Remember 0-4

Jim Wexell's notes column following the Steelers' 30-27 win over the Browns.

From the notebook of a sportswriter who heard "a win is a win" so many times in the Steelers' locker room Sunday that he's actually going to try it on on poor, poor, pitiful you:

* Yes, a win is a win. Remember 0-4?

* The Steelers got better last year. They will get better this year.

* But you have to hope it doesn't take a 36-year-old defensive end moving over and playing out of position for someone to finally stop the run around here.

* Brett Keisel said the last time he played on the left side, he was Aaron Smith's backup. Keisel also said, "Obviously I need to get better over there." Well, it was about seven thousand percent better than whomever couldn't stop that stretch play before he moved over there.

* Dick LeBeau called a defensive huddle in the fourth quarter before the Steelers got their two late stops. "He took the emotion part out of it," said William Gay, "and we just focused on what we needed to do and he pointed out some things."

* So LeBeau was the calm, the ice, to Joey Porter's fire. Porter got into the huddle and "He was encouraging," Gay said. "He's the player that we can't put out on the field, so that's the way he gets in the game."

* Someone pointed out to me that my favorite prospect in last year's draft, big wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin, looks like a superstar so far this season. That person also pointed out that the Steelers did the right thing in drafting defensive players first and second.

* Imagine this defense without a couple of young studs in the pipeline.

* And that's why I believe LeBeau will whip his unit into shape. There's some legitimate talent in the wings, and hopefully young strong safety Shamarko Thomas' injured Achilles' isn't serious.

* Browns QB Brian Hoyer said last week that he harbored no bitterness whatsoever toward the Steelers for cutting him in 2012. But a Browns reporter noticed Hoyer pointing at Mike Tomlin after the Browns tied the game. Sounds a little like bitterness to me.

* No word on whether Tomlin pointed back after Shaun Suisham's game-winner.

* I thought Suisham would miss that, just because of the way the day was going. But the special teams were probably the Steelers' highlights of the day.

* The kickoff coverage team was superb in keeping the Browns at their own 15, on average.

* And new punter Brad Wing did well in his debut. He didn't allow any return yardage and netted 40.3 on six punts.

* Of course, nothing could surpass that shocking pass from Robert Golden to Antwon Blake that gave the Steelers a first down on a fake punt. Tomlin called the play that most likely would've ended the game -- and perhaps the season -- had the safety not been able to complete the pass to the cornerback.

* Not that the fourth-and-10 conversion from their own 20 ignited the Steelers, who ran the ball twice, threw incomplete, and punted after having been granted that fourth-quarter reprieve.

* The Steelers' offense works best with three wide receivers in the game as opposed to a fullback or second tight end. That was part of the second-half meltdown which might be getting lost as some of us -- OK, me -- begin blaming the defense.

* Going old school with the offense in the second half was hopefully just a change-up and not a call to run out the clock.

* Even when this defense gets itself straightened out. there's never a good reason to begin grinding clock in the third quarter.

* I worried early in training camp about Le'Veon Bell's weight loss, but he certainly did look quicker and more nimble against the Browns than at any point last season.

* When I get some time, I want to look up the largest lead ever squandered in Steelers history. And then I'm going to look up the last time the Steelers ever had a 100-yard receiver and a 100-yard rusher and lost.

* Just in case they ever come as close to blowing a game like this again.

* Remember, they are 1-0 with smart coaches working quality young talent.

* Keep telling yourself that and you just might believe it.

* If that doesn't work, remember the 0 and 4.

* That could even work as a battle cry.


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