Usually I bang out my article right after the game ends. You get basically a core dump of what I'm feeling right after a contest.
Today I didn't want to do that.
I was in a bar filled to the brim with Steelers fans. It was an unbelievable experience. A certain segment of Erie Steeler fans clap and cheer after every positive Pittsburgh play.
One of the loudest and most obnoxious of that Steeler sub-culture stood up on her chair and emitted an ear-splitting "wooo" for a false start on the Browns.
A false start.
Going crazy over touchdowns, turnovers, a big defensive stop, even first downs. Ok.
A false start though?
My point of telling you all this is my nerves were frayed and emotions raw after enduring the "false start cheering section" all day so I wasn't sure that you'd get a lot of objectivity to go along with what I was feeling, which was teetering between rage and abject disappointment at yet another Browns defeat snatched from the jaws of victory against the Steelers.
Now that I'm a couple hours removed from the game and my ears have stopped ringing I can honestly say that I lay the blame for this loss on Romeo Crennel who must have had an out of body experience at halftime and believed that he was back in New England and was made the head coach of the Patroits.
When you are in control of the New England Patroits and you have a great defense to go along with a strong running game and an MVP QB you can come out in the 2nd half and play it conservative.
Staking a team like New England to a strong halftime lead on the road usually means the other team is about to get another addition to their loss column.
Romeo, Romeo, Romeo.... you aren't in New England anymore.
The Browns played aggressive offense, got great special teams play and an inspired performance from their defense in the first half to put Pittsburgh on their heels 21-9.
So what do they do when they get the ball in the 2nd half?
Play not to lose.
If this was a boxing match, Crennel would have retreated to his corner just as Tomlin was about to fall down and get a 10 count.
You have to know that the Browns 32nd ranked defense was going to buckle at some point. Don't put the game on their shoulders in the 2nd half. Come out and use your strength. The offense and it's amazing vertical passing attack is what they needed to push right after halftime.
Instead it was all about burning clock and playing things close to the vest.
Normally I'd be into a strategy like that but this was a unique situation.
Number one, the Steelers have shown a unique ability to roar back from behind on the Browns. Number two, you have to know you can't out-defense the Steelers at home.
By continually putting the Browns defense in a situation where they had to hold the Steelers down in the 2nd half was not only unfair but unconscionable on the part of the Browns coaching staff.
What they needed to do is go for broke in the 2nd half and take it to the Steelers. Put them back on their heels like they did in the first half on the opening drive.
In all fairness guys did drop some balls on Anderson and he wasn't throwing that sharply today but basically the conservative scheme in the 3rd and 4th quarters let the Steelers climb back into it, got their crowd involved again and played to Pittsburgh's strength, which of course is their defense.
It's just sickening to know that if the Browns attacked the Steelers when they started the 3rd quarter, they might have had a chance to give Pittsburgh a real black eye at home.
What a shame. The Browns aren't as good as the Steelers but they could have won today and made the AFC North race really interesting.
Instead, it's yet another year where we say "just wait until next year."
I'm sick and tired of waiting and rapidly running out of patience in these Steelers/Browns (non) contests.