By Vic Carucci, Senior Editor
Here are some final thoughts on the Browns’ 20-14 victory against the Steelers at Cleveland Browns Stadium:
>>It’s true what they say about everything being better in Cleveland after a win against the Steelers. All of a sudden, it was a much happier Thanksgiving. And the sting of eight losses feels a little less painful. And the weather seemingly got a whole lot warmer (despite the 34-degree reading at kickoff). And the promise and hope that several young players have provided on both sides of the ball became a little more believable. Yes, it’s true: A win against the Steelers is the best salve of all.
>>The Browns gave one of their best defensive performances of the season, if not multiple years. It started with the forcing of eight turnovers, the most by the Browns since a 1989 victory against Pittsburgh. Five were fumbles resulting from crushing hits. The Browns’ front seven consistently won the battle up front, getting good penetration on run and pass plays.
>>The Browns knew they had to force the Steelers to put the bulk of their offense on the shaky, 37-year-old throwing arm of third-string quarterback Charlie Batch. That effort began by stuffing the run and making the Steelers one-dimensional. After that, the Browns played mostly sound coverage, giving Batch few open spots to attack. That, and the pressure the Browns were able to generate, went a long way toward Batch throwing three interceptions.
>>Brandon Weeden had a rough outing. It began with the pick-six he threw on the game’s fourth play. Weeden also struggled in the second half. He does deserve some credit for fighting his way back from the interception-turned-touchdown. And Weeden did make a nice throw on his touchdown to Jordan Cameron, who ran an excellent route to get open.
>>Major props for the Browns’ special teams. This bunch did an excellent job in coverage. Phil Dawson was money on a pair of field-goal attempts. And Reggie Hodges had an outstanding day of punting.
>>Trent Richardson had a solid day with 85 rushing yards on 29 carries. It was a bit unrealistic to expect the Browns to dominate on the ground against the top-ranked defense in the NFL and the fourth-rated unit vs. the run. But the important part of what the Browns did was stay persistent with their running game.
>>The Browns had far too many holding penalties. This team had to learn its lesson from last week’s 12-penalty game against the Cowboys. A week ago, 10 of the infractions were on defense and two were on special teams. But the Browns need to be more mindful of not damaging their cause with self-inflicted wounds. That’s a lesson to take forward, even in the euphoria of the biggest win this franchise has had since the last time they beat the Steelers, in 2009.
>>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 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 855-363-2459.
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