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Same Old Steelers, Same Old Browns…Same Old Jeff Reed

Posted By Brian Lutz On October 19, 2009 @ 10:21 pm In Featured,NFL | No Comments

“The Cleveland Browns beat the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday.”

 

Amazingly, that arrangement of words above has not been a true statement since Oct. 5, 2003.  That day, or I should say that night—it was a Sunday night game on ESPN—a young Tim Couch had his best game as a pro, shredding the Steelers’ secondary as the Browns won big, 33-13.

 

They have not beaten Pittsburgh since.

 

In fact, the first line of this article—which looks more and more like a misprint along the lines of “Dewey defeats Truman” or “Pittsburgh Pirates clinch NL Central”—has been true only twice in the 21st Century, and just three times since the Browns were reincarnated in 1999.  

 

Pittsburgh versus Cleveland may have once been a rivalry, but the Browns haven’t swept the season series since the days of Marty Schottenheimer, Bernie Kosar, and Ernest Byner.  That year (1988), the Browns beat Pittsburgh in Cleveland Municipal Stadium and Three Rivers Stadium, two facilities that no longer exist.

 

Someday, they’ll be saying the same thing about Eric Mangini’s coaching career.

 

In the latest edition of the “rivalry,” the punchless Brahnies were precisely inept as usual, dropping five passes and turning the ball over four times on “offense.” On the bright side, they were able to muster their first offensive touchdown since Romeo Crennel was calling the shots (and that’s only a slight exaggeration).

 

The Steelers played sloppy at times, giving the ball away twice in three plays during one 3rd quarter stretch in which the two tams played a bizzaro version of keep-away.  But it mattered not in the end, as Cleveland extended their winless streak against Pittsburgh to twelve games.

 

Many people have opined that the strength of this year’s Steelers team is the passing game, and last Sunday’s aerial display only reinforced that notion.  Ben Roethlisberger was completely in the zone, and is arguably playing as well as any quarterback in the league right now.  I know he threw a bad pick and took three sacks, but other than that he was nearly flawless.

 

Aside from the four turnovers, the offense was dominant, holding the ball for nearly 37 minutes and piling up 543 total yards.  Big Ben was able to spread the ball around to his barbershop quartet of weapons.  Santonio Holmes, Hines Ward (who’s having an incredible season thus far), Heath Miller and Mike Wallace each had at least 70 yards of offense. Ward led the way with 159 receiving yards on 8 catches.

 

This may be the most potent offense Roethlisberger has ever played with, and I’m including Natalie Gulbis.

 

The running game didn’t overwhelm anyone and the fumbles were inexcusable, but the backs were at least efficient, picking up 140 total yards spread among five players.  Willie Parker still doesn’t look right (one wonders if he ever will), but Mendenhall played well considering he missed practice time with the flu.  There was also speculation that the Browns did everything they could to stop the run, which allowed for the huge passing numbers.

 

The defense played strong again—not dominant, of course, but well enough.  They limited Cleveland to 197 yards of offense and snagged two interceptions to double their season total.  They also continued their 1st quarter supremacy and finally finished a game strong, giving up only 46 yards in the 4th quarter.

 

The Steelers as a whole played far from perfect on Sunday.  But they did win rather easily by 13 points in a game that was not as close as the final score indicated.  Good teams win these types of games at home, and while it wasn’t the blowout that we are accustomed to seeing against the Browns, it was still a convincing win. 

 

I think everyone can agree that Pittsburgh has yet to play their best game.  Better that they make their mistakes in games where they are clearly the superior team – in other words, I’d rather see Joshua Cribbs score on a kickoff return than Percy Harvin.

 

******

 

In other, more somber news, it was reported today by various media outlets that Jeff Reed, the eccentric kicker we all know and love, was arrested outside a North Shore bar, McFaddens, on Sunday night after the game.

 

Depending on who you believe, the story goes something like this:

 

Reed was out partying with Steelers tight end Matt Spaeth, who decided to relieve himself somewhere in the vicinity of a parking lot and also the public in general.  Reed pleaded with the cops to let them both go and things spiraled downward from there, ending with Reed leaving in handcuffs and likely facing his second disorderly conduct charge in the past nine months.

 

Thankfully, no towel dispensers were harmed, and yes—I’ve already heard that joke about 2,584 times today.

 

People in Pittsburgh seem generally divided on what to do about him, but one thing is certain—the guy is a very good kicker.  He has excelled here his entire career while playing in a stadium that is not kind to kickers.  He’s never missed a truly big kick and, aside from his shaky start to this season, he has been remarkably consistent.

 

He is likely regretting his decision to decline the Steelers’ contract extension offer prior to this season, but that’s a different issue altogether.  While the Steelers generally don’t like to have “bad character guys” on the squad, they do have a tendency to give players second chances (Santonio Holmes, James Harrison, even Plaxico Burress).

 

Reed is one of the longest-tenured guys on the team at this point, and he was a big part of both Super Bowl runs.  Unless his off-field troubles affect his performance on Sundays, I expect the Steelers to make every effort to bring him back.  Representatives from Sheetz, however, had no comment.

Read more NFL news [1] on BleacherReport.com


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