Browns-Steelers: Report Card

An objective take on the Browns performance, courtesy of Scout.com

PASSING OFFENSE: D - There was one highlight - a 58-yard pass from Jeff Garcia to Dennis Northcutt. Otherwise, this was a disaster. Garcia completed only six other passes for a total of 52 yards. He was sacked four times and threw eight interceptions, many under duress. Garcia's worst throw came when underthrew a pass intended for Antonio Bryant that was intercepted just before halftime, killing any chance for the Browns to have momentum going into the locker room. More blame rests with the offensive line than with Garcia. The line looked unprepared for Steelers' blitzes, even though it was no secret Pittsburgh was coming. Possession receiver Frisman Jackson was the leading pass-catcher. He caught five passes for 61 yards.

RUSHING OFFENSE: D-minus - It didn't help that William Green got himself ejected by getting into a pre-game fight with Joey Porter. That left Lee Suggs with the job of carrying the load. Suggs couldn't deliver. As was the case with Garcia in the passing game, the line bears most of the responsibility. Suggs gained only 38 yards in 18 carries. His longest carry was his first, a 7-yarder. Too often, he was hit at or behind the line of scrimmage and had to burrow ahead just to make positive yardage. Garcia had almost as many yards (30) as Suggs in four scrambles.

PASS DEFENSE: D - Because their rushing game was so effective, the Steelers were able to duplicate their pattern of keeping it simple for Ben Roethlisberger. The Browns did little to slow him. Daylon McCutcheon intercepted Roethlisberger's first pass, a deep ball on which Hines Ward tripped over McCutcheon's feet. But after that, Roethlisberger picked apart the Browns when they needed a completion. Cleveland's only two sacks came when Roethlisberger slipped, and the Browns did a poor job keeping Roethlisberger from scrambling on the few occasions when they covered well or put the pressure on.

RUSH DEFENSE: C-minus - The Steelers hardly missed Duce Staley. Jerome Bettis ran 29 times for 103 yards. He got his yards in chunks of 4, 5, 6 or 7 yards. He didn't have a carry longer than that, but he continually kept the Steelers in good down-and-distance situations. Cleveland's one highlight against the run came when it stuffed Bettis on three goal-line runs in the second half. With Staley out, Willie Parker filled in a spot role and burned the Browns for 38 yards in seven carries.

SPECIAL TEAMS: C - Phil Dawson extended his consecutive field goal streak to 27 with a 31-yarder to open the scoring. That was set up by a 74-yard kickoff return by Richard Alston. But the good news ended there. The punt-coverage unit allowed a punt return of 29 yards by Antwaan Randle El. Worse, Alston fumbled a kickoff, bobbled the ball as he tried to retrieve it and had no choice but to step out of bounds at the Cleveland 1.

COACHING: F - The Browns play 3-4 defenses four times a season - against Baltimore and Pittsburgh. Yet they look unprepared against those defense. They struggle badly trying to pick up blitzes and have little success running against them. That might be understandable for a team that doesn't face such a defense often, but the Browns do. The Browns do not have an offensive identity. If they do, it doesn't work. Garcia said as much after the game when he said the offense was too predictable and that the Browns should abandon their run-first approach.


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