An excellent all-around effort by the Pittsburgh Steelers brings the team a road victory over the Cleveland Browns by a final score of 27-11. Pittsburgh's defense forced four turnovers and scored a defensive touchdown en route to the victory.
The Steelers improve to 5-6 on the season and are right in the thick of the AFC wild-card race.
|Pittsburgh Steelers Game Grades|
|Positional Unit||1st-Half Grades||Final Grades|
|@ Cleveland, Week 12|
Final Analysis for the Pittsburgh Steelers
Pass Offense: It was about as efficient a day as Ben Roethlisberger could have had. Ben connected on 22 of his 34 throws for 217 yards and two scores. With a lead, the Steelers stuck to the ground game in the second half, making Roethlisberger little more than a manager.
Ben did a great job of running the offense today, and one of the reasons for that was the excellent play of the Steelers front five. The offensive line didn’t give up a single sack and gave Roethlisberger all the time he needed.
Run Offense: The Steelers ran for only 86 yards today, but they were very effective in closing out the game and providing a necessary change of pace for the offense that hasn’t been there in a few weeks. Le’Veon Bell again led the Steelers with 80 yards on 23 carries.
Pittsburgh ran the ball constantly in the second half, allowing the Browns to stuff eight and nine guys in the box, but they were effective enough to close out the game. The Steelers appear to be improving their ground game a little bit every week.
Run Defense: Excellence was achieved by the Steelers run defense in this game, holding the Browns to a meager 55 total rushing yards on the day. The Steelers also forced three fumbles.
Chris Ogbannaya found some room in the first half, but following his fumble, Cleveland handed over the reins to Fozzy Whittaker. He couldn’t get much done. Even with Steve McLendon and Brett Keisel out of the lineup, the Steelers managed to get it done today.
Pass Defense: The numbers for the Cleveland Browns passing game may look good, but most of their success came in garbage time when the game was already out of hand. Pittsburgh got great pressure on both Jason Campbell and Brandon Weeden all afternoon and forced their first defensive touchdown in 16 games.
The Steelers didn’t really have an answer for Josh Gordon, and that’s something they’ll have to work on for their Week 17 matchup, but otherwise, it was a solid day from the Steelers secondary.
Special Teams: Again, there's not much to say about the Steelers special teams. However, that may be a good thing. Brown was solid on returns all afternoon while the coverage unit did their job. Roethlisberger even had a pooch punt that pinned the Browns inside their own 5-yard line.
Coaching: On the defensive side, the scheme was tremendous. The quarterbacks barely had any time to throw the ball and the defense played very well. The offensive game plan was shaky, but effective. They went a little too run-heavy at the end of the game and it seemed like they were trying to run out the clock with nearly 12 minutes left.
First-Half Analysis for the Pittsburgh Steelers
Pass Offense: Despite the swirling winds and light snow, Ben Roethlisberger has played an excellent half. He hit on 16 of his 23 passes for 171 yards and one touchdown. That touchdown came on a pass to Antonio Brown who has reeled in five catches for 83 yards in the half.
It’s amazing how much Pittsburgh has attacked Joe Haden considering how well he played against the Bengals last week, but so far, it’s worked. The Steelers should be continue to run the ball in the second half in order to protect their lead, but the pass game should still be involved.
Run Offense: It has been a very good first half for the Steelers run game, especially when the Browns' ability to stuff the ground attack is taken into consideration. Le’Veon Bell has carried for 43 yards on just 10 attempts and has shown just how powerful he can be.
The Steelers have had a tendency to abandon the run late in recent games, but with a lead to protect and the conditions worsening in Cleveland, look for them to turn to Bell as the game wears on.
Run Defense: The entire Steelers defense has played very well in the first half against the Browns. Up front, they’ve given up some big runs to Chris Ogbannaya, but a timely Troy Polamalu forced fumble led to a Steelers field goal before the half.
Cleveland ran the ball for just 38 yards in the first half. The Steelers have held early, but there are some holes they need to patch up in the second half. All in all, it was a good performance.
Pass Defense: Today’s first half was a far cry from the first half Pittsburgh’s secondary put together last week against Detroit. Jason Campbell has been held to just 108 yards and the pressure has been there, forcing Campbell out of the game at one point.
Josh Gordon has been Campbell's go-to receiver so far in this game, and Ike Taylor has given him a pretty sizable cushion. Look for Campbell to target Gordon again in the second half with the Browns playing from behind.
Special Teams: There hasn't been much to talk about in terms of special teams. Mat McBriar continues to whiff on punts, even with the wind at his back. Antonio Brown did have a nice punt return at one point, but the coverage team hasn’t been especially good.
Coaching: The Steelers came out very run-heavy and conservative, but since then, the offense has greatly improved. There’s been a good mix of plays that’s kept the Browns defense off-balance. Defensively, they’re doing a great job of putting the ball in Campbell’s hands and forcing him to make plays.
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