the interior of the Steelers’ offensive line has been weakened by injuries. First, they lost starting center Maurkice Pouncey. Then, early in the St. Louis game, they lost his replacement, Doug Legursky, who had moved from left guard to replace him. Trai Essex ended up at center, while Chris Kemoeatu took Essex’s place at left guard.

The Steelers survived the shuffling, but it might be harder to do at Cleveland against the likes of tackles Ahtyba Rubin and Phil Taylor, and middle linebacker D’Qwell Jackson.

The Browns just might be able to continue the success they’ve had on the ground with Peyton Hillis, who has rushed for 99 and 112 yards in his last two games. The Steelers’ defensive line didn’t do much to contain Rams standout running back Steven Jackson, whose 103-yard outing made him the third back to rush for more than 100 yards against the Steelers this season.

>>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


Posted in Carucci's Call | 1 Comment »


One Response to “Browns could see dramatically different Steelers team”

  1. By floyd on Dec 29, 2011 | Reply

    once again another meaningless last game of the season.

    if we don’t get RG3 please build the defense up and address the right side of the line.

    trade down again if you don’t go after RG3

    Finally the last couple of years (2 out of 3) you have traded down in the later 1st round to draft which is smart unless there is a home run player

    don’t draft blackmon if there is no one to throw him the ball

    come on randy lerner and take some pride on your product

    a franchise quarterback should always be your #1 priority

Post a Comment