Sunday, November 25, 2012

Browns beat Steelers; finish Hate Weekend in a stinker

Well, on the bright side, the Browns beat Pittsburgh this weekend and the Buckeyes beat Michigan. Sure, the (world champion) Miami Heat came back to pull out a close victory over the scrappy Cavaliers in south Florida, but all-in-all, it was a pretty good weekend.

 The Browns D gets all the love this week.
(AP/ Mark Duncan)
Good results, but far from pretty. Certainly an ugly win is better than an ugly loss, but both football wins weren't the vision of football beauty this weekend. The nailbiter in Columbus was almost singlehandedly delivered by the Ohio State offense, which just couldn't put the Wolverines away despite a great defense effort. The Buckeyes' offense constantly stalled despite short fields, and it wasn't until just over a minute left when Carlos Hyde lunged forward for a final first down that the game was in hand.

But that was nothing compared to the Browns-Steelers game in Cleveland Sunday. One might say that the Steelers were severely hamstrung, starting geriatric third-string QB Charlie Batch. But they still bring the #1 ranked defense in the league, and given the Browns' struggles, a lousy game could be predicted. Which is exactly what fans got. The Steelers manage to turn the ball over eight times, and even recovered a few more of their own fumbles. But despite no offense whatsoever, the Steelers still scored two touchdowns, one off a tipped Brandon Weeden pass early in the first quarter, and one immediately after an end zone PI call that gave Pittsburgh 1st and goal from the one. And the Browns' D even stepped up and stuffed the Steelers there, but Chris Rainey bounced outside and scored with one second left in the first half. That, however, was the last time that Pittsburgh scored, as the Browns offense kept Pittsburgh severely in check for the entire game.

The Browns, likewise, were laughable on offense. Honestly, thinking back, there were three memorable Browns offensive plays this entire game. The first play of the game, where Josh Gordon took a short crossing pattern for a nice gain (unfortunately quickly followed up by Weeden's pick-six), Weeden-to-Cameron for a touchdown after a Steelers fumble (and a short Browns field), and a great Richardson 15-yard touchdown run up the middle (again, after a turnover and a short field). Other than that, it was a disaster. Take the 15 yard TD away from Richardson, and Trent averaged 2.5 yards on 28 carries. Uggh. Weeden averaged a McCoy'ian 6 yards per attempt, and looked clueless trying to go downfield. Speaking of Young Colt, he had to come in and mop up the mess when Weeden left late in the fourth quarter after a shot to the head.

This Browns win was delivered on the back of an amped-up, hard-hitting Browns defense taking its frustration out on the shorthanded Steelers. And that defense should have their steaks bought by the ineffective offense this week.

It wasn't pretty, but any weekend that includes wins over Pittsburgh and Michigan is OK in my book. Time for a late afternoon nap, and wondering what might have been for the Buckeyes, and whether to root for the Browns to win the rest of their games, or just improve their draft position. Sigh...