Week 10 Game Recap: Cleveland Browns 21, Pittsburgh Steelers 34
What you need to know
The Browns showed early confidence in jumping out to a 7-0 lead on their first drive thanks to Reuben Droughns’ five yard score and the Browns looked like a team determined to give their all. Seven of their next eight drives, however, ended in four punts and three turnovers (interception, fumble and downs) and the other possession was at the end of the first half (a sack). The offense didn’t see the end zone again until the final minute of play to make the score look more respectable.
Dilfer engineered the ten play scoring drive to open the game, and while his numbers were pretty good (17-34, 253 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT), he tallied most of those numbers on that first drive and the Browns’ last two drives against a much softer fourth quarter defense while protecting leads between ten and 20 points.
Dilfer’s favorite target was Antonio Bryant, who had five catches for 82 yards and a touchdown, including a 35 bomb to set up the Droughns score. Droughns added 67 yards on four receptions with a long of 22 and Braylon Edwards had 64 yards receiving. Droughns had 35 yards rushing in the first half, but only had five carries and 19 yards in the second half because of the large deficit.
One bright spot came from the Browns’ special teams when Orpheus Roye blocked a fourth quarter field goal and Leigh Bodden returned it 59 yards for a touchdown. But otherwise, Cleveland gave up 159 yards rushing, 223 passing, 25 first downs and four touchdowns (three rushing, one passing).
Those who handcuffed Charlie Batch to injured Ben Roethlisberger this week will have to look elsewhere next week if Roethlisberger is out again at Baltimore for week 11. Batch, who was very effective in the first half, broke a bone in his throwing hand as he dove into the end zone on a QB sneak seconds before halftime. He finished 13 of 19 for 150 yards and 16 yards rushing.
Tommy Maddox nearly turned the ball over twice, but managed to stay out of harm's way in the second half completing four of seven for 22 yards.
It was Antwaan Randle El who starred at quarterback in the third quarter when he hit Hines Ward for a 51 yard touchdown pass on a WR reverse option. Ward was the man of the hour catching eight passes for 124 yards and Randle El had 96 all purpose yards (51 passing, 19 receiving, ten rushing and 16 return yards).
Duce Staley started for injured Willie Parker and led Pittsburgh with 64 yards rushing. Jerome Bettis had 28 yards and a second quarter touchdown and Verron Haynes cleaned up the fourth quarter with 41 yards and a score.
The Steelers’ defense allowed the Browns to 66 yards on their opening drive, but just 64 total yards on six of the next seven possessions. While running damage control in the fourth quarter they gave up 121 yards on Cleveland’s last two possessions. Joey Porter’s interception with 1:29 left in the first half led to a touchdown and a ten point lead at the break.
What you ought to know
|QB Trent Dilfer, Pass: 17 - 34 - 253 - 1 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 1 - 5 - 0|
Dilfer completed eight of his first 14 passes, taking shots down field but without putting his team at risk, hitting mostly high percentage passes. He read a mismatch perfectly when he hit Antonio Bryant for 35 yards in single coverage against a backup cornerback. But his consistency level fell, and he had two near interceptions dropped. He was also the victim of three drops and another was fumbled after a 21 yard completion. He made up for some of it by throwing for 115 yards and a nine yard touchdown pass to Bryant in the fourth quarter.
Droughns’ stats weren’t impressive, but his running style was. Considering the opponent, he did well to gain 56 yards on 17 carries. While several of his carries went for little to none, he was difficult to bring down and he fought valiantly for every yard possible. He came up large as a receiver with four catches and 67 yards with long gains of 22 and 17. With Lee Suggs now on the active roster, it is Droughns’ job to lose. He runs like he wants to stay atop the RB depth chart.
The large fullback had one carry for zero yards and a nine yard reception.
Bryant got off to a rousing start with two catches and 44 yards on the opening drive, including a 35 yard bomb over CB Ricardo Colclough which helped set up Droughns’ touchdown run. He only had three more receptions the rest of the way, but he was Dilfer’s favorite target, especially on the deep routes. After fumbling away a 21 yard reception late in the third quarter and dropping a would-be touchdown from 30 yards out early in the fourth quarter, Bryant padded his stats on a nine yard touchdown catch with :21 left in the game.
Northcutt caught four balls for 31 yards with a long of 11, but it was his miscues that stood out more. On third and 17 with the game tied in the second quarter, he dropped a perfect pass from Dilfer on a deep out pattern that would have gone for 19 yards. Soon after the Browns had converted another third and 17 in the third quarter, Northcutt dropped a third and five pass over the middle just outside the red zone when he was hit by Deshea Townsend, forcing them to punt.
Edwards made a terrific 27 yard catch, fighting off Deshea Townsend, and caught a 37 yard pass in the two minute drill. On Cleveland’s second drive, Dilfer fired a bullet just out of Edwards’ reach, who had his man beat and an angle on the safety. With his speed an 83 yard touchdown would not have been out of the question. He was also looked to in the end zone twice in the fourth quarter.
Heiden had one reception and was not a factor throughout the game.
Dawson did not attempt a field goal, but did convert three extra points.
The Browns did not give up 100 rushing yards to any one player, but rather 159 to six, including 98 in the second half when it was obvious that’s all Pittsburgh was going to do. They stopped the Steelers on third and one followed by a QB sneak the next play in the first quarter, but that meant little when Charlie Batch scored on the exact same play before halftime. Ben Taylor had 12 total tackles.
The Browns gave up 150 first half yards to Charlie Batch, 51 yards to Antwaan Randle El and 22 yards to Tommy Maddox in the second half. They gave up plays of 43 and 51 yards as well as ten first downs. Cornerback Daylon McCutcheon was taken off the field on a stretcher in the first quarter with what was announced as an abdominal injury.
|QB Charlie Batch, Pass: 13 - 19 - 150 - 0 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 3 - 16 - 1|
Batch rebounded from a very shaky first start last week, his first in four years, and appeared much more comfortable after an extra week of practice while subbing for injured Ben Roethlisberger. He was patient and had good pocket presence, avoiding two sacks, and completing several passes on rollouts. He also had a 20 yard touchdown pass reversed on replay when Hines Ward could not control the ball while falling out of bounds. Batch scored late in the first half on a QB sneak after going five of seven in the two minute drill, but he broke a bone in his throwing hand on the play and did not return.
|QB Tommy Maddox, Pass: 4 - 7 - 22 - 0 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 1 - 0 - 0|
With Ben Roethlisberger still nursing an injured knee, Maddox once again becomes the favorite to start next week at Baltimore. Ironically it was at Baltimore where Maddox lost his job to Roethlisberger, when his elbow was injured in week two of last year. Yesterday, Maddox heard boos after his first pass attempt was intercepted, although the play was nullified on a Browns’ penalty. He nearly threw another pick on a badly thrown ball to Hines Ward. With eight passing plays called for Maddox even while nursing a big lead, it seemed clear that Coach Cowher wanted him to get some reps in before next week.
|RB Duce Staley, Rush: 17 - 64 - 0, Rec: 2 - 16 - 0 (2 targets)|
Staley started in place of Willie Parker (ankle), and like Parker at times, started slow with just ten yards in the first quarter. After Jerome Bettis softened up the middle in the second quarter, Staley ground out another 54 yards while splitting time with Bettis. He had 17 of the 41 team carries and could emerge as the lead back as he continues to get stronger from preseason knee surgery, although currently it has been a clear case of RBBC in Pittsburgh. Staley also had 16 receiving yards.
Haynes got lots of work in the fourth quarter carrying nine times for 41 yards. He took a sweep for 20 yards to Cleveland’s ten yard line late in the fourth quarter. While essentially attempting to give the ball back to Cleveland on fourth and 10 at the two minute warning, Haynes took a pitch only to find plenty of room down the right sideline for a touchdown. He also had ten yards receiving.
Bettis suited up despite lingering effects from a leg injury. He took over early in the second quarter and had five carries and 17 yards on the Steelers’ first scoring drive, including a bruising ten yard run while carrying several defenders, and a one yard touchdown run. He ran the next three carries for 16 yards on their next scoring drive before handing the running duties back to Staley.
Ward once again was the go to guy hauling in eight passes for 121 yards. He played a big role in Charlie Batch’s success with six receptions and 64 yards in the first half. With his second reception, he broke the Steelers all-time receptions record, passing Hall of Famer John Stallworth who had 538 for his career. Ward put an exclamation point on the night when he caught a 51 yard bomb from Antwaan Randle El early in the third quarter. He also had a juggling touchdown catch reversed upon instant replay, and nearly broke the goal line for another score on the play previous to Batch’s touchdown run.
|WR Antwaan Randle El, Pass: 1 - 1 - 51 - 1 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 2 - 10 - 0, Rec: 2 - 19 - 0 (4 targets)|
Randle El has always been a part of gadget plays, QB draws, reverses and once in a blue moon will throw a pass, or rollout on a two point conversion. He put all his eggs in one basket yesterday when he took a reverse hand off from Duce Staley, rolled right and tossed a perfect bomb to Hines Ward in stride for a 51 yard touchdown pass. He had a QB draw for seven yards and ran a reverse for three. He also had two receptions for 19 yards, and 16 return yards.
Wilson was given a few more opportunities this week and had three receptions for 48 yards, most notably a 43 yard catch where he was severely underthrown, but came back to ball after shaking double coverage to make the catch. He had one kick return for eight yards.
Miller was thrown to once by Tommy Maddox, but the ball was well over his head in the end zone - end zone being the key words as he has six touchdowns this year.
Reed made field goals of 42 and 33 yards. He had a 44 yard attempt blocked and returned for a touchdown. It was the second blocked field goal in as many weeks for Reed. He made all four of his extra points.
The Steelers held the Browns to 61 yards rushing and 3.2 yards per carry. They didn’t have too much run defending to do in the second half with double digit leads throughout.
The Steelers got two sacks, and interception and a forced fumble. In addition, two interceptions were dropped, but they did record six passes defended. Joey Porter had the interception and one of the two sacks. Clark Haggans had the other.