Bait taken

<b>CLEVELAND - </b> For once this season, it was the Steelers dictating to an opposing offense what it would do against them instead of allowing the offense to decide how the game would be played.

By playing a Cover-2 nickel and dime defense during most of Sunday's 13-6 victory over the Browns Sunday in Cleveland, defensive coordinator Tim Lewis dared the Browns to run the ball.

And Cleveland offensive coordinator Bruce Arians fell into the trap.

Instead of taking a lot of shots down the field, Arians ran James Jackson 25 times against the Steelers for 94 yards, a pretty good day to be sure. But the backup running back also fumbled twice. And while the Cover-2 is designed to take away the deep passing game, throws to the flats are there for the taking. So instead of getting the ball to Andre Davis, Dennis Northcutt and Quincy Morgan, Cleveland quarterback Kelly Holcomb spent most of the day dumping the ball to Jackson and Jamel White. Those two combined for 12 catches for 106 yards.

Cleveland's top three receivers, meanwhile, had just 7 receptions for 90 yards.

For Lewis, it was a no-brainer that you'd rather see Jackson and White catching balls than Davis, Northcutt or Morgan. Lewis gave Arians the rope and the Browns coordinator hung himself with it.

The Steelers defense had some fine stands inside the red zone to be sure, but Cleveland's long pass play of the game was just 22 yards, a winning situation for the Steelers to be sure.

© How about that secondary of the future the Steelers unveiled Sunday?

You had Troy Polamalu and Chris Hope deep at safety, with Chad Scott, Deshea Townsend and Ike Taylor at cornerback for a good portion of the game in the nickel and dime defenses. Add another cornerback to that mix next season and you may have the makings of a pretty solid group.

© Lewis said Hope was playing in place of Mike Logan because of an ankle injury to Logan, but Logan also played a good bit, as did Brent Alexander.

It's OK, Tim, you can admit you wanted to take a look at the kids.

© Tommy Maddox attempted five passes to Jerome Bettis and three to Dan Kreider.

He attempted one to Hines Ward.

Is it any wonder why Maddox was just 9-of-24 for 73 yards in the game?

© I thought somebody snuck Kordell Stewart into Maddox's jersey until I saw Stewart quarterbacking the Bears to a victory over Denver.

Don't ask me how the Broncos lost to the Bears at home. I can't figure this league out this season either.

© That was Bettis going for 93 yards on 24 carries as the Steelers put up 109 yards Sunday.

The Steelers are averaging just over 100 yards rushing in games Marvel Smith plays, 77 in games he doesn't. Coincidence? I don't think so.

© Mr. Jackson, meet Mr. Bell. That hurt just watching it.

© If James Farrior isn't the Steelers' defensive MVP this season, they should stop giving out the award.

Fourteen more tackles Sunday as he continues his march to 100.

There were some people out there who thought getting rid of Earl Holmes in favor of Farrior was a mistake. I'm guessing they don't think that any more.

© The offense is going to have to play much better next week against Cincinnati if the Steelers are going to win for the third time in four games.

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