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Old 01-01-2012, 08:55 AM   #1
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Default Game 16 Matchup: Steelers vs. Browns

Game 16 Matchup: Steelers vs. Browns
Gerry Dulac looks at the regular-season finale
Sunday, January 01, 2012
By Gerry Dulac, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

When the Browns have the ball: QB Colt McCoy has not started since he got a concussion on a hit from James Harrison in the first meeting. He will be replaced by Seneca Wallace, who has a stronger arm and fresher legs than McCoy but has been plagued by bad decision-making in his past two starts. The Browns have scored only eight TDs in seven homes games and are always playing from behind. They have scored only three first-quarter TDs. And, after going the first 13 games without a TD in the third quarter, they have scored one in each of the past two games. Pro Bowl LT Joe Thomas remains one of the best in the league, but former Pitt T Jason Pinkston has had to start at LG because of a season-ending back injury to G Eric Steinbach. Without Steinbach, the Browns do not have a competent pulling guard to get their backs to the outside. One of their best weapons has been K Phil Dawson, who has converted more attempts from 50 yards and beyond (7 of 8) than he has from 20-29 (6 of 8).

When the Steelers have the ball: QB Ben Roethlisberger will start and play only as long as necessary, but he needs to be productive. Since injuring his left ankle, he has produced only one touchdown and 10 points in six quarters. For the second week in a row, the Steelers will face one of the worst rush defenses in the league. However, the Browns have held Arizona's Beanie Wells (51) and Baltimore's Ray Rice (87) under 100 yards the past two games. RB Rashard Mendenhall has rushed for 256 yards (5.01 ypc) in the past three games. Pro Bowl C Maurkice Pouncey returns after a two-game absence -- significant because the Browns will line 330-pound DT Ahtyba Rubin over the center to clog the middle. The Browns allow 146.5 yards rushing because teams run at DEs Jabal Sheard and Jaymee Mitchell, who are more pass rushers than run stoppers. Sheard leads the team with 7 1/2 sacks. The Browns are tied for second in the league in pass defense (184.0 ypg), but part of the reason is because teams have so much success running against them.

Browns MLB D'Qwell Jackson ... The six-year pro out of Maryland leads the team and is second in the NFL with 145 tackles and should be the league's comeback player of the year. Jackson missed most of the past two seasons with a torn pectoral muscle -- he played only six games total -- but has not missed a game in 2011 and has been the steadiest player on a defense that ranks 10th overall in the NFL. Jackson missed 26 games in 2009 and '10, but he plays every down and has excelled in their 4-3 defense.

The Steelers won the first meeting, 14-3, Dec. 8 at Heinz Field and have won 15 of the past 16 and 20 of the past 22 meetings with the Browns, counting postseason. ... Mike Tomlin is 8-1 vs. the Browns since succeeding Bill Cowher. ... The Browns have lost five in a row and eight of their past nine under rookie coach Pat Shurmur. This is their first home game since Dec. 4. They are 3-4 at home. What's more, they are just 3-20 within the division the past three years. If they're looking for something positive, they are 4-1 in home season finales since 2002. ... The Steelers have won five of their past six games but are 4-3 on the road.
Next

Game: Steelers (11-4) at Cleveland Browns (4-11), Browns Stadium, Cleveland.
When: 4:15 p.m.
TV: KDKA.
Radio: WDVE-FM (102.5), WBGG-AM (970) and the Steelers Radio Network.
Favored: Steelers by 7.

To win, the Browns must ...

1 Not make mistakes by the lake. The Steelers don't have a takeaway in the past two games after having 10 in the previous four.

2 Order a Rubin sandwich. They will need good interior line play against Rashard Mendenhall, who is coming off his best three-game stretch of the season.

3 Get Browns on Brown. Antonio Brown made the big play in the first meeting and could make another against a special-teams unit that has allowed three TDs.

To win, the Steelers must ...

1 Put Peyton in his place. Their run defense already has allowed three 100-yard rushers, the most since they allowed four in 2003.

2 Have dibs on Cribbs. He returned a punt 84 yards for a touchdown against the Ravens, his first punt return for a TD since the 2009 season opener.

3 Not get sheared by Jabal. The former Pitt standout leads the team with 7 1/2 sacks and has improved against the run.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/12001...#ixzz1iDcHrog9
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Old 01-01-2012, 10:17 AM   #2
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Default Re: Game 16 Matchup: Steelers vs. Browns

it's really windy here in Cleveland.. the playing field is going to be more even without the threat of our deep passing game. this is not going to be an easy one. the Steelers are going to have to want it more today.
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Old 01-01-2012, 10:19 AM   #3
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Default Re: Game 16 Matchup: Steelers vs. Browns

absolutely, the Steelers are going to have to go out there playing to win. This isn't the same Browns team the Steelers kept beating up in the past decade. They are going to be out to beat the Steelers in every way they can.
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Old 01-01-2012, 12:13 PM   #4
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Default Re: Game 16 Matchup: Steelers vs. Browns

Weather forecast calling for wind gusts of 50mph and chance of snow late in the game. Hopefully we get up big early and have a sustained running game throughout.
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