Yesterday the Pittsburgh Steelers went into a game against the Cleveland Browns with so many things working against them. Little did they know that it would be none of those things that would ultimately be their undoing.
The Steelers have struggled this year to force turnovers, but in the same vein haven’t really turned the ball over at an alarming rate either, so everything had essentially equaled out. But on this day, the turnover bug bit hard to the tune of 5 lost fumbles by 5 different players and 3 interceptions by quarterback Charlie Batch. By my math that’s 8 total turnovers. I’m sure there is a statistician somewhere that keeps track of this, but I cannot remember a Steelers team that turned the ball over 8 times in a single game.
And to file this under the “Other than the shooting, what did you think of the theater President Lincoln?” category, aside from those 8 turnovers, this Steelers team played very well, especially on defense. They held the Browns to less than 240 yards of offense, sacked the Browns quarterbacks 4 times, and held the Browns to 20 points, many times working with short fields after turnovers. In all my criticisms of this teams, the defense will get none of it.
And to be frank I am not going to hammer the offense much either. Let’s break it down. 8 turnovers in a game and you only lose on the road by 6 points? That’s an amazing feat. It probably says more about how bad the Browns are than anything else. Most teams, you play against a third string quarterback and minus their best defensive player, and force 8 turnovers at home you win by more than 6. This is no sour grapes on my part, but I am not going to sit here and make excuses for the loss, or praise the Browns. It was a flukey game and the Steelers for all their problems were still in a position to win it at the end. Fans can’t ask for much more than that.
And the sky is not falling. With losses across the AFC, the Steelers continue to cling to the final wild card spot, get a re-match with the Baltimore Ravens this week, and there is optimism the Steelers will have safety Troy Polamalu and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger back. The season is far from over at this point, so don’t panic Steelers fans. This loss was bad, but hardly the end of the world.