Steelers survive NFL's Upset Sunday

Dale Lolley's fresh notebook items after the Steelers beat the Cleveland Browns, 28-10:

PITTSBURGH – There were drama-filled close games throughout the NFL on Sunday as the league enjoyed one of its best weekends to date if you're into those kind of close contests.

All the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cleveland Browns had to offer was the return of Ben Roethlisberger, Colt McCoy making his first career start, and James Harrison and Lawrence Timmons flying around like a couple of heat-seeking missiles.

That was more than enough excitement for me in a 28-10 Steelers' victory.

© Remember the old Major League Baseball commercial about chicks digging the long ball?

I'm pretty sure they also dig the deep pass. With Roethlisberger back for the Steelers, the deep pass is back in the Pittsburgh offense.

That's very, very bad news for the rest of the NFL - though after Sunday's action, it's very difficult to say who's good and who isn't.

© If Harrison's hit on Josh Cribbs didn't set the tone for the Steelers defense Sunday, his one soon thereafter on wide receiver Mohamed Massaquoi certainly did.

If I had been McCoy, making my first career NFL start, I most certainly would not have wanted to be knockout No. 3 for Harrison.

That's what made McCoy's day pretty impressive. The kid showed a lot of poise in the pocket for a rookie making his first career start.

© Some reporters in the Cleveland locker room were trying to stir things up by asking Cleveland players if Harrison's hits were legal or cheap.

That's ridiculous.

If either of those plays result in fines for Harrison, the NFL should just take the pads off the players and let them play touch football.

© Timmons won't win the award because he doesn't get enough of the sexy stats - sacks, interceptions – but he's the defensive MVP of the league right now.

© The MVP for Cleveland in this game was punter Reggie Hodges. Three times he pinned the Steelers inside the 10 with punts that hit at the 2 and pretty much died.

And there wasn't a thing punt returner Antwaan Randle El could do about any of them. He certainly couldn't field a ball inside the 5.

That said, it was a decision in the kicking game by Eric Mangini that turned the game into a rout.

Having the Steelers re-kick three times after penalties was certainly the right move to make. Of course, Mangini was counting on Chansi Stuckey not to muff the ball.

Once that happened and the Steelers recovered, the game was over.

© It was good to see rookie Emmanuel Sanders come up with a pair of big third-down catches.

Sanders' second reception, a 15-yard catch on third-and-8 on the first play of the fourth quarter, was an outstanding route. Sanders broke to the middle of the field and then back out to find the open area in the Cleveland zone.

If he can keep on making plays like that, he'll make it very difficult for Antonio Brown to get back on the field - even though Brown is a far better return man.

© Harrison said after the game that defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau had come up with a couple of different defenses to help the Steelers combat Cleveland's wildcat offense with Cribbs.

Of course, Harrison rendered those defenses irrelevant by knocking the bejeezus out of Cribbs on his fourth wildcat play - three runs and one handoff.

Considering the Steelers' next opponent, Miami, also uses the wildcat a lot, it stands to reason that they'll be able to use those same defenses again this week.

© How about old man Flozell Adams' effort running down Joe Haden on Roethlisberger's interception in the first quarter?

After watching Adams struggle with heat issues at Tennessee and Tampa Bay a few weeks ago, I thought Adams might have to call it a day after that.

But he soldiered on and the offensive line had a nice day, not allowing a sack and helping the running game gain 121 yards.

(Dale Lolley appears courtesy of the Observer-Reporter.)


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