STEELERS SMASH BROWNS 24-0 IN SEASON OPENER
Steelman16 | August 5th 2008
Big Ben Roethlisberger extended his streak of zero losses against the Cleveland Browns yet again. This time he didn't have to do it alone. The extra offensive help the Steelers drafted paid off in the season opener.
In limited carries rookie runningback Rashard Mendenhall made his presence known - and felt - as he bruised his way upfield while spelling Willie Parker. Coming on the field for a long 2nd-down in the 1st quarter, Mendenhall took the handoff in the I-formation and quickly hit the hole on the right side. Breaking a tackle and bouncing outside, the rookie plowed through Browns corner Eric Wright knocking him out of the game while taking the carry for 17 tough yards. First down. Later in the 2nd quarter Mendenhall broke another inside tackle and burst upfield for a 20-yard gain.
Fellow rookie Limas Sweed missed the first pass that came his way, something that could be attributed to an adjustment period of depth perception after fixing an eye problem during Training Camp. He didn't have another pass his way until late in the 3rd quarter, catching a 9-yard out on a critical 3rd-down situation. Listed as the #4 reciever behind Nate Washington, Sweed may soon take over the #3 if Washington continues his trend of dropped passes. Washington dropped a key potential 40-yard pass on 3rd down early in the first quarter, as well as a pair of drops in the 4th quarter.
The Steelers defense looked stellar until inside 'mack' linebacker Larry Foote was carted off the field with a leg injury late in the 2nd quarter. Foote had piled up 5 tackles before the injury. Second-year linebacker Lawrence Timmons replaced him on the field. Timmons didn't finish with any tackles but looked confident and ready. According to Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin, Foote could be out for as long as 5 weeks. If Timmons plays to his first-round expectations, he could possibly uproot Foote from the starting job.
Browns quarterback Derek Anderson found himself running for his life, as the Steelers defense brought a revamped passrush in the form of James Harrison and second year linebacker, Lamarr Woodley. Anderson was forced to sit out a series after being caught in a James Farrior-Lamarr Woodley sandwich that piqued his throwing elbow. Woodley finished with 2 sacks and several hurries, as Anderson was limited to an interception by Polamalu and no touchdowns.
Runningback Jamal Lewis gained ground against the Steelers early in the game, but they soon shut him down, holding him to less than 50 yards of offense. Offseason aquisition Dante Stallworth had a less than stellar debut, catching only one pass for 11 yards, while dropping another.
Steelers runningback Willie Parker began slowly, but started to find the holes later in the game, puncing in a late touchdown to seal the victory.
"It was a nice victory against a division rival," Tomlin said, "But now we must prepare for Buffalo next week."
[Editors note: I downloaded the Madden 09 rosters for my 08 PC version. I started a new Steelers franchise. The above report was from the first game of the season. Hope you enjoyed it. I will be posting these from time to time, when I get the itch to write.