Pittsburgh Steelers: Nice Job By Backup Quarterback


As the Pittsburgh Steelers defeated the Cleveland Browns last Sunday 30-9,  the game became a story of the backup. It was not your typical backup however, as starting quarterback Landry Jones suffered an early ankle injury that propelled the first string QB, Ben Roethlisberger back into action.

Big Ben then resumed his prowess of the Steelers offense and finished with the most yards thrown in a single game by a backup quarterback since 1950. For Roethlisberger it is only the second time in the last 11 years he played in a game as a backup. The last time was his rookie season relieving Tommy Maddox who was injured and Roethlisberger never lost the starting job after that.

For Cleveland, they haven’t tasted victory in Pittsburgh since 2003. At 2-8,  the Browns were never in this game. Despite big numbers from Johnny Manziel (33 of 45 for 372 yards and once touchdown), mistakes and penalties hurt Cleveland. Manziel was unable to engineer more than one touchdown drive and on one series that got the Browns to the one yard line, they ended up backing themselves up with sacks and penalties.

Pittsburgh obviously has some issues in the secondary, allowing Manziel to look like an all-pro at times and finding his receivers open on some plays with breathing room. But the Steelers’ offense is one to marvel at when Roethlisberger is in the game. It begins with Antonio Brown. The man is simply amazing. When Big Ben is calling the signals the chemistry between the two might be the best in not just the history of the team but perhaps in the NFL.

With another 10 receptions, Antonio Brown nearly put himself in the record books for most receptions in two consecutive games in history. 17 last week, 10 against Cleveland and another 139 yards receiving in the defeat of the Browns. Brown also scored twice and on one of his touchdowns performed an incredible, perfect landing flip into the end zone.

For Roethlisberger, in relief he pitched the ball 33 times and completed 22 for 379 yards. That included three touchdown passes and he was sacked just once. He did throw one errant pass that was picked off. While Johnny Manziel proved he can hold his own, he still showed signs of bad decisions and mishandling of the ball as he was sacked by Pittsburgh’s defense six times. The Black and Gold’s defense played well but it was more the case of Cleveland’s ineptness on offense rather than the Steelers completely shutting them down.

Going into the game, it seemed that Pittsburgh could run on Cleveland’s defense as they had the league’s worst rushing defense. Until the fourth quarter, the Browns’ defense shut down DeAngelo Williams who was the Steelers only running back handling the ball. Once the game was out of reach for Pittsburgh, Williams began to chew up some yards and finished with 54 on the ground and added a catch for 15 yards.

Before he was forced out of the game, Landry Jones had thrown four times and missed on just one. But it was Antonio Brown and Martavis Bryant who were the stars of the game again. Forgotten in those two’s success is Markus Wheaton. The #2 receiver before Bryant burst onto the scene, he did have two receptions last Sunday but for just 18 yards. Of course, Ben Roethlisberger has Heath Miller at his disposal as well who hauled in another four receptions against Cleveland for 40 yards.

More from Ben Roethlisberger

Aside from the secondary, the rest of Keith Butler’s defense played well and without James Harrison who sat this game out nursing a knee injury, Jarvis Jones filled in but Will Allen led the team in tackles with nine. It was a complete defensive effort with none of the starters standing out with a highlight reel performance. Jacoby Jones continues to be the primary returner in kicks but has yet to impress.

Chris Boswell‘s solid kicking skills continue with three more field goals without a miss although he did miss a PAT. Because of the success of the offense, Jordan Berry had to punt just once and the league leader for punts inside the 20 made a 42 yard punt that just about reached the 20-yard line.

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For Pittsburgh, they head into their bye week at 6-4 and in good position to battle a for a wild card spot. They will get nearly two weeks off to prepare for a trip west to Seattle and hopefully make a solid run to the end of the season that will finish with another post-season berth.

For the poor Cleveland Browns faithful, it is yet another lost season that will finish without a playoff appearance. The last time Cleveland made it into the post-season was 2002, 13 long years ago. There is no is no light at the end of the tunnel or so it seems and the Browns continue to be the Black and Gold’s whipping boys. Of all the tams the Steelers have a played throughout history, it’s the Cleveland Browns that the Steelers own the most victories against.