Monday, November 12, 2007

I've Collected My Thoughts....

....and here we go. The first Browns drive of the game was about the best drive in the history of the new Browns. First time getting the ball in Pittsburgh, crowd amped, and Derek Anderson and company literally performed surgery on the Steelers D. 16 plays, 71 yards, 3-3 on third downs, took 8:55 off the clock, and Derek Anderson hit Kellen Winslow for a TD. It was a thing of beauty and sucked the life out of the crowd.

Braylon Edwards continues to make the impossible catch look easy and the easy catch look hard. The Steelers did an excellent job of shutting the Browns big play guy down. His only catch was the 16 yard toe-tapping TD that put the Browns up 21-6. Anderson had a hard time getting him the ball the rest of the game.

Give Mike Tomlin credit. Unlike his counterpart Romeo Crennel, he made halftime adjustments that literally shut the Browns potent offense down. The Browns didn't have a first down in the second half until the final drive of the game, which started with 1:04 left in the game. Tomlin and Dick Lebeau's D went to the Patriots vs. Peyton Manning defense. They played way off the receivers and didn't allow themselves to get beaten deep, giving up the short stuff which never hurt them. The Browns offense failed to score a point in the second half.

Romeo Crennel deserves a ton of heat for this loss. It's bad enough that he was completely outcoached in the second half by Tomlin, but his waste of not one, but two timeouts on a review that was clearly a TD was a mistake of colossal proportions. Heath Miller's fourth quarter TD was a no doubt catch, but Romeo decided he needed more time to look at it, burning a timeout. Then after wasting it, he challenges the play, costing his team another timeout? The Browns were about to get the ball back with less than four minutes to play. As it turned out, they were extremely costly, as the Browns only had 1:04 to work with on the final drive to tie the game. Two more yards or eight more seconds and the Browns are in OT.

Thanks Darnell Dinkins! Because of your holding penalty on the final Steelers punt, the Browns started on their own 39 instead of the Steelers 38. Think that cost them a bit? Dawson's kick was from 53 yards, as in it was snapped from the Steelers 36. The kick fell a yard short.

Boy is Brodney Pool slow. Ben Roethilisberger made him look silly on his third and 10, 30 yard TD run in the fourth. Although, he made the entire Browns D look silly in that fateful second half. As much as I can't stand him, I've got to give Big Ben credit. He won the game for the Steelers, pure and simple.

The game changed on one play. Jamal Lewis' third quarter fumble. After the Browns held the Steelers and forced a punt, Lewis coughed it up in Browns territory, setting the Steelers up. Roethlisberger hit Hines Ward for a 12 yards TD and just like that it was 21-16, the momentum had shifted, the crowd was back in the game, and the Browns O couldn't move the ball.

Joshua Cribbs is unbelievable. Thank goodness for him. Nothing like having two kickoff returns of 97 yards or more in the same game on a field where the turf is like running on sand. He set up the Browns second TD and scored one of his own when the Steelers took their first lead of the game in the fourth quarter. They would have been sunk without him. The 100 yard TD return was the stuff of legend. He bobbled the ball and was forced to bring it out of the endzone with Steeler defenders all over him. Next thing you know, he is tip-toeing down the sidelines and was gone. He is the best kick-returner in Browns history and the best in the NFL not named Devin Hester.

This would have been such a big win, but alas, the Cleveland curse kicked in. The biggest deficit overcome this year in the NFL was 15 points. The Steelers tied that yesterday. The win would have given the Browns a share of the lead in the AFC North. While I am not much for moral victories, and I don't think there is such a thing as a "good loss," this is as close as you can get to both considering how the Steelers abused the Browns Week One in Cleveland. Now the Browns must regroup and go to Baltimore to play the offensively challenged Ravens.

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