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Old 11-12-2007, 06:04 AM   #1
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Default Browns good, but resilient Steelers better

By John Harris
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Monday, November 12, 2007

So, the Steelers didn't crush the Cleveland Browns like an aluminum can. That's more to the Browns' credit than the Steelers' discredit.
Cleveland's transformation from a season-opening, 34-7 patsy to the Steelers was almost as remarkable as the Steelers' 31-28 comeback win Sunday over the rejuvenated Browns at Heinz Field.

Almost, but not quite.

The Steelers, who trailed, 21-9, at halftime, had no business winning. They somehow managed to overcome their own mistakes to beat a good football team. But that's what 7-2 teams do. They find ways to win.

"This was a great win," running back Willie Parker said. "It's the first time we came from behind."
You had to be standing on the sideline to fully understand how much this game meant to the Steelers.

It was a telling moment when Phil Dawson's potential game-tying, 52-yard field goal into the wind at the open end of the stadium landed well short of the crossbar with six seconds remaining.

The guys wearing black jerseys whooped and celebrated like they had just knocked off the unbeaten Patriots.

The Browns used to be the forgotten stepchild of the AFC North. The Steelers under former coach Bill Cowher beat up on the Browns.

The Steelers have won nine in a row over the Browns, with new coach Mike Tomlin winning the past two. But these are not the same old Browns, if Sunday's Thriller by the River is any indication.

"We all knew it was going to be a tough game," left tackle Marvel Smith said. "Nobody was expecting a blowout. People outside the locker room said that. It's been a rivalry for years. We knew they were going to give us their best shot. Neither team was going to lay down. You knew it was going to come down to the end."

The Steelers won by the length of a long missed field goal yesterday. You can't win every game 38-7, the final score of the Steelers' Monday night win over Baltimore.

The Steelers' offense is more opportunistic than explosive. And the defense, stout as it may be, isn't perfect.

As a result, the Steelers won't always be on top of their game. The trick is finding ways to win the tough games, such as yesterday's when the Steelers couldn't seem to get out of their own way in the first half.

Tomlin's halftime message was straight and to the point: Just keep playing.

"We were down, 21-9, at halftime. That's nothing," inside linebacker Larry Foote said. "We didn't really have to scream or shout. Coach Tomlin called it earlier this week. He said it's going to be an ugly victory. Coming off a big Monday night game and short week, let's just get the victory."

As for making halftime adjustments, who needs them?

Not the Steelers, who continued to run the football even when they still trailed by double digits in the third quarter and Najeh Davenport's run on second-and-23 failed to net a yard and was met with a cascade of boos from anxious fans.

"That's Pittsburgh Steelers football," wide receiver Nate Washington said. "They can stack 11 in the box and we're still going to run the ball."

The Steelers outscored Cleveland, 22-7, in the second half on the strength of three touchdowns. The defense held the Browns scoreless after yielding three first-half touchdowns; special teams whiz Joshua Cribbs scored on a 100-yard kickoff return in the fourth quarter.

Outside linebacker James Harrison swung the momentum in the Steelers' favor when he stripped the ball from running back Jamal Lewis and cornerback Ike Taylor recovered at the Cleveland 38.

In the Steelers' huddle, Washington said a fierce calm settled over the players.

"I looked around the huddle, (and) it was in everybody's eyes this was no lay-down game," Washington said. "We weren't going to lay down, no matter what was going wrong against us."

"They've got a lot of confidence," Foote said of the 5-4 Browns, "they're just not ready for us yet."

The Steelers, apparently, are ready for anything.
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Old 11-12-2007, 04:39 PM   #2
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Default Re: Browns good, but resilient Steelers better

The Browns are a few defensive players away from being seriously competitive not only in the AFCN, but in the NFL as a whole. I am very impressed by the leaps and bounds they've made as an offense from Week 1 and in the first half yesterday, they looked very strong. They just have to develop the mindset that you don't stop playing with a 12 point cushion - you've got to play 60 minutes to even have a shot at winning a game, especially against a team like the Steelers.

Kudos to the Browns for bringing it (at least in the first half) to OUR house and showing us that you are going to be a force to be reckoned in the very near future.
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Old 11-12-2007, 07:50 PM   #3
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Default Re: Browns good, but resilient Steelers better

That's very nice sportsmanship, HG, but I have to say that I'm just not convinced by the Browns. They are clearly better than before, but in yesterday's game they really only had one good drive, two if you want to count the one that ended in a missed field goal. For the most part, they were beneficiaries of terrible mistakes by the Steelers.

Watching the game yesterday, there was never a doubt in my mind that the Steelers would win. That's not just because I am an avid Steelers fan; it's also because I just knew the Browns aren't there yet.
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Old 11-12-2007, 08:03 PM   #4
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Default Re: Browns good, but resilient Steelers better

Quote:
Originally Posted by I.C. Lights View Post
That's very nice sportsmanship, HG, but I have to say that I'm just not convinced by the Browns. They are clearly better than before, but in yesterday's game they really only had one good drive, two if you want to count the one that ended in a missed field goal. For the most part, they were beneficiaries of terrible mistakes by the Steelers.

Watching the game yesterday, there was never a doubt in my mind that the Steelers would win. That's not just because I am an avid Steelers fan; it's also because I just knew the Browns aren't there yet.
That game, earlier this year or last year would have been a 10 to 17 point win by the Steelers.

The Browns are worthy of respect now... if only I cared enough to respect them!
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Old 11-12-2007, 08:13 PM   #5
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Default Re: Browns good, but resilient Steelers better

Thanks to those who are giving nice word to the Browns, I wish I could give them to the HC. It is his mindset since he came to Cleveland in my humble opinion, to gain a lead then protect it. He refuses to build on it just tries to protect it and burn the clock.

Thus the flat 2nd half of Sundays game. Again just my opinion. But thanks again for trying to make us feel good about the loss.

And HTG thanks for the avy, not to bad, I think.
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Old 11-12-2007, 08:15 PM   #6
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Default Re: Browns good, but resilient Steelers better

"The Browns are worthy of respect now... "

Maybe over-hyped ESPN-like respect, but not mine.
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