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Cliff Notes: Reflecting on the 27-14 Loss to Pittsburgh Before the Packers Game

 (Cue music)

I'm back! It was painful having to go through this week without the ability of providing content at my own convenience, but everything is back to normal and the game thread will be up tomorrow morning for the Browns' contest against the Packers.

Before that game though, I want to go back quickly and provide a cliff notes version of my take on the Browns' 27-14 loss to the Steelers last Sunday. The game was closer than it should've been thanks to Joshua Cribbs' touchdown return. I'm grateful that I was able to at least feel like the Browns had a chance to come back half-way through the third quarter. After the Browns failed to capitalize on several Steeler turnovers in a row though, it was inevitable that Pittsburgh would put together a game-sealing drive.



  1. Goat of the Game: Many of you agreed with this following the game, so I'm going to go with CB Brandon McDonald. I'm still intrigued by McDonald's abilities, but shifting him to the nickel back position is the right thing to do. He made his mark at that position during his rookie season -- he handled the (lack of) pressure better and was able to focus on breaking for the ball more often. I'd love to see Coye Francies receive a starting opportunity due to his physical nature, but he hasn't even been active the past couple weeks.
  2. Awarding a Game Ball: Again, this one goes to Joshua Cribbs. As stated in the introduction, Cribbs kept the Browns in the game. I really liked the extent to which we used him in the Wildcat during the first quarter, and I was happy to see him throw the ball twice. While some fans disagreed with me, I still say that Cribbs' first pass attempt to Chansi Stuckey was thrown well enough for him to catch it a slight run and take off. Cribbs' second pass was ugly, but also understandable when you consider his lack of in-game throws, the pressure that came on the play, and that Troy Polamalu was the intercepting player.
  3. Vickers' Unusual Trend: When Lawrence Vickers caught his one-yard touchdown against the Steelers, I thought, "gee, this looks familiar." Sure enough, after looking at his career stats, Vickers now has three career receiving touchdowns. One game this past Sunday against the Steelers, and the other two came two years ago -- both of them also against the Steelers. Note to self for fantasy sleeper in the future: play Vickers against the Steelers!
  4. Anderson's Day: The same excuse can be used as two weeks ago that receivers dropped passes, but now it's time to start focusing on Derek Anderson's accuracy more. It can't be difficult for him to take a little bit off of his throws. Seriously -- are we expected to believe that this many drops are happening in practice too? The quarterback-receiver relationship needs to improve across the board, because someone needs to get the message across to Anderson.
  5. Robiskie's Playing Time: Right now, Chansi Stuckey has been horrible. On five targets, I think he's dropped the ball four times. What is the deal? This is not a player who dropped the ball with the Jets, and he did have Brett Favre throwing to him last year. Brian Robiskie caught the ball twice, but landed just barely out of bounds on one of them. Robiskie should receive more reps this week; anyone who catches the ball at this point deserves to be playing.
  6. Bowens Steps Up: In place of Kamerion Wimbley, LB Jason Trusnik saw a lot of action but was very quiet in terms of having an impact. David Bowens was active quite often early on though, registering a sack and then later recovering a fumble.
  7. Chalk Another One Up: Another game as a member of the Browns against the Steelers, and another disappointing effort against them by Jamal Lewis. We won't beat Pittsburgh until we have a respectable rusher who can at least muster a 3.5 average against them.
  8. Blown Call: At first, I didn't rush judgment on the referees with the first-down call because I thought a first-down came at the end of the last chain link. After reading this from the referee who made the call after the game though, it's clear that the Browns were screwed: "If the nose of the ball touches the stake, it's a first down." This is literally the easiest call a referee can make, and how he blew this one is unbelievable. If it had been a contending team, the media would've made a much bigger issue out of this.
  9. Annoying Announcers: Kevin Harlan and Soloman Wilcots have shifted to the "bad announcing crew list".
  10. Down the Field: After Anderson's one successful drive to Mohamed Massaquoi, the Steelers made the adjustment by positioning their safeties deep. That kind of screwed Anderson then, because it meant that he was doomed to failing to capitalize on the shorter routes the rest of the way.

So far, I am doing fairly well picking the Browns this year with a 4-1 record, and my record for overall NFL predictions is fantastic compared to the past few years. I've made my share of upset picks, and something inside of me is telling me that we could be in for a surprise shootout Sunday against the Packers. Will it result in a victory though? Find out in Sunday's game preview!