Better Than Imagined

Save the cynicism for now, the Browns actually put together some impressive numbers against the best overall defense in the league -- and won.

Given all the complaining about a rare Browns win over Pittsburgh, it seemed worth checking into some things.

Let's start with the reality that the Steelers are a nasty physical bunch that led the league in total defense heading into Sunday's game. Logically, that reality should mean the Steelers would make any offense struggle.

Brandon Weeden, for example, caught some grief for the way he played — after he had completed 17-of-26.

Weeden's final passer rating in the Browns win was 78.7.

Which doesn't sound great — until perspective is applied. In the previous five games before facing the Browns, the Steelers had played the Bengals, Redskins, Giants, Chiefs and Ravens — which means they faced Andy Dalton, Robert Griffin III, Eli Manning, Matt Cassell and Joe Flacco.

None had a rating higher than Weeden's.

The closest was Flacco (75.5), followed by RG3 (72.8), Dalton (56.4), Cassell (46.0) and Manning (41.0).

The Browns scored 20 points, which matched the Giants total of 20. But New York got to 20 by returning a fumble for a touchdown. No offense matched the Browns total of 20 points on the Steelers defense.

Too, the Browns hadn't scored 20 points on the Steelers since 2007, and they had gone three games in a row and all of 2011 against Pittsburgh without an offensive touchdown. The Browns hadn't gotten two touchdowns on the Steelers since 2009.

Only Cincinnati matched the Browns two touchdowns. Baltimore beat the Steelers the week prior by getting seven points on a punt return. In the previous five games before facing the Browns, Pittsburgh had given up five touchdowns on defense. Cincinnati scored 17, Washington 12, the Giants 20, the Chiefs and Ravens 13 and the Browns 20.

The Browns had a rushing touchdown and a passing touchdown. Baltimore didn't get any offensive touchdowns. The Giants and Chiefs had a rushing TD, the Redskins a passing score.

Then there are Trent Richardson's 85 yards rushing. They came on 29 carries. No matter.

Only Jamaal Charles had more yards rushing against Pittsburgh than Richardson. BenJarvus Green-Ellis had 69, Alfred Morris 59, Ahmad Bradshaw (the guy who went for 200 on the Browns) 48 and Ray Rice 40. Richardson doubled the rushing output of Rice.

Yes, the Browns had short fields. Their scoring drives went 33 (FG), 10 (TD), 44 (FG) and 31 (TD) yards. But the short fields were not an accident.

The Browns forced an historic number of turnovers (eight) by standing up to the Steelers and playing a very physical game on defense.

Then they took advantage, which is pretty much what teams are supposed to do.

So of the past six games against some pretty good teams, a little perspective shows the Browns fared better against the Steelers than anyone.

Their quarterback's rating was the best, they had more offensive points than anyone, as many touchdowns and ran the ball well.

And they won.

Taken together, perhaps it's time to put the cynicism away for a few days.

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