Pittsburgh Steelers Team Report

The real Pittsburgh defense finally showed up for a game, but it may be a case of too little, too late for the Steelers.<br><br> They forced five turnovers in Cleveland on Sunday, leading to three of their scores and preventing two scores by the Browns. It was the reason they won, 13-6. But that has not been the case all season. They forced only 11 turnovers through the first 10 games even though coach Bill Cowher put an emphasis on creating turnovers in training camp.

"We've been running hard all year, we've been tackling somebody, but we ain't really been hitting nobody," said linebacker Joey Porter. "It's kind of like we lost the nasty out of our D - we were the Big Nasty D but we weren't playing nasty, know what I mean?"

Kelly Holcomb dinked and dunked some passes but the Browns never really had much of a threat through the air. The Steelers sacked him three times and hit him on numerous other occasions. They intercepted Holcomb twice, once in the end zone by Brent Alexander and once with less than two minutes left by Chad Scott to secure the victory. Holcomb was 25 of 44 for 234 yards and no touchdowns.

The Browns didn't fare any better against the Steelers defense on the ground, managing only 90 yards on 28 carries with no touchdowns. James Jackson led them with 94 yards on 25 carries and Jamel White lost 12 yards on his only carry to prevent Cleveland from topping 100 yards.

Pittsburgh's defense, second worst in the red zone in the AFC, held the Browns without a touchdown even though they permeated the red zone four times. They'll need to keep that kind of play up, and get more help from their offense, if they think they can crawl back into the AFC North race.

"We're going to hit some people and beat some people up and take them with us," Porter said.

Back on the Bus, at least this week
The toughest thing the staff had to do was get them ready during the week after they landed at 6:30 a.m. Tuesday morning following a Monday night game in San Francisco. They are the only visiting Monday night team to play on the road the following week and they had to go cross-country and back first. They stuck to Bettis and their ground game on a day in which it was obvious Tommy Maddox just did not have it. Coordinator Tim Lewis made great calls at just the right time on defense.

The only redeeming value to the passing game is that Tommy Maddox did not throw an interception. He threw a 1-yard touchdown pass to tight end Mark Bruener. Maddox completed 9 of 24 for 73 yards and a 59.9 passer rating. He was sacked twice. Hines Ward caught just one pass and Plaxico Burress two.

With five games left, Jerome Bettis could shoot up the NFL career rushing charts if he has a few more games like the season-high 93 yards rushing (on 24 carries) he had in Cleveland Sunday. He needs 127 yards to move past Thurman Thomas into ninth place all-time and 173 to pass former Steeler Franco Harris into No. 8. Bettis also had a season-high run of 21 yards.

This was only the third time this season the Steelers had more than 100 yards as a team with 109 on 31 carries. They scored no touchdowns.

Quick Hits

  • LB Jason Gildon's fifth sack in the past four games kept him in the team lead with six and extended his club record to 77.
  • DE Kimo von Oelhoffen, who leads the team in quarterback pressures, came up with his fifth sack Sunday, a career high for him.
  • CB Ike Taylor, a fourth-round pick from Louisiana-Lafayette, became the first rookie to start a game for the Steelers this season. He opened instead of safety Mike Logan because Pittsburgh wanted to use three corners to cover the Browns' three wide receivers.
  • Marvel Smith returned to start at left tackle after missing all but three snaps of the previous seven games. He allowed an early sack but finished out the game.
  • Jeff Reed missed a 45-yard field goal try wide, then made his next two. The Steelers had no appreciable returns but their kickoff coverage again was excellent.

Quote to Note
"We have to make people scared of us again." -- LB Joey Porter.


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