By Tony Grossi
Tony Grossi’s Take on Browns’ 24-10 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers
Offense: Quarterback Thad Lewis was composed, assertive and quick to deliver his throws in his first NFL appearance, but his suspect arm couldn’t complete anything beyond 15 yards. His longest completion of 23 yards to Greg Little came on after a run after the catch. In his first appearance since joining the team as a free agent in 2011, Brandon Jackson ran with authority (54 yards on 8 carries). Receivers Josh Gordon and Travis Benjamin each lost a fumble after a catch, which was turned into Pittsburgh touchdowns. Bottom line: 320 yards, 10 points.
Defense: They held the Steelers to 212 yards and 5 of 13 third-down conversions and didn’t allow an player longer than 16 yards. When things got chippy and emotions boiled over, Phil Taylor, Frostee Rucker, Ahtyba Rubin and Billy Winn didn’t back down. In two games against Pittsburgh, they proved they can dish out physical punishment. Bottom line: Three TD passes by Big Ben from inside the red zone.
Special teams: Ray Ventrone raced 35 yards with a direct snap out of the punt formation on a fourth-down gamble. Phil Dawson atoned for his second field-goal miss of the season with a 51-yard make – his seventh in seven tries from 50 or more and the second-longest field goal ever in Heinz Field. In probably his last game with the Browns, Josh Cribbs totaled three returns for 49 yards. Bottom line: That fake punt would have been nice in the Indianapolis game, no?
Coaching: As usual, Pat Shurmur had his team fight to the end. This time, though, they actually fought and didn’t let the Steelers kick sand in their faces. Shurmur had no creativity on offense, though, probably the result of having to get Lewis ready for his first NFL start. After the game, Shurmur was emotionally drained with the loss and questions about his future. Bottom line: He said he wants to coach somewhere next season.
|Tony Grossi covers the Browns for ESPN 850 WKNR, ESPN 1540 KNR2 and www.espncleveland.com. |
He has covered the Browns with distinction since 1984 and is one of 44 voters for the National Football League Hall of Fame. Email your “Hey Tony” questions to firstname.lastname@example.org
Follow Tony on Twitter @tonygrossi
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