It was a good day to be a Steelers’ fan. The Steelers defeated the Cleveland Browns, 27-11, winning the old-fashioned way—with strong defense and a hard-nosed running game. Cleveland came into Sunday’s game carrying a top-10 defense, but Cleveland defensive coordinator Ray Horton was shown a thing or two while facing-off against his mentor, Steelers’ defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau.
The Steelers forced four turnovers,—that’s not a typo—scored a defensive touchdown and recorded five sacks en route to Sunday’s win. It looked like the Steelers’ defense of old.
Safety Troy Polamalu was all over the field, causing two fumbles and recovering one.
Cornerback William Gay was flying around recording one sack, one forced-fumble and one pick-six.
Middle-linebacker Lawrence Timmons continued his stellar season picking up seven tackles.
And the offense matched the defense punch for punch.
Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger threw for 217 yards with two touchdowns and zero interceptions. His rating was 102.2.
Running back Le’Veon Bell proved his mettle by rushing for 80 yards against a Cleveland front ranked eighth in the NFL against the run coming into the game.
Things are looking up for the Steelers. Sunday’s win was their third-straight, and with a 5-6 record, and three games remaining against division opponents, the playoffs aren’t as farfetched as they seemed after the 0-4 start.
Let’s take a look at some post-game flair:
MVP – Steelers’ Secondary
The secondary was marvelous Sunday. They accounted for two sacks, two forced fumbles, one fumble-recovery and one pick-six. Technically all of those stats were done by Will Gay and Troy Polamalu, but everyone allowed 312 passing-yards and one touchdown. And the Browns were playing catch-up all game long. Not too shabby.
LVP – Jarvis Jones
In his second straight start with something to prove, Jones came up wildly short of not only the expectations of his high-draft pick, but also the expectations of being an outside-linebacker for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Jones recorded just two tackles with zero sacks. Jones has to be able to take advantage of the opportunities given to him, or the Steelers will give those opportunities to someone else.
X-Factor – Antonio Brown
Someone, definitely not me, predicted that Antonio Brown would be shut down by Cleveland’s stellar cornerback Joe Haden. That didn’t exactly happen as Brown caught six balls for 92 yards and a touchdown. Brown’s ability to neutralize Haden was key for the other aspects of the Steelers’ offense to flourish.
Key Stat – 33:39 Time of Possession
Seems like a while since the Steelers were able to control the clock by running the ball and playing strong defense. Forcing three-and-outs and causing four turnovers only facilitates the running game. It’s nice to see the Steelers get back to their identity.
Tweet of the Game
In light of Polamalu’s strong game, the official Steelers’ Twitter account plainly stated the facts:
— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) November 24, 2013
What This Win Means
Many teams played this weekend within the AFC with 4-6 records. The Steelers win keeps them right in place at snatching up that last playoff spot. Regardless of that however, a win like this is just what the team, and its fans, needed. Getting back to “Steeler Football” is highly encouraging, and seeing younger players like Cameron Heyward and Al Woods—among others—play so well means good things for the future.
Pittsburgh Steelers @ Baltimore Ravens
M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore, Maryland
November 28, 2013,8:30 p.m. (ET)