Browns-Steelers: Report Card

How do you make a mediocre-at-best quarterback look like the second coming of Johnny Unitas? Well, it helps if your lone remaining starting corner takes a knee to the gut. Then, have your own quarterback and receivers miss key opportunities. Stir, mix in some wild-eyed hyperbole from TV announcers and, voila!, you've got Charlie Batch. Here are the Browns grades for Sunday night's loss in Pittsburgh...

Browns coach Romeo Crennel candidly assessed his team after a tough loss to Pittsburgh.

"We still have a long way to go, and that was evident," Crennel said. "Pittsburgh is right at the top of the division. They have been there for a while, and we have a ways to go before we get there.

"We probably aren't going to get there this year."

Honest assessment from a coach who understands that his team plays hard and shows heart, but lacks the talent to compete with the AFC's best.

Read between the lines and the Browns coach understands that his team is a year or two away from competing for the AFC North title.

"Eventually, with time, we are going to make progress and be competitive with those guys at some point," Crennel said. "I don't know when that's going to be, but that's where I'm headed.

PASSING OFFENSE: F -- How does a team throw for 253 yards and a touchdown and wind up failing? By missing opportunities and dropping passes. Trent Dilfer and Braylon Edwards missed a touchdown when Edwards was wide open in the first half, Antonio Bryant turned the ball over on a fumble, and Dennis Northcutt dropped two passes. After a good start, the Browns passing offense degenerated into a mess.

RUSHING OFFENSE: B -- If all the Browns played with the heart and desire of Reuben Droughns, the team would be better off. Droughns actually dished out some punishment to the Steelers, moved the pile and showed spirit. The team's offensive line is not too bad, and Droughns runs well. The Browns need more players like him.

PASSING DEFENSE: D-plus -- Lose two corners and any team would struggle. So did the Browns, who were without both their corners after Daylon McCutcheon took a knee to the gut in the first quarter. That had the Browns playing with Leigh Bodden and Ray Mickens, and a struggling defense wound up making Charlie Batch look masterful in his one half of play.

RUSHING DEFENSE: D -- All teams struggle against Pittsburgh, which runs the ball against the best of them. It was no different with the Browns, who knew Pittsburgh was going to run and still couldn't limit the running game.

COACHING: C -- Hard to fault the coaching staff, which put players in position to get things done against the Steelers. It was the players that let the team down by not making the plays -- and the chief failures were in the passing game. Romeo Crennel has to feel as if he's in the vortex of a hurricane, with few options to settle things down.

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