The record will reflect that in his first post-suspension game, Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger led his team to a 28-10 victory over the Cleveland Browns.
A more dispassionate analysis reveals that the game was both more and less.
More because, after shucking off some early rust, Ben provided the Steelers with what they’ve been missing for the previous four weeks:
- Precision passing
- An ability to make something out of nothing
- Big Play Potentail
It was also less because the opponent was not only the Browns, but a Browns team starting a rookie quarterback minus Joshua Cribbs and another key starter.
Given that, the template is set for “rout.”
Yet that is not what happened.
The game was 7-3 at the half. To be sure, Ben moved the team smartly in the third quarter, leading the team to a 5 play 96 yard drive that took less than 96 minutes. Ben hit both Mike Wallace and Health Miller on that drive, and Hines Ward ended it by doing what he does, getting tough yards en route to the end zone.
Likewise, the Steelers sacked Browns rookie QB Colt McCoy five times, but he still managed to hit his receiving corps for throws of 23, 23, 25, and 34 yards.
And that is the other side of the game.
As has been mentioned numerous times here in Steel Curtain Rising, one of Mike Tomlin’s weaknesses is that his teams have tended to “play down” to the competition.
Perhaps that is why Rashard Mendenhall, in spite of some impressive runs, found it difficult to find room to run on many plays.
No Reason to Over React
This is, of course, the National Football League. The entire “On Any Given Sunday” motif is born out of the reality that even teams with bad records have incredibly talented rosters.
Cleveland has played each of its opponents tough, and to expect a cake walk would be folly.
The game nonetheless suggests that the Steeler offensive line, their gallant performance against Tennessee notwithstanding, remains far from being an asset. And the Steelers defense, for all its pomp and circumstance, still gives up the big play and the late score, a little to easy for comfort.
While all of those things are important, none of them outshine what is the story of the day.
Ben Roethlisberger is back, and because of that the Steelers offense is again a unit to be feared.