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Old 10-18-2009, 11:05 PM   #1
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Default Starkey: Comedy of errors at Heinz Field

Starkey: Comedy of errors at Heinz Field
By Joe Starkey
Monday, October 19, 2009

Ten takes on the Steelers' 27-14 victory over the Cleveland Browns ...

No. 10: Only explanation for what happened at the end of the third quarter: The Browns dragged everybody in the building to their level. Which is awfully low. There were five turnovers on the final 12 snaps. "I was like, what the (heck) is going on?" said Steelers nose tackle Casey Hampton. The sequence went like this: A Ben Roethlisberger interception, followed by a Derek Anderson fumble, followed by a Willie Parker fumble (Parker was tackled by a blade of grass on the previous play), followed by another Anderson fumble, followed by a Rashard Mendenhall fumble. When the quarter mercifully ended on Mendenhall's gaffe, referee Walt Anderson delivered the topper, announcing to the crowd: "That's the end of the first quarter."

No. 9: It was ugly, all right, but guess what? All those meaningless power polls that had the Ravens ranked No. 1 in the NFL a few weeks ago, and the Bengals rising fast, look silly now. Teams prove themselves over four months, not four games.

No. 8: The Steelers need the Lawrence Timmons who showed up yesterday. The explosive version. The guy who finished with a team-best five solo tackles, two sacks and two forced fumbles. "He was very intense," said teammate James Farrior. "He had a good idea of what they were doing, and it showed. That's what we're going to be expecting from him every week."

No. 7: Jeff Reed said his "best kickoff of the year" was the one Josh Cribbs returned 98 yards for a second-quarter touchdown. It was Cribbs' third career return for a score against the Steelers. After that, Reed said he was under strict orders to avoid Cribbs on kickoffs.

No. 6: If I'm playing the Browns, my kicker's under strict orders to keep the ball at least 20 yards away from Cribbs. As Reed put it: "He's pretty much their offense." Cribbs might have scored twice, but punter Daniel Sepulveda - conjuring his days as a walk-on linebacker at Baylor - made a shoestring tackle on a first-quarter punt return.

No. 5: You know it's not a great day for the running game when the two longest runs are by a quarterback (Roethlisberger, 13 yards) and a wide receiver (Mike Wallace, 21 yards).

No. 4: Roethlisberger's 13-yard scramble was his longest run since a 17-yarder in last year's opener against Houston. His career-long was 30 yards, for a touchdown, against the Browns in a comeback victory two years ago at Heinz Field. Lots of Steelers found more space than usual yesterday. Santonio Holmes had his longest reception (41 yards) of the season; Hines Ward had his longest (52) since '06; and Heath Miller his longest (25) in a regular-season game since '07 at Denver.

No. 3: In the past two games, the Browns have more drops (14) than completions (11). Geez, even Steelers defensive end Brett Keisel dropped an Anderson pass.

No. 2: Cleveland fullback Lawrence Vickers scored the third touchdown of his four-year NFL career. All have come against the Steelers, on receptions covering a total of four yards. Vickers better watch it. If he starts scoring too much, the Browns will trade him.

No. 1: Adrian Peterson, Brett Favre and the Minnesota Vikings are up next. "I think this will probably be the best offensive team we'll face," Farrior said. "That's what it's all about. It's going to be a real football game right there."

Yeah, as opposed to the one that took place yesterday.

Joe Starkey can be reached at jstarkey@tribweb.com or 412-320-7810.
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