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Analyzing the Game: Collapse to Steelers

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What happened? I mean, we were either tied with or had the lead on the Steelers up until there were 32 seconds left in the game. Reality set in after the game, when the Browns suffered yet another collapse at the hands of the Pittsburgh Steelers. This was a game where we were supposed to avenge our 41-0 meltdown last year. We improved upon the performance, but we didn't want "just" an improvement: we wanted a win. And, in three weeks, we'll get another crack at it in prime time. When that game happens, this team better be prepared to fight for a win. Let's get to the breakdown of the game...

Weak Points(Why We Lost The Game)

  1. Goat of the Game: Romeo Crennel. It's not the player who gets it this week, but the coach who is running it all. His team definitely came to play, but we weren't able to put the nail in the coffin. The collapse was very similar to the way Tommy Maddox came back on Butch Davis' "prevent" defense in the postseason a few years back, something that spelled the beginning of the end of his tenure in Cleveland.
  2. No Pass Rush: Early in the game, when our pass rush wasn't too bad, we had some success against Big Ben. However, once the hurry up offense started, Roethlisberger could pass at will, similar to what Carson Palmer did to us earlier this season. Although our secondary didn't come up with a play, Roethlisberger will find someone in zone coverage after having tons of time to throw on every single play. Worst of all, when we did blitz with Andra Davis, he would get piefaced to the ground immediately, taking one of our defenders out of a play way too soon.
  3. Tough Breaks: Relating to the pass rush late in the game, we actually did get to Big Ben twice, but both turned out to be negative plays. Kamerion Wimbley's sack would've put the Steelers in a do-or-die situation, if not for a facemask penalty resulting in 15 yards and a first down. And, when Nick Eason had Roethlisberger "in-the-grasp", the refs failed to make the call of a sack, and he was able to throw the football away.
  4. Should've Been Six?: When Braylon Edwards caught the ball and made a defender miss, he was off to the races. It looked like a clear path to the end zone for him, but what happened? Troy Polamalu came rushing in and made the play on Edwards while taking a diagonal route. Some people think this shows Edwards is slow, but I think it's more of Polamalu being fast. Still, with how much room Braylon had, he needed to find a way to make him miss better than what he did.
  5. Dawson's Clanker: I'm still not quite sure why Phil Dawson's field goal attempt in the first quarter was much shorter than usual, clanking off the front of the bar and back out for a miss. Dawson needs to make that kick in our own stadium against a division rival.
  6. Joseph Andruzzi: Week after week, Andruzzi is the man who keeps letting Frye get killed. If he is our starting guard next year, then Browns fans should be outraged.
Strong Points(Why We Almost Won the Game)
  1. Player of the Game: Daven Holly. When I saw Holly in the preseason do a little first pump after making a tackle near the end of the game, something inside me said "I hope the Browns keep him on the roster as our final cornerback". Well, we did, and now he's filling in fairly well as our No. 1 cornerback, including two huge interceptions in the first half on Ben Roethlisberger. He capitalized on both of his opportunities, and was able to take one of them in for six.
  2. Hitting the Hole Quick: Well, it looks like Jason Wright knows how to hit a hole. Wright's success didn't come due to the offensive line playing better, it came from him knowing the right time to make a quick cut and take what they were giving him. More times than not, that ended up being a four-yard gain, a drastic improvement from Droughns' typical "stuffed at the line" runs. Wright's fumble definitely hurt, but at least he was stripped rather cleanly rather than just coughing it up for no reason (Droughns).
  3. The Little Calls: Offensively, everything still isn't settled, because the Browns obviously were still unable to put a touchdown on the board with their unit. However, there has been some progress of play calls that need to be included more often - sideline passes to Edwards, playaction rollouts to Vickers/Heiden, and throws to Jurevicius over the middle. It's too bad we can't put everything together by the time we get down near the red zone though, where I'll propose a new solution in my "general thoughts" section below.
  4. Taking it the Distance: Run Cribbs, Run! We knew that it would come one of these days, and this time the kicker was no match. I thought for sure that Cribbs' runback would have sealed the game for us, but unfortunately it only prevented our offense from possibly running the clock down a little more. The presence of Cribbs has made Cleveland's life on offense much easier after an opponent scores.
  5. Willie McGinest: After a dropped pass near the red zone by Hines Ward, McGinest made an outstanding, diving interception to prevent the Steelers from capitalizing on a big runback early in the game. This perhaps was McGinest's best game of the season, at least in the first half.
  6. Get Off Me: Kellen Winslow grabbing Joey Porter and tossing him down like a ragdoll was just as good as Brian Russell's amazing hit on Chad Johnson back in Week 2. Those plays leave a mark, but unfortunately we didn't throw it towards Winslow's direction enough.
  7. Run Defense: People around the league thought that Willie Parker was an automatic lock for 100+ yards against the Browns after what he did to the New Orleans Saints. Parker had two touchdowns, but the Browns shut him down the whole game by not allowing him to penetrate enough for the big play.
General Thoughts(Random Tidbits on the Game)
  1. Red Zone Philosophy: With the Browns recent struggles in the red zone, the team's new philosophy down there should focus on only one person: Kellen Winslow. Our success rate would probably be much greater if we hit him on a quick route every time, and let him muscle his way to a first down, and eventually into the end zone.
  2. Jason Wright or Reuben Droughns?: I was very surprised with Wright's effort against the Steelers, which draws up the question for this week's game against the Bengals: Wright or Droughns for the starter? I'm still hesitant on Wright's abilities since it was only one game, and the fact that he didn't do anything earlier this season against the Baltimore Ravens. However, if we get offensive line help next season and Droughns is our guy, it wouldn't be good to bench him now. I would want Droughns to start this week, but he should be spelled often and allow Wright to get as much work as Jerome Harrison did against the Steelers.
  3. Intensity: This game had a "good" intensity feel to it. It wasn't the stupidity of William Green getting into a fight before the game or Gerard Warren talking about "killing the head and the body is dead". Instead, the players on the field wanted to make a play and shove it right down the opposing team's throat. The players never wanted to lose this game, and although they lost, they never quit.
  4. Why Now?: Why did Santonio Holmes have to wait until he faced the Browns to have the best game of his career?
  5. Wait a Minute: I'm not against our coaching staff as some people are, because I think we'd be jumping the gun by dumping Crennel or Savage in just their second season. However, it is very frustrating to see a team like the 49ers one game behind the division lead, and with five wins at this point. And, the Dolphins, who have Joey Frickin' Harrington at quarterback are winners of three straight (although to Miami's credit, they do have a very potent defense). The Browns should not have a lower record than those teams, but we do. We've been more competitive as a whole than they have in all of their games, but those are the teams actually capitalizing when it comes to the fourth quarter of a game.
Ohio State won, but the Steelers beat the Browns, and that's the game that really matters in my eyes. We have the Bengals up next, and we have another legitimate shot because for the third week in a row, we're facing a weak secondary. In fact, the Bengals are probably worst than the Falcons and Steelers were. Unfortunately, it looks as if no one can stop Chad Johnson now - that is, until he gets a taste from the return of Leigh Bodden.