aeg;klajdav.awlkje,cadm. Oh, my bad, pardon me, that was just me hitting my head against the keyboard with great force multiple times after that ridiculous debacle of a game. The Pittsburgh Steelers committed eight, yes, count 'em, eight (hell yeah I'm counting the one at the end) turnovers while playing the previously 2-8 Cleveland Browns. THE BROWNS. CLEVELAND BROWNS. EIGHT TURNOVERS. WHERE'S THE ALCOHOL.
So the Steelers were starting their third-string, 37-year-old quarterback, Charlie Batch. With Ben Roethlisberger (congrats, new dad!) (okay now hurry back!) out as well as his backup Byron Leftwich, Batch took the helm and the Steelers imploded. It was the second loss to the Browns in their past 18 matchups. I'd keep using capital letters but I'm trying not to frighten you off. I'm actually shocked the Steelers only lost by 6 points -- there were five fumbles by four different backs and one receiver, and three interceptions of Batch. Cleveland scored 17 points off of those turnovers, and the Steelers were lucky that was it.
This is the second straight loss we've had to suffer, with Roethlisberger out for probably the most important stretch in the Steelers season. They're now at 6-5, and the hyped-up game against the Baltimore Ravens next week may not be as important as it could have been had the Steelers won against the Browns. Now of course we're back to "must-win" games week after week, which the Steelers really seem to enjoy putting their fans through toward the end of the season.
Overall, the game was sloppy and borderline stupid. There were a total of 18 penalties. There were multiple chances for a comeback victory, which all ended with turnovers ... or penalties. The fourth turnover by the Steelers led to a Browns touchdown, when rookie running back Trent Richardson ran into the endzone on a 15-yard, rather embarrassing play, with 5:19 left in the third quarter. The second-to-last turnover occurred with 2:25 left when Chris Rainey, who was playing after Rashard Mendenhall, Jonathan Dwyer (who racked up the most yards out of all the RBs ... with a total of 19), and Isaac Redman ALL COMMITTED FUMBLES, was hit after an 11-yard reception and fumbled. After getting the ball back with 20 seconds to go, receiver Emmanuel Sanders committed the eighth turnover when he fumbled after catching a lateral from Mike Wallace. I'd list all the others, but then this post could end up being 1,000 words long. And at that point at the end, the few Steelers fans at the bar were simply laughing instead of cursing and sputtering.
Though Rainey had that huge fumble, he also had a pretty incredible 1-yard touchdown with just one second left in the second quarter. He was stopped and looked to be short of the goal line, but then he bounced off some guys and ran around straight into the endzone. Ah, silver linings.
That was one of the nicest Steelers drives of the game. They went 84 yards on 9 plays, pulling together even after those early fumbles. Batch was able to complete 4 passes, and then Plaxico Burress (yeah, this was pretty much all he did after a much talked-about return to the NFL) drew a pass interference penalty. That set up Rainey for the Steelers' only offensive touchdown. Emmanuel Sanders had a very productive day, with 5 catches for 75 yards. Heath Miller also tried to step up, but Batch couldn't seem to get into rhythm with Mike Wallace or Burress. Wallace needed to step up, and he didn't, seeming to give up multiple times and juggling the ball during a seeming-catch that turned into yet another interception. He didn't catch the ball once during the whole game.
But the game started off pretty well for the Steelers! Lawrence Timmons was able to intercept Brandon Weeden (who completed 17 passes out of 26 attempts for 158 yards, in case you actually cared) and return it for a touchdown, just 2 minutes into the game. It was way too good to be true, though. Mendenhall proceeded to fumble on his second carry, which the Browns turned into 3 points. It really was just the beginning of the end. The Steelers, believe it or not, led this stupid game 14-13 at halftime despite those three fumbles and converting just one third down!! Then again, it is the Browns, which makes this loss hurt that much more.
How the heck can a team win when all four running backs fumble the ball? The answer: You can't. Batch simply didn't make enough big plays, and what can you do when every single running back fumbles the ball? If the Steelers were playing against the Ravens or the Patriots, you bet your ass the score would be totally different from 20-14.
Batch was just 20-of-34 for 199 yards. He came up with some big plays, but those three picks killed any momentum the Steelers may have been building. Two of those picks came in the fourth quarter when all the Steelers needed was a TD to win the game. When the heck is Ben coming back, anyway?
If you want some even better news, on top of our all-star lineup of injured players, including Antonio Brown, Troy Polamalu, and of course Roethlisberger, linebacker LaMarr Woodley injured his ankle in the first half and didn't come back after the half. Rookie right tackle Mike Adams hurt his ankle as well, and he was replaced by Kelvin Beachum (who?). Great.
So, anyway. The Steelers lost to the Browns. I repeat, the Steelers lost to the Browns. Put a nail in the coffin that is this tumultuous season. The only highlight was that the defense was at least ready to play this game, and with another big play, they could have won it for the beleaguered offense. Brett Keisel had a great sack, James Harrison is playing the best he has all season, Ryan Clark seems to be everywhere, and they were able to keep the Steelers in the game. But then again, like I said before, it IS the Browns.
In conclusion: UGH. The whole game, besides the beginning, felt kind of like a surreal, bizarre nightmare. I mean, it's one thing to struggle with your third-string quarterback, it's another to completely fall apart and commit EIGHT turnovers against the BROWNS. The BROWNS. I think it's safe to say that the Steelers won't have much of a postseason run in the next couple of months. It's amazing how a couple of weeks can change the outlook on an entire season -- and having your star quarterback out during three division games. We were all riding high just a couple weeks ago on some close Steelers wins, thinking about dem playoffs. Sigh, it simply wasn't meant to be, it seems. So, Steelers fans, buckle up for a few more horrible weeks (especially next week) and see what happens. Needless to say, my liver has taken a beating these past two games, and I'm anxious to see which Steelers will be playing next week against the Ravens. Kudos to all you Steelers fans for riding out this rough wave, though. There's always next year!