Steelers Dominate Browns From Start To Finish
Steelers Fever Exclusive Editorial
|Tuesday, September 11, 2007
By Eddie Griffin
Steelers Fever Columnist
There were several impressive numbers from Pittsburgh's season-opening 34-7 rout of Cleveland, besides, of course, the score.
They include the team's 206 rushing yards, a career-high four touchdowns for Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, 221 yards allowed, five forced turnovers, and 36:16 in time of possession.
When you put all of that together, what do you have? It was dominance from start to finish.
The Cleveland Browns tripped themselves up from the outset, and the Steelers made them pay, over and over.
After a three-and-out on the opening possession, a 15-yard punt by Paul Ernster and a defensive holding penalty gave the Steelers the ball at the Browns' 22. Four plays later, Roethlisberger tossed the first of his four touchdowns, a 5-yarder to Hines Ward, to give the Steelers a 7-0 lead just over three minutes into the game.
On the next drive, cornerback Deshea Townsend picked off Browns quarterback Charlie Frye and returned it 21 yards to the Cleveland 17. The drive stalled inside the 10, but kicker Jeff Reed split the uprights on a 26-yard field goal to make it 10-0 only six minutes in.
Late in the first quarter, linebacker James Farrior knocked the ball loose from Browns debutant Jamal Lewis and Bryant McFadden recovered at the 40. On the very next play, Big Ben hooked up with wide receiver Santonio Holmes for a 40-yard score, and it was 17-0 before the fans had time to get settled in their seats.
After Cleveland regrouped and shut the Steelers down in the second quarter, Roethlisberger and running back Willie Parker went to work right out of the locker room. Parker had five carries for 36 yards, and Big Ben was a perfect three-for-three for 35 yards, and finished off the drive with his third touchdown, a 5-yarder to rookie tight end Matt Spaeth, to make it 24-0.
Derek Anderson took over for Frye and led the Browns to their only score on their first drive of the second half. But the Steelers responded as Roethlisberger completed three passes for 62 yards, with the last pass being a 22-yard touchdown to Heath Miller to make it 31-7. Big Ben finished his day with modest totals of 12 of 23, for 161 yards, but that four-spot in the touchdown column is anything but.
All in all, it was the picture-perfect start to the season for the Steelers, as they clicked on both sides of the ball and made sure the Browns had absolutely no chance from the first minutes of the game.
Four touchdown passes in any game is a pretty lofty achievement, but four touchdown passes in twelve completions is about as good as it gets. After last season's inconsistencies, it was great for Roethlisberger to start off his season with such a great outing. But, we have to see what the next couple of weeks bring, and if he can keep it going.
The five forced turnovers were impressive, but the six sacks that the Steelers picked up might have been the best defensive stat. Three of the sacks were by DBs.
Well, for the first time, and hopefully not for the last time, there's nothing for me to say here.
Reviewing the matchups
WR Santonio Holmes vs. CB Eric Wright
Holmes didn't have a huge game, with only two catches for 55 yards, but one of them was the 40-yard touchdown.
ROLB James Harrison vs. LT Joe Thomas
One down, eleven more to go. Harrison was the Steelers' leading tackle, with seven, and picked up one of the six sacks. Joey who?
Willie Parker vs. Cleveland's linebackers
Three matchups, three successes for the Steelers. Parker ran for 109 yards on 27 carries, which is a personal victory for him, after he ran for only 46 yards on 16 carries in his last trip to Cleveland.
The Steelers play their home opener next Sunday against Buffalo. The Bills opened their season with a 15-14 loss at home to Denver, losing on a Jason Elam field goal on the last play of the game.
The Denver offense torched the Buffalo defense for 470 yards, with Jay Cutler going for 304 and a touchdown, and Travis Henry rushing for 159 yards in his Broncos' regular-season debut.
The Denver defense held the Bills to 184 yards on offense. Rookie Marshawn Lynch rushed for 90 yards and a score on 19 carries, but J.P. Losman was 14 of 21 for only 97 yards.
Given how well the Steelers played on Sunday, the Bills better make the best out of their practices this week if they don't want a repeat of yesterday.
As for the Steelers, there's a little time to celebrate a debut win for Mike Tomlin before getting back down to business and focusing on the Bills. As they say, you have to take things one game at a time, so we can't get too riled up just yet.
But, if they can keep this up, there'll be plenty more occasions to celebrate this season.
As an extra note, thoughts and prayers go to Bills' tight end Kevin Everett, who suffered a serious spinal injury in yesterday's game, and is currently in intensive care. Best wishes for a speedy recovery, and hopefully he'll be able to recover fully.