Steelers come up short in Cleveland!

January 3rd, 2021
by admin

The Steelers battled back from a 15-point deficit but couldn’t convert a two-point conversion, dropping the last game of the season to the Browns. In a game that was all but meaningless for the Steelers, they accomplished three major things. Everyone stayed healthy there were no serious injuries, they extended the NFL sack streak and accomplished some new look offensive plays.

Like most weeks the Steelers offense started out slow, but then turned it up in the second half. Mason Rudolph proved he can play at this level, battling all day and ripping off 315 yards and two touchdowns. He also threw the back-breaking interception, but overall, he had a very good day behind center and at least auditioned as the Roethlisberger replacement. Rudolph hit Chase Claypool for five catches for over 100 yards. He also hit Diontae Johnson for 47-yard catch in the fourth quarter to setup the Steelers final touchdown. Johnson looks like he is on the rebound after a case of the dropsies, he finished with three catches for just under 100 yards and is now the big play receiver. Rudolph also hit JuJu Smith-Schuster six times, who quietly put together a very nice season.

The Steelers also brought in Josh Dobbs on some option packages and he showed some flashes of what can be. Both Rudolph and Dobbs look like they can contribute on this level. The protection even without Maurkice Pouncey was very good for the majority of the day. Myles Garret who had limited snaps was a non-factor, registering only four tackles and no sacks.

They also found some room to run, with 85 yards on the ground. James Conner, will get the start next week in the playoffs after showing the most pop. One guy that the stat sheets will not be kind too, but played well was Kevin Rader, who had a drop but did a great job in blocking and was laying out guys whenever he was in the game whether on offense or special teams.

The defense started the game slow too, but then dialed it up after really the first quarter. The stats won’t tell the story. The Steelers gave up close to 200 yards on the ground but 75 of that was on two busted plays and missed tackles. The Browns were never comfortable running the ball and the Steelers for the most part kept them in check.

Stephon Tuitt, put an exclamation point on a great season registering a sack, Chris Wormley got on the board with a sack and Alex Highsmith played his best game of the season and led the team in tackles and absolutely roasted Browns 1st Rounder Jedrick Willis. Despite playing against a very good Browns offensive line the Steelers registered four more sacks, with Jayrone Elliot grabbing the other. It was a solid performance up front with a shorthanded lineup.

The secondary held Baker Mayfield in check in the air and with his most of his success coming on finding holes in the zone defense. Justin Layne was torched by Rashad Higgins on one big play for 42 yards, but he recovered nicely after that and the coverage was solid. Sean Davis who has sort of become a forgotten man in Pittsburgh after a great start to his career, did a very good job filling in for Terrell Edmunds with six tackles and a pass defended.

The special teams were a net neutral for the most part. Jordan Berry had a good day with three punts including a 56-yard blast. Matthew Wright did an admirable job filling in for Little Bos and he hit all three of his field goals, including a 46 yarder and hit his extra point try. The bad news is that Wright doesn’t have the leg for kickoffs and didn’t produce one touchback.

Ray-Ray McCloud did well on kickoffs averaging 26.5 yards and had a positive effect. Give Coach Smith credit because the Steelers damn near pulled off the onside kick at the end of the game.

Going to say it again the refs were absolutely horrible this week. They missed several pass interference calls on the Browns and they began to take even more liberties. They also missed a crucial roughing the passer call that would have negated the Rudolph interception. The Browns were all over Chase Claypool on the two point conversion.

The Steelers game plan was to see some different looks, play a vanilla defensive scheme and make sure no one got hurt, they accomplished that very thing. It was a good overall effort on the day playing shorthanded and they finished the season 12-4 which everyone would have signed up for at the beginning of the season.

The offense needs to get moving faster and the defense needs to solve the soft zone exploitation and limiting big plays. They do those three things this team will go far in the playoffs.


My “GAME BEER” goes to: Mason Rudolph, yes, he did make a crucial mistake, but it was clear he belongs in this league. Also Considered: Alex Highsmith who had a very good game, Matthew Wright who converted three field goals and an extra point.

Where I watched the game: At the house with almost the entire family, it was a great way to spend a Sunday. “Steel the Snacks”; was a Cleveland staple from what I understand, pierogi grilled cheeses, with three different dipping sauces. It was the most inventive of all the snacks, it was a grilled cheese with a pierogi in the middle of it. KGB had Sam Adams holiday beer and I had Catskill Nightshine Black Lager, great winter beer and full bodied. Really enjoyed it!

My Stat of the week: There are a bunch we could choose but have to go with 73 straight games with a sack, even with a B-Squad out there the Steelers registered four sacks and finished the year with 56 sacks, tied for the most in franchise history.

HONORABLE MENTION: The Steelers only gave up 14 sacks in 16 games, the fewest since the merger.

My Thoughts on next week: REMATCH, the Browns will be coming back to Pittsburgh, for a quick turnaround. The Steelers need to get off to a faster start and turn up the pass rush and contain. Also, would be great to see the Josh Dobbs package again next week. The Steelers will get a chance to send the Browns home again for a second week, this time on Prime Time TV.

This week’s Jersey: Matthew Pomara, 74, 1967 Home Jersey Throwback, a gift a few Christmas’ back, this jersey was supposedly designed by Ambassador Rooney, it should have been the throwback!

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