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|09-10-2007, 08:34 PM||#1|
Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: New Bedford, Pa
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Steelers Notebook- Cleveland
CLEVELAND -- The Steelers played them on Sunday afternoons, on Saturday nights and even in doubleheaders. Almost always, they came away losers.
Paul Brown took his old All-American Conference champion Cleveland Browns into the NFL in 1950 and dominated much more than the Steelers on way to championships in 1950, '54, '55 and '64.
But Pittsburgh, just 130 miles away, felt the sting more than others. The Steelers lost their first eight to the Browns and 16 of their first 18. At one point, they trailed in the series, 32-9.
The tide turned in the 1970s when the Steelers turned Super and yesterday they went over the top of the Browns for the first time. Their 34-7 victory at Cleveland Browns Stadium left the series at 56-55, Pittsburgh, including two playoff games, both Steelers victories.
"It's great to pull ahead," club chairman and Hall of Famer Dan Rooney said. "Paul Brown came in with his new offense and people were not accustomed to it. In the '60s and '70s, that's really when the rivalry got started."
Mike Tomlin also becomes the first Steelers coach to beat the Browns in his first meeting and the third consecutive coach to win his first game, following Chuck Noll in 1969 (Detroit) and Bill Cowher in 1992 (at Houston Oilers).
Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was sacked just once, although he scrambled and threw the ball away a number of times to avoid a sack.
Willie Parker ran 22 times for 109 yards. So the numbers say the Steelers' retooled offensive line earned a passing grade yesterday.
It went "fairly smoothly," guard Alan Faneca said. "We'll sit back and watch the film. ... We could have done better. I don't know how many sacks we gave up, but it feels like we gave up a few."
Willie Colon at right tackle and Sean Mahan at center were the new starters. With 6:55 left and victory well in hand, coach Tomlin pulled Faneca and inserted Chris Kemoeatu, and he replaced left tackle Marvel Smith with Max Starks.
Tomlin made some interesting decisions on his roster. He went with two fullbacks, including veteran Dan Kreider, who lost his starting job to young Carey Davis.
He also did not dress wide receiver Willie Reid, who at one point this summer figured to return punts and kickoffs. Instead, Allen Rossum, acquired in a trade from Atlanta on the final cut-down day, took over that spot. Rossum returned two punts for 7 yards and two kickoffs for 44 yards.
By not dressing Ricardo Colclough, Tomlin moved rookie cornerback William Gay ahead of him. Gay replaced an injured Deshea Townsend (groin) in the second half in the passing defenses.
And by not dressing tackle Trai Essex, it means that Starks likely will serve as the backup at both tackles. Rookie halfback Gary Russell did not dress, nor did rookie guard/center Darnell Stapleton and injured linebacker Marquis Cooper.
Brian St. Pierre, whose injured big right toe kept him from practicing until Friday, dressed as the No. 3 quarterback.
Every inch counts
It did not quite match the fake punt Cowher ordered in his first game with his team trailing, 14-0, in Houston that began a comeback and ended in victory in his first game, but Tomlin did make at least one tough call yesterday.
With his team ahead, 17-0, early in the fourth quarter and the ball on the Steelers' 48, Tomlin had his offense go for it on fourth-and-inches. Roethlisberger kept it for 2 yards.
"We feel good about our offensive line," Tomlin said. "Shoot, it was under 6 inches. That's just being cautiously aggressive ... we're going to play to win."
Off to a bad start
Cleveland punter Paul Ernster put his team in a hole from which it did not recover when he missed what appeared to be a perfect snap on the first possession of the game. Ernster recovered the ball, ran with it and then kicked it. The punt traveled 15 yards and gave the Steelers the ball on the Cleveland 32, from where they scored four plays later.
"I've never dropped the ball before," Ernster said. "It happens to every punter."
Ernster was a late addition to the Browns' roster because regular kicker Dave Zastudil was hurt.
"I worked out for them this week and they signed me Saturday," Ernster said. "It was tough to sign on Saturday and play Sunday. There are a lot of timing issues with a punter and a snapper and if you don't have the reps it's hard. I'm not going to sit here and make excuses because dropping the ball was my fault."
Including the 15-yarder, Ernster punted seven times and had a 35.6-yard average. Steelers punter Daniel Sepulveda averaged 37.2 yards on six kicks.
Off to a bad start, Part II
Browns linebacker Antwan Peek said he expected nothing like yesterday's 34-7 pasting.
"It's just unfortunate how hard we worked this preseason and in the offseason for the first game to turn out the way it did. The defense is supposed to bend, not break. Even though we were put in some tough situations in the preseason, we held teams to field goals. That's what I thought we'd do in the regular season. I didn't expect this at all."
From worse to bad
Browns starting quarterback Charlie Frye was pulled in the second quarter after a horrendous performance. He completed 4 of 10 passes for 34 yards and was sacked five times. His one interception set up a Steelers score.
"We just couldn't get anything going and he [coach Romeo Crennel] thought D.A. [Derek Anderson] would get the offense going and that's his decision to make," Frye said.
Anderson was an improvement but not by much. He completed 13 of 28 passes for 184 yards and a touchdown. He also threw an interception.
Frye's passer rating was 10.0, Anderson's 65.2.
Six Steelers had sacks -- James Harrison, Ike Taylor, James Farrior, Ryan Clark, Clark Haggans and Aaron Smith.
The Cleveland defense held Parker to 114 yards fewer than he gained against the Browns in their previous meeting, and he still got 109. Parker rushed for a franchise-record 223 yards against the Browns in December at Heinz Field.
The Browns have lost eight in a row and 21 of the past 24 games against the Steelers.
Jamal Lewis, in his Cleveland debut, managed only 35 yards on 11 carries. The Steelers have allowed only one 100-yard rusher in their past 45 games (Edgerrin James, then of Indianapolis).
The Browns put forth what coaches like to call a total team effort yesterday, getting critical mistakes from every direction, so it was no surprise that in addition to the six sacks they allowed, the six penalties they committed, the five turnovers they committed, the 2.9 yards-per-carry rushing average they established, and the fewer than 24 minutes of possession time they managed, they were 0 for 2 on replay challenges.
I like that, playing to Win!
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