Tale Of The Tape: Cleveland Browns At Pittsburgh Steelers
- QuarterbackIt has been another difficult year in Cleveland, but they have gotten production from the quarterback position. Whether it has been Brandon Weeden, Brian Hoyer or Jason Campbell, all three have demonstrated their ability at given moments. Campbell has gotten the call throughout the second half of the season, and he has been fairly accurate throughout his time under center.The Steelers needed a near-miraculous confluence of events to stay alive in Week 16 and they got what they needed. Much of the credit must go to Ben Roethlisberger, who has completed nearly 65 percent of his passes. Roethlisberger is strong enough to shake off potential tacklers and wait until the last second before launching the ball downfield.
- OffenseThe Browns will go into the offseason knowing that they have found a true superstar at the wide receiver position in Josh Gordon. He has excellent balance and run-after-the-catch skills, and he gives the Browns a major threat from anywhere on the field. Jordan Cameron is a complementary receiver at the tight end position. The Browns must find a viable running game before the start of next season.The Steelers know that if they are going to have a chance to recapture their glory, they are going to need a viable running game to help Roethlisberger. Mike Tomlin believes that rookie Le’Veon Bell can handle the responsibility in the future. Antonio Brown has turned into an explosive wideout who can get downfield. Jerricho Cotchery has been a surprising TD maker this season.
- DefenseThe Browns have been a fairly solid defense this season, as they have been in the top 10 against the run and the pass. However, they have given up key plays in the fourth quarter and that is going to have to change. Middle linebacker D’Qwell Jackson is the team’s best tackler, while rookie outside linebacker Barkevious Mingo is a good pass rusher who should only get better.The Steelers still have a decent defensive identity, but they are no longer the effective unit they have been in the past because many of their key players have gotten older and slower. Strong safety Troy Polamalu fits this description, and his losing gambles have hurt the Steelers. Linebacker Lawrence Timmons is the team’s best tackler.
- Special TeamsThe Browns have gotten decent punt and kickoff coverage this season, and they have also gotten the occasional big play from their return specialists. Placekicker Billy Cundiff has been decent, but he is not comparable to former Cleveland placekicker Phil Dawson.The Steelers have done a decent job on special teams this season, and they have been especially effective on punt coverage. Brown’s speed has made him a viable threat returning punts this season. Shaun Suisham has been remarkably effective as the Steelers’ placekicker this season.
It’s still a long shot to make the playoffs, but the Steelers are still alive. They will not end the season by losing on their homefield. Look for a big game by Roethlisberger. -Steve Silverman, CBS Local Sports contributor