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Game Sixteen: Clinching the Two-Seed with Ease, Steelers Crush Browns 41-9

After laying an egg in Cleveland last December, the Steelers made sure this time with a lot more riding on it, they would not have any questions about losing to the Browns.

Needing a win to make sure they walked away with the AFC North title and a first-round bye, the Steelers laid out the Browns, winning easily 41-9 with most of the starters leaving the field with about 5 and a half minutes left in the third quarter.

The win means the team will get the bye week they wanted, and then will host an AFC team on either Saturday, January 15th or Sunday, January 16th at Heinz Field.

“I’m not surprised,” Steeler LB Larry Foote said. “We had more to play for. They talk about going out with a good game, but the truth is their cars are packed up, they’re on the last month of their lease. We had more at stake.”

The win was as dominant as any this year, as they started fast, building a 14-0 lead after one quarter, and then going into the locker room in the half up 31-3.

They scored on their first offensive play when Ben Roethlisberger hit WR Mike Wallace with a 56-yard TD just :43 seconds in, and the offense was off and running from there.

Other than a short Phil Dawson field goal for the Browns :17 seconds into the second quarter, and a garbage TD in the fourth, the Steelers crushed them on both sides of the ball. They scored four touchdowns (two Roethlisberger passes, two Rashard Mendenhall runs), and got a 41-yard field goal from Shaun Suisham to make it 31-3 at the break.

The Steelers got the ball to start the second half, and Roethlisberger allowed someone else to throw a score, as Antwaan Randel-El threw a short 3-yard TD to Hines Ward with 7:18 left in the half to make it 38-3. They added another field goal to put them at the final total of 41.

It was the most points Cleveland had allowed this season, the highest total before that was the Steelers first win over the Browns in October when they scored 28.

Roethlisberger left when the Steelers got the ball with 5:34 to play in the third quarter, and was 15-for-22 for 280 yards with 2 touchdowns and a QB rating of 141.3.

Mendenhall had just 36 yards on 14 carries, but two scores. Wallace caught three passes for 105 yards and a score, and Heath Miller and rookie WR Antonio Brown each had five catches.

The Steelers outgained the Browns 418 to 225, and sacked Colt McCoy four times, and had three picks. They also controlled the ball for 33:14 to 26:46.

So now the team will get a much needed rest. Polamalu, Roethlisberger and the vets get some time off to heal up, and hopefully that will also mean the return of Aaron Smith to the already very solid defense when they take the field in about two weeks.

Matt Loede has been in the sports media for over 16 years, with experience covering the MLB, NBA, and NFL. On Sunday’s during football season, you can hear Matt on national networks like Fox Sports Radio, Associated Press, and others. Born and raised in Cleveland Ohio, Matt studies and talks football inside and out, and is anxious to share his thoughts and comments with readers on a daily basis.



  1. DrGeorge

    January 2, 2011 at 7:12 pm

    The Win is grand, and the score was unexpected, but the more important thing is the way the Steelers offense performed. Contributors to this site finally saw the coaches do what we have been pleading for all year: the offense was not predictable (there were more gadget plays in this game than we saw all year); Ben did not eschew the short pass (in fact, his success in hitting open receivers short was a more significant development in Ben’s maturity than the bomb to Wallace)and he played within himself, as part of the total offense; Arians was at least willing to run the ball, especially in the red zone and the Steelers in fact scored in the red zone; and the offensive line was far more crisp in run blocking and (amazing!) pass blocking. We still didn’t see enough of Redman and power running game, but the addition of Lugursky as a power blocker for Mendenhall paid dividends.

    The defense played better too with the return of Polamalu, as we all expected. Our pass rush remains a work in progress. McCoy was sacked, but generally had time to throw the ball, and the rookie was accurate when he wasn’t harrassed. Against a disspirited Brown’s O-line, we did stuff the run, as expected. In short, the D was solid.

    However, as I commented here two weeks ago, our defense really can’t play much better than this with the talent they have. What we really needed was for the offense to step up and take some of the pressure off the D and control the clock. For the first time this year, the Offense did just that. It lived up to its potential. Yes, it can become much better than this. But going into the playoffs, this performance was solid and pretty damned impressive.

  2. mark

    January 2, 2011 at 8:29 pm

    Have to agree DrGeorge. I like going into the playoffs with the team playing this well. Sure, they have beaten a couple of poor teams, but they took care of business in those games. The much-maligned O-line has played very well the past 3 games and they are going to have to be at there best now. I like where the pass defense is right now as well. Again, the past 3 games have been very impressive for them too. Confidence is high and that can only help in 2 weeks time. My question to all my fellow Steeler friends on the site is: What road do you want the Steelers to take in getting to the Super Bowl? In other words, who are you rooting for next week to be the Steeler/Patriot opponents and why????

    • DrGeorge

      January 3, 2011 at 10:20 am

      Good question, Mark. My thoughts are not terribly original, but here they are for argument’s sake.

      Colts, Chiefs, Ravens — we can beat any of them. The team I hope we don’t play is the Ravens, not because of how good they are, but of how much punishment the two teams take when they meet. I believe the AFC North is the toughest division in the NFL, and I’d rather see our teams beat up somebody else for a change.

      I would prefer to see the Ravens play New England; they match up well with them defensively, much better than the Steelers secondary. If we wind up playing the Ravens, we’re likely be tired and bruised for whoever comes next, probably NEngland. And no one wants to play T. Brady and Co. at less than their best, especially on defense.

  3. mark

    January 3, 2011 at 11:43 am

    Yes, I can see that scenario DrGeorge. My thinking is this: If the Chiefs come to town, its fresh off of beating the Ravens wich can make them confident and dangerous. If the Colts come to town, Its Peyton Manning on a 5 game win streak and passing teams can still give our secondary trouble. Especially teams with a Peyton Manning! If the Ravens come to town, its phsyical and familiar which works both ways. I guess my choice is the Chiefs in the Divisional round and let the Patriots play the Jets. Maybe the Jets can bounce back from that butt-kicking last month and actually give the Patriots a game. At least the Jets would be confident after having beaten the Colts in Indy. Of course us Steeler fans want the AFC title game in Pittsburgh, but if we have to go to New England I want the team healthy and prepared to be physical with Mr. Brady. I do agree that we can beat any team that we play in the Div. round, but I dont want our fellow bloggers to overlook the fact that the Steelers have to play 1 game before this AFC title game with the “ordained” New England Patriots. Rest and preperation should make the Steelers a winner in the Div. Rd, but whoever they play you can bet they will be confident in giving us trouble!

    • DrGeorge

      January 4, 2011 at 3:54 pm

      Yes, Mark, that would be the preferred scenario. Unfortunately, I don’t think the Chiefs can beat the Ravens, unless the Ravens self-destruct. And the way the Jets played in the last few games (they aren’t playing at the same level as when they beat the Steelers), I don’t think they can beat New England, assuming they somehow manage to get by Indy.

      To me, the worst scenario is for the Ravens and Steelers to have to play each other a third time, and then turn around the next weekend and play New England in Foxboro. But that’s the likely scenario as I see it, and of all the AFC teams, the Steelers or Ravens seem to me the only teams capable of beating New England at home. In the wind and cold of a Foxboro winter, only a team with an effective ground attack is going to beat the Pats. That’s why I have beat on Arians so insistently to perfect the power running game. He didn’t, and I fear we’re going to pay the price in the playoffs because of it, sooner or later.

      Now I will go a bit further out on the limb: I think the AFC champion is going to win the Super Bowl. None of the NFC teams look good enough to beat any of the top four AFC teams, all else being equal. That seems to be the view of the professional betting line, too. But the Super Bowl isn’t a best of seven or best of five series. It is a one game championship, winner take all. And in that scenario, anything can happen, and often does. It will fun to watch.

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