One concern however is the play of Ike Taylor the past few weeks. Normally Ike is as sure as any corner in the league, however last week he was torched by Calvin Johnson (few aren’t) but he again was lit up this week by Josh Gordon. Gordon is certainly an up and coming playmaker with a lot of talent, however, your number one corner should not allow 14 catches, 237 yards and a TD to anyone. It appeared Taylor was playing too far off the ball and allowing Gordon to catch it vs. letting Gordon beat him downfield and leaving it on the safety to make the play. Perhaps it was strategy, considering the Browns scored 11 points, one could argue it worked, but some questions must be asked with numbers like that.
Other questions were answered on Sunday, by the offense. The question of whether or not the offense is more effective in the no huddle can be put to rest. The answer is yes. They are far better when Ben can call from a select few plays. The team controls the ball more, Ben is in better command and they certainly seem to have a much better rhythm. Furthermore it assists the offensive line as Ben has only been sacked once in the last two weeks since they implemented the strategy for the bulk of the game.
Antonio Brown has bigger play potential when the no huddle is in and if the defense opts to double Brown, Emmanuel Sanders or Jerricho Cotchery can pick up the slack. The no huddle needs to stay for the remainder of the season as there is no doubt it is the best fit for the personnel on this offense and provides the team with the best option to utilize their most potent weapons.
One weapon who looked a little better on Sunday was LeVeon Bell. He netted 80 yards on 23 carries. Still not overly impressive but he provided a few power runs that showed he does have talent and strength. If this team wants to make a deeper run and hope to keep this winning streak alive, the run game will need to net more yards as it’s a necessary means to controlling the clock.
To add to the all-around performance by Pittsburgh, Ben Roethlisberger even added a special teams gem of his own when he pooched punted the ball inside the Cleveland five yard line. It was that kind of day for the Steelers as they won their third straight game, improved to 5-6 and found themselves tied for the final wild card spot in the AFC.
There’s a long road ahead and many questions still left pending but as the team moves through the season, they are starting to find some answers.
NEWS, NOTES, SUPERLATIVES:
Game Ball: Jason Worilds-Five tackles and more impressively, six QB hits. He was a force.
Play of the Game: Big Ben’s pooch punt.
Additional Play of the Game: Antonio Brown’s 42 yard TD reception, the black and gold never looked back after that.
Notes: The Steelers were the first AFC North team to win a division road game this season
Roethlisberger is now 16-1 vs. Cleveland in his career.
Emmanuel Sanders set a new career high in TD receptions in a single season with his 3rd.
Team: 5-6, next up at Baltimore, 5-6, on Thanksgiving night.
Mike Pelaia hosts the website Steel Nation Association www.steelnationassociation.com- Covering the Steelers and helping Children’s Hospital All Day Everyday. You can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.