Here's some scribbles from my notebook, y'all. Ever-body loves them some accessible football writers.
- Because I don't think the day will be painful enough, I impale my brain on the spike of inanity that is the CBS Sports NFL pre-game show. The host, James Brown, I think, asks Dannon Darpe and Bill Cowher their opinions on the brutally divisive issue of post-TD celebrations. Darpe says "Yes, they are good" and while Bill Cowher is saying "No, they are bad", the ex-tight end starts dancing. Dan Marino, or whoever, starts laughing like it's the funniest thing he's ever seen. That's all I need to see. Moving on.
- From the OBR Twitter Feed: "Browns team runs out of tunnel to predictable boos, except Shaun Rogers who is walking."
- It's hard to say whether or not the Steelers fanbase can be accused of mass forgetfulness in the case of serial sexual harrasser (allegedly) Ben Roethlisberger, because notion of "forgetting" infers "knowing" in the first place. In this case, learning of Roethlisberger's transgressions would infer the ability to navigate the modern media well enough to learn of them in the first place, admittedly a dicey notion.
- From the OBR Twitter Feed: "Sorry, find it odd fans cheer Roethlisberger as a "Zero Tolerance" banner hangs behind the Browns bench." Good one, Don.
- The teams are obviously mis-matched, but turnovers are the great equalizer. Joe Haden's 62-yard interception return is something I need to burn into my brain for when things get uglier later on.
- I love Daboll's first play selection, the short pass on the sideline. Terrific confidence builder for McCoy and gets the game flowing well right off the bat.
- The Browns are actually winning as the first quarter comes to a close. Based on the Steelers success in running the ball in the first quarter - five runs for 25 yards by Mendenhall - I don't expect that to continue. Bruce Arians is keeping things a bit under wraps while Roethlisberger gets acclimated again, but will open it up later. In Pittsburgh, Arians is almost as loathed as he was in Cleveland, but doesn't have to run Dennis Northcutt on a wide receiver reverse to pick up two yards in the red zone. Here, he's got some horses, which can cover up a lot of mistakes.
- Best sign of the day: Josh Cribbs walking off the field following a savage (and unpenalized) helmet-to-helmet hit from fellow Golden Flash James Harrison. Worst sign of the day: Cribbs walking to the locker room, leaving the Browns offense even more punchless while the Steelers go unpenalized.
- The ol' Steelers hate is still there, as evidenced in the Live Gameday chat and frustration as the Steelers seem to be getting favorable treatment from the officiating crew. Irritation with the TV announcing crew - who I am steadily avoidly
- Happy to see Brian Schaefering make a great play early in the quarter. He's been developing nicely over the last several years and makes a nice stop on Mendenhall. I'm not as worried as I would normally be with Robaire Smith out, knowing that Brian Schaefering is ready to take over.
- Two guys I was wrong on: Seneca Wallace and Reggie Hodges. I feared both being in key roles. Hodges makes a beautiful punt that buries the Steelers at the one. Unfortunately, some sloppy tackling - or non-existent tackling - allows the Steelers to immediately bounce out of trouble.
- Chansi Stuckey is no Josh Cribbs. He could be decent slot receiver if the Browns had a threatening #1 and #2 WR.
- Mohamed Massaquoi is the latest recipient of a brutal hit from James Harrison. He's woozy and stumbles off the field. Harrison's work is rewarded by a five-yard penalty on the Browns for delay of game and the loss of a timeout due to Massaquoi's injury.
- Based on the contents of my Twitter feed and the OBR Live Gameday chat room, James Harrison, members of his family and/or housekeeping staff, the officiating crew, and the CBS Sports announcers should probably not plan any public appearances in Cleveland in the next few days. This is the angriest I've seen Browns fans in quite a while.
- Second half begins with the Browns hanging in there very well, 7-3, although the Steelers are clearly the better team so far. Steelers have outgained them 186-104, which notably doesn't include a 60-plus yard interception return. McCoy doesn't seem out of his depth at all, even after losing Josh Cribbs and Massaquoi. Let's hope that continues.
- Browns keep hanging around, thanks to stuffing the Steelers first drive and an ineffective Roethlisberger. The Browns right now have a first down around mid-field with 9 minutes left in the third. This is miles and miles better than most fans would have expected at this point in the game. How many times have we seen clubs letter weaker units stick around and get burned by it? I'm hoping this is one, certainly.
- The Browns are in this game to a great degree because of some terrific between the tackles running on first down. McCoy has been brutalized in most of the third-and-long situations today, and the Browns conservative play-calling has largely kept McCo out of these dangerous situations.
- Lawrence Timmons got credit for the third-down sack of Colt McCoy at 5:23 left in the third, but I think credit for the sack really goes to James Harrison, whose headshots knocked half of McCoy's WR corps out of the game. McCoy had plenty of time, but could find no one open.
- Reggies Hodges unleashes his third straight punt inside the five of the yard line that bounces straight up into the air. This is a Gardockian performance and a key component of the Browns staying in this one.
- Boy, when Ben Roethlisberger floated up a prayer from his own end zone my first thought is that the Browns were about to get a pick. Instead the ball flailed its way down to Mike Wallace, wide open between Elam and Ward. I have an emailer compadre who was a huge advocate of drafting Eugene Monroe, who I think could have helped us there. We really need a safety to can fly to the receiver, and not having one has really hurt us this year. Sorry, Abe, but I don't see you going unchallenged in 2011.
- If there's one thing I can never enjoy, it's happy Steeler fans:
- I've spent most of the day on Twitter trying to figure out ways to insult the Steelers and their fans. I just wish I could do more, you know? It's God's work, really.
- Derreck Roberson and I are both really happy that tear-away jerseys are no longer allowed in the NFL. If there were, not only would the Steelers have a first down, but we would be seeing way more of Reshard Mendenhall than any heterosexual male ever wants to see.
- We're now at 11:30 left in the fourth quarter, which is the time when Browns fans say the following: "Gee, you know, the defense has really played well enough to win".
- Gee, you know, the defense has really played well enough to win.
- If it's not clear by now, I'm no John Taylor. JT would be well into a brain-splittingly hilarious and truthful rant by now about something regarding the Cleveland Browns organization that sucks so badly that redemption is but a fantasy of the delusional. All I can think of is that trading Jerome Harrison for Mike Bell has given us 1 run for 0 yards and an exciting episode of Chansi Stuckey: Punt Returner. But, honestly, I sort of expected the Browns to get blown out by thirty today and for Colt McCoy to have been wheeled off with an imploded skull by now, so I can't get too worked up about it. Give me a couple of days. And a lot of hard alcohol and/or coffee.
- We're down to about nine minutes and the Steelers are now gashing the Browns defense on the ground. They're at 342 yards to the Browns 188, and the Browns defense is visibly looking tired and looking forward to a post-game shower.
- The Browns secondary problems are highly visible once again as Eric Wright releases his guy to safety Abe Elam, who is no where near ready to cover Mike Wallace. The Browns are lucky that Roethlisberger's pass misses Wallace by a wide margin.
- Wow, Chansi Stuckey: Punt Returner is a lot more exciting than I thought it was going to be. But not in a good way. I'm waiting for one of the Browns radio announcers to remember that Harrison often returned kicks for the Browns, but that isn't brought up.
- McCoy's last drive doesn't end nearly as well, as he misses Ben Watson and the ball is picked by Timmons. The game peters out with with Roethlisberger being his classy self, piling on another touchdown with a minute or so left, so McCoy gets another chance to
get injured run a few plays. And he again looks pretty good doing so, giving us a little positive spin from the game.