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Tony Grossi's Take: It was not a cheap win for the Browns' defense

Nov 25, 2012 -- 7:14pm

By Tony Grossi


Tony’s Take on the Browns 20-14 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers

Offense: Give them credit for one thing. After Brandon Weeden’s Pick 6 on the opening series, there were no turnovers. Which is amazing considering the Steelers had an epidemic of them. Brandon Weeden persevered and emerged as only the second rookie quarterback to defeat a Dick LeBeau defense in 16 games since 2004. Trent Richardson averaged 2.9 yards on 29 rush attempts, but had a 15-yard TD run. Otherwise, his rush average was 2.5. Oh, well. Bottom line: Good enough to hang on.

Defense: The thing about their eight takeaways is they were all forced. It wasn’t like the four running backs just dropped the ball. All the three interceptions were contested defensive plays and no gimmes. The second game back with tackles Phil Taylor and Ahtyba Rubin had a big impact on the Steelers’ running game. They were held to 49 yards on 20 attempts (2.5) average and had no run longer than eight yards. The defense held the Steelers to 1 for 9 on third down conversions. Bottom line: A surreal, 60-minute game.

Special teams: Reggie Hodges landed five of his 10 punts inside the 20 and finished with a respectable net average of 37.8. Phil Dawson nailed his two field goal attempts, giving him 21 made in a row this year and 27 over last season. Returner Josh Cribbs was quiet. But the turnovers helped the Browns have an average drive start at the 41-yard line – an amazing 19-yard advantage over the Steelers. Bottom line: Very solid day of coverage.

Coaching: This may have been the first game of the year in which not a single decision made by Pat Shurmur could be second-guessed. Hats off to Dick Jauron for besting his best friend, Dick LeBeau, for the first time in three Browns-Steelers meetings. Bottom line: Shurmur’s first win over Pittsburgh and second this year in the division, with one to go.

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 tgrossi@espncleveland.com

Follow Tony on Twitter @tonygrossi

 

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