Don’t misunderstand me. I love the Pittsburgh Steelers. I’ve been an NFL fan for a long time, and the only team I have ever rooted for are the Steelers. So it pains me what I say this. That was seriously an ugly half of football.
It all started off well enough as Steelers linebacker Lawrence Timmons was able to pick off Cleveland Browns quarterback Brandon Weeden and return it for a touchdown and it appeared it was going to be a big day for the Steelers.
And from that point on, there hasn’t been a whole lot gone right. Quarterback Charlie Batch, filling in as a third stringer after starter Ben Roethlisberger and backup Byron Leftwich both suffered injuries in the past 2 weeks has had a real problem finding his targets. You know it’s a rough start when you overthrow 6’5” tight end Heath Miller 3 times. The Steelers offense didn’t run a play in Browns’ territory until the final drive of the half.
Oh, and then there are the turnovers. The Steelers have 3 fumbles in the first half, all by 3 different running backs. The Browns have parlayed those turnovers into 10 points. This has to be something that will eat head coach Mike Tomlin alive.
I think most of us expected the Steelers to come out and run the ball, and throw when the opportunity presented itself. But with Batch being unable to get anything going through the air, the run game is being stuffed without fear of getting beat over the top. It wasn’t until the last have of the drive the offense really got any rhythm going at all.
On defense things are slightly better, and you can see the Steelers defense is doing their best to keep their team in the game. The one big problem I am seeing is they aren’t pressuring Weeden nearly enough. This is a rookie and you have to blitz and pressure. When they have, he’s folded and that must continue. Send players straight up the middle and force him to move.
The half ended well as the Steelers drove down the field in the final seconds to score a touchdown to go into the half up 14-13. This is promising for the second half as the Steelers will come out and get the football first. I think the Steelers have to air it out. Back off the Browns defense a little and open up some running lanes. The Browns are attacking the perimeter of the defense, so forcing Weeden to make quick decisions should help. This is a game the Steelers must win, so I expect great intensity in the second half.