The Steelers were looking to right the ship after four straight losses, following a 4-1 start, and the Cleveland Browns were just what the doctor ordered. The Pittsburgh Steelers had come to the proverbial fork in the road having, literally, one of two choices to make. Either their season could continue on it’s downward spiral, or the Steelers could dig their collective heels in and take back control of their season. Unfortunately for the Browns, the Steelers chose the latter of the two options, bringing their most physical defensive performance of the season with them as well. Maybe all it took was the arrival of cold, wintery weather, Steeler weather, to wake up the defense.
Defense Rules The Day
The Steelers defense entered Sunday’s game against Cleveland with a league low 13 sacks, nine off the pace that they had going last season. Having given up a 30-29 lead to Dallas last week, with 42 seconds left in the game, they were looking to hit the reset button, much to the dismay of Cody Kessler and Josh McCown. The defense quickly made the Browns offense one dimensional by shutting down their running game, holding them to 33 yards on 13 carries. From there, Keith Butler’s much maligned unit teed off on Kessler and McCown, racking up 8 sacks and forced two turnovers. The first turnover came by way of Artie Burn’s second interception, and the last of which was a strip sack by Ryan Shazier that was recovered by Javon Hargrave for a touchdown. This was the defensive performance we have been waiting to see all season, and hopefully it’s one the Steelers will continue to build on.
LeVeon Bell Too Much For Browns
If everything the Steelers did on offense seemed to run through LeVeon Bell, it’s because it mostly did. Bell had a phenomenal afternoon on the ground with 146 yards and a touchdown on 28 carries. Through the air, Bell caught another 8 balls for 55 yards, giving him 36 touches for 201 total yards on the day. The weather conditions in Cleveland on Sunday are exactly the reason why the Steelers need a running back the caliber of LeVeon Bell. When the weather conditions are too adverse for the franchise quarterback to carry the day, the franchise running back can, which is exactly what Bell did. Whether it was running, blocking, or receiving, LeVeon was a one man wrecking crew who tortured the Browns all afternoon, and was a big reason the Steelers held on to the ball for almost 34 minutes.
James Harrison And Antonio Brown Milestones
With his third quarter sack of Cody Kessler, James Harrison became the Steelers all-time leader with 77.5 quarterback sacks, surpassing Jason Gildon’s 77. Harrison’s first NFL sack also came at the expense of the Cleveland Browns back on November 14, 2004. With the Steelers finishing up their season at home against the Browns, how cool would it be if Deebo wrapped up his career having his first sack, his franchise record breaking sack, and his final quarterback sack all coming against the Browns?
Antonio Brown set yet another NFL record on Sunday, reaching 600 receptions quicker than any receiver in history, in only 96 games. Brown currently leads the NFL with 77 receptions, and is fourth in yards with 907. He also ranks second in the NFL with 7 touchdown receptions. Despite having what some consider to be a down year, his numbers are extremely impressive when considering the number of double and triple teams he has faced all season from not having the explosive deep threat, Martavis Bryant, on the other side of the field. Despite the lack of having a reliable number two receiver, Antonio Brown continues to show why he is the NFL’s best receiver.
Thanksgiving Feast On Thursday?
The Steelers have a short week to prepare for their Thanksgiving matchup with the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil stadium on Thursday night. The last time the Steelers faced the Colts, Ben Roethlisberger had a career day throwing for over 500 yards and 6 touchdown passes. The defense could also see the return of OLB Bud Dupree, who is primed to see action for the first time this season. Dupree’s return will be an added boost to the pass rush. Entering the Browns game, the Steelers defense ranked last in the NFL with 13 sacks, but will go into Thursdays game with the Colts ranked 18th. The secondary may catch a break, as the Colts could be without quarterback Andrew Luck, who is currently participating in the league’s concussion protocol program. With the way he is improving though, Artie Burns is probably looking forward to the challenge of facing Luck. With a good performance Thanksgiving night, the Steelers could leave Indianapolis back in first place all by themselves.