Lolley: Cleveland not ready for the big time

There is no doubt the weather played a critical factor in the Pittsburgh Steelers game Sunday night against the Cleveland Browns.

There is no doubt the weather played a critical factor in the Pittsburgh Steelers game Sunday night against the Cleveland Browns.

But in many ways, it showed why Cleveland is still not ready to overtake the Steelers in the AFC North any time soon.

Trailing 10-3 late in the fourth quarter, Cleveland coach Romeo Crennel opted to kick a field goal with just over three minutes remaining to trim the lead to 10-6.

But Cleveland's defense – the unit the Browns spent nearly $100 million to improve in the offseason – was unable to keep the Steelers from basically running out the clock.

In a game in which the wind kept both teams from throwing the ball deep, the Browns were unable to control the line of scrimmage against the Steelers.

Willie Parker ground out 105 yards on 28 carries against a defense that pretty much knew he was coming play after play.

© In case you didn't notice, rookie running back Rashard Mendenhall didn't get a carry in this one.

Mike Tomlin apparently hasn't forgotten about those three fumbles in the preseason and didn't want to chance it in a close game in wet conditions.

Mendenhall did have a gaffe, though, failing to field a kickoff in the third quarter. He wasn't the only one, however, as Carey Davis also let the short kick bounce instead of fielding it.

Luckily for the Steelers, the ball bounced out of bounds - though it was at the 2. That's a critical error, though it would have been worse had Cleveland recovered the live ball.

© Another week, another big play by Troy Polamalu. This time it was an interception at the goal line at the end of the first half that kept Cleveland off the board.

That's the kind of big plays the Steelers defense was missing last year. They had a good defense, but forced to few turnovers.

After having just 11 interceptions in 2007, they've already come up with four in the first two games this season.

© Sunday's win was huge not only for the fact that it puts the Steelers up two games on the Browns early in the season, but also in that it was the first game of a stretch in which the team plays just one home game in six weeks.

There's a bye in there as well, but the Steelers really needed to be 2-0 heading into this killer stretch.

© Center Justin Hartwig did a credible job on massive defensive tackle Shaun Rogers, controlling him pretty well throughout the game.

Rogers made some plays, but was largely silent in a game in which he could have been a huge factor.

Rogers, by the way, should have been penalized for a late hit on Ben Roethlisberger in the third quarter. He took two steps before ramming Roethlisberger with his shoulder after the QB had released the ball.

Roethlisberger may not get those calls, though, because of the way he stands in the pocket and holds the ball until the last possible moment.

He was shaken up on the play and was walking gingerly in the locker room after the game.

Roethlisberger isn't getting sacked as often as he did in 2006 and 2007, but he is getting a little beat up.

Roethlisberger has a low-grade shoulder separation. It's painful, but not something he can't play through.

© Ryan Clark is throwing his body around like never before and he's paying the price.

Clark said he only had a stinger after nailing Braylon Edwards at the goal line, but it's his second one in two weeks.

© Brett Keisel will be out at least a month and a half with a calf injury.

A rotation of Nick Eason, Travis Kirschke and Orpheus Roye should be able to hold the fort, but another injury on the defensive line would be very bad.

Dale Lolley appears courtesy of the Observer-Reporter.


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