The Steelers Get Steamrolled By The Shorthanded Browns
The deck was stacked against the Browns long before they entered Heinz Field.
Covid-19 took out their Head Coach, Tight ends coach, Defensive backs coach, Offensive line coach, Assistant offensive line coach, Pro Bowl LG Joe Bitonio, Defensive back Denzel Ward, Defensive back Kevin Johnson and Wide receiver KhaDarel Hodges.
The Steelers got a few players back from the Covid list and came into the game almost completely healthy. The played like they were sick of playing good football.
It only took 14-seconds for the Browns to take a 7-0 lead.
By the time their was 1: 46 left in the 1st-quarter the Browns had a fumble recovery for a TD, two interceptions and a 28-0 lead. This one was over quickly.
The Steelers offense was once again completely inept. A Steelers defense that often bailed-out the flailing offense was also completely over-matched in this one.
I never had much confidence that the Steelers would make much noise in the playoffs, but I didn't think they'd lose to a Browns team that was unable to practice for almost two weeks
and was missing so much from their coaching staff and starting line-up.
I don't think anyone was expecting the listless Steelers to get waxed at home in a playoff game to a team that had lost in Pittsburgh the last 17 times it played there.
The Browns played like a team that had practiced and prepared for this game for a month, and the Steelers looked like a team that had just met each other in the tunnel for the first time right before the game.
Roethlisberger was at his worst. The offensive penalties took away any play that gained much of anything. If the Steelers came into this game with any hope of advancing to the divisional round of the playoffs the Browns slapped it right out of them before the Steelers even realized the game had started. The Browns then kept swinging and kept connecting.
The Steelers defense was unable to keep the Browns out of the end-zone on their first three offensive possessions. The Browns threw it all over them and ran it down their throats. The Browns didn't punt until almost halfway thru the 2nd-quarter.
The Steelers wouldn't score until the 2-minute warning had passed at the end of the first half. It took them a 4th-and-1 conversion at the Browns 2-yard line before James Connor got them on the scoreboard with a 2-yard TD run.
That TD made it 28-7 and their were probably some people who thought that this game wasn't out of reach at that point. I wasn't one of them.
The Browns took the next possession right down the field and scored their 5th touchdown to end the half up 35-7. Once again the Steelers 3rd-ranked defense sucked when they were needed most. Any hope anyone had about making this one into a game was quickly erased at that point. The Steelers did manage to move into field goal range right before the half ended, and Chris Boswell connected on a 49-yard field goal to cut the Browns lead to 25-points as the half ended.
The second half was more of the same. The Browns were hungry and the Steelers were full, fat, slow and uninterested in competing. There had to be a halftime speech that was designed to wake-up the team and get them to pull their heads out out of their asses, but that also failed miserably. Nothing was going to work on this day.
Steelers WR Ju Ju Smith-Schuster talked leading up to this game and commented "I think they’re still the same Browns teams I play every year. I think they’re nameless gray faces. They have a couple good players on their team, but at the end of the day, I don’t know. The Browns is the Browns."
Ju Ju, you were so wrong. If they were the same ole Browns, that comment turned them into your daddy on this night, and daddy punished you relentlessly.
Ju Ju once tweeted about Antonio Brown after he was finished in Pittsburgh - "Crazy how big that ego got". Well, it appears Ju Ju might just have that same problem.
I'm sure there will be talk about the Steelers being over-confident coming into this one due to all the problems the Browns had leading-up to this game, and I'm sure the Steelers will tell everyone that wasn't the case. Well, if that wasn't the case, and the Browns just came into Heinz Field and smacked-around a focused Steelers team then there are some big issues with the personnel on the team.
It is almost unfathomable to believe that the Steelers could be absolutely bitch-slapped in their own house in a playoff game against the Browns, but that's exactly what just happened. The Steelers that were on that field of nightmares on Sunday night were a bunch of guys who looked like they came to play checkers, not football.
How could a coaching staff coach-up a team for a week before a playoff game and have them come out and play like a high school team playing against the best team in the NFL?
Like I said, this Steelers team wasn't going to win the Super Bowl, but to play like the worst team in the league in the biggest game of the season is unacceptable.
As bad as the Steelers were, they are better than THAT.
What could have possibly led them down a path that ended with them crashing and burning-up in a giant ball of flames so quickly? They rested many starters last week in preparation for this game, and it looked like they spent these last two weeks on a couch while drinking beer and eating doughnuts.
The Steelers won't be part of the 2020 AFC playoffs going forward, and it looked like there may be a changing of the guard in the AFC North. The Ravens and Browns may just end-up in the championship game. The Steelers may just end-up looking up at them throughout the 2021 season as well.
In Pittsburgh it's the towels that are supposed to be terrible, not the team.
There's always next year.