Steelers Finish the Year 12-4 After Beating Lowly Browns

Big Ben returned after missing last week’s game against the Rams and led the Steelers to a 13-9 victory over the lowly Cleveland Browns. The game essentially turned out to be an exhibition as with the Ravens beating the Bengals today, the Steelers could not improve or hurt their playoff seeding and were locked into the 5th seed.  With a game being meaningless the one thing the Steelers really wanted to do more than win was avoid any key injuries. Unfortunately, that did not happen.  The Steelers may have lost Rashard Mendenhall for the postseason as he went down with a knee injury on the last play of the first quarter.  Mike Tomlin has already ruled Mendnehall out for next weeks’ playoff opener and sources are reporting the team fears it’s a torn ACL, which means his season is over.  That is the absolute last thing this team needed. With the team already banged up at some key positions, seeing your starting running back go down in the finale is never a good thing.  Isaac Redman ran the ball relatively effectively as he carried it 19 times for 92 yards, however he did lose two fumbles. You have to wonder  how many carries he’ll be afforded next week if he has butter fingers. You can lose the ball twice in your season finale and that’s one thing but losing it even once in a playoff game is a whole other ball game and will not be tolerated. 

With Mendenhall going down it obviously made sense to give the bulk of the carries to Redman but it was nice to see John Clay out there. He ran the ball hard and may establish himself as the goal to go running back as he seems like a good inside the tackles power runner.  In our pre game we asked the running backs to collectively run for 150 yards. They answered the call and rushed for 161.  Next week we may have to ask them not to fumble!

While it did make sense to run the ball a lot, and it made sense to give the bulk of the carries to Redman after the injury to Mendenhall; it did not make sense to keep Big Ben in the game the entire time. Once the game was officially meaningless, as in it was obvious the Ravens were going to beat the Bengals, Big Ben and many of the other stars, Troy, Harrison, Pouncey etc. should have been pulled. Many of them are fighting off injuries and why risk further harm where no good can come from anything you do?  That’s on Tomlin. Sure, the players want to be out there, what player wouldn’t want to? The bottom line is Tomlin is supposed to be captain of this ship and as captain he needs to take charge and do what’s best for the team as a whole and for the long haul. The best move was clearly to sit these guys in the 2nd half, at the very least  in the 4th quarter.  Sure, Tomlin lives by the ‘next man up’ slogan but that doesn’t always work. Just because you expect the backup to step up and play like the starter doesn’t mean that will happen. Who really thinks Charlie Batch can play like Ben Roethlisberger. It’s quite idiotic. While it may be a motivation tactic for the backups to step up, it can certainly backfire when you get your stars hurt and have them miss playoff games because of it. 

The defense stepped up and did their part again as they only allowed the Browns 9 points. That’s only 12 points total for the Browns vs. the Steelers this season, not bad at all. Lawrence Timmons led the way with 6 tackles, including a sack and Troy Polamalu had the play of the game with a beautiful 2nd half interception in which he completely jumped the receivers’ route. 

The defensive unit will be the key to the Steelers playoff run as they finished the year ranked #1 in the NFL and with the offense struggling to score a lot of points lately, coupled with Big Ben’s ankle injury it’s going to come down to the D playing good old fashioned Pittsburgh football. They showed they could do that today but come playoff time they won’t be facing the Cleveland Browns of the world so they’ll need to play harder, faster and focused. These guys have the experience and have proven several times over the years they can do it, so let’s hope they can again.


Star of the Game: We’ll give this one to Hines Ward. While in the grand scheme of things he wasn’t a real factor, he caught the 5 balls he needed to get 1,000 receptions for his career. He deserves the honor this week and he’s an all time Steeler and sure fire Hall of Famer.

Player to Cut: Shaun Suisham-We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again. He needs to go. He missed another field goal and led the NFL in misses this year. We have a very strong fear that he’s going to cost this team in the playoffs.

Injuries of Concern: Rashard Mendenhall appears to have torn his ACL and is likely done for the year.  Ramon Foster left with an undisclosed injury and the Steelers cannot afford more injuries to that O Line.

Notes: Hine Ward became only the 8th player in NFL history to reach 1,000 receptions.  Antonio Brown became the first player in NFL history to have 1,000 kick return and 1,000 receiving yards in the same year.  Ben Roethlisberger threw for 4,000 yards for the 2nd time in his career.

The Steelers will open the playoffs at Denver next Sunday at 4:30pm.                                                                                                                          


3 Comments on "Steelers Finish the Year 12-4 After Beating Lowly Browns"

  1. Kiki on Mon, 2nd Jan 2012 7:33 pm 

    I said from the beginning they should not have played Ben in this game since it didn’t mean anything, but at least they should have had him sit later in the game along with some others. On another note, I am so happy that Hines got his 1,000th catch. He deserves the honor and I hope he will be with the Steelers next year in some capacity. Yeah Hines!

  2. longarm on Thu, 5th Jan 2012 12:03 pm 

    Well we found out today that Ben reinjured his ankle sometime in the 3rd quater. Let’s just hope it doesn’t come back to bite us. Like you said that is on Tomlin…

  3. JohnnyDee on Thu, 5th Jan 2012 2:49 pm 

    Just glad they finished with a win. Hope they can advance in the playoffs.