Steelers vs. Browns: Winners and Losers in Pittsburgh's 20-14 loss at Cleveland

Jason Miller

An outstanding defensive performance coupled with one of the poorest Steelers offensive showings the team has had in the last three years stacked the winners and losers columns pretty evenly.

Rarely does Pittsburgh's defense perform so admirably in a loss. Perhaps just as rarely does Pittsburgh's offense hold so many sub par performers.

There's no way around it in Week 12, though; the Steelers offense graded out as badly as it has all season, and perhaps as badly as it has since the beginning of 2010.

Winners

James Harrison - He and Browns left tackle Joe Thomas have been battling since Thomas's rookie year of 2007 - the same year Harrison took over as the team's starting right outside linebacker. It's debatable whether Harrison ever got the better of the game's best left tackle, even with a few draws in there. Harrison won that battle Sunday, racking up nine tackles - four for loss - and a sack. The Steelers held the Browns to 238 total yards, and a big part of that was Harrison's ability to own the edge.

Lawrence Timmons - He now leads the team with three interceptions, and scored his first career touchdown in the loss. Add that to his team-high 10 tackles, Timmons is finding himself locked back into the zone he was in during the earlier part of the season.

Jason Worilds - Filling in for LaMarr Woodley, who suffered an ankle injury in the second quarter (leaving the game without having logged a stat), Worilds racked up two sacks and four tackles, drawing a holding penalty and providing outstanding run support. Worilds now leads the Steelers with five sacks.

Ike Taylor - Despite letting a few picks slip through his hands (nearly becoming the first double-mention in the Winners and Losers column), Taylor helped the league's top-ranked pass defense tighten their grip on that statement, holding Cleveland to 130 yards passing and 3-for-16 on third downs.

Losers

Rashard Mendenhall - four carries, two fumbles (one lost), a long run of three yards.

Isaac Redman - two carries, one fumble (one lost).

Jonathan Dwyer - nine carries, 19 yards, one fumble (lost) and some of the poorest technique displayed on the field this season.

(Note: it's fair to point out Emmanuel Sanders and Chris Rainey each had two fumbles, meriting their inclusion, but Sanders was the only Steelers' wide receiver with more than one catch and Rainey's second effort resulted in the Steelers' only offensive touchdown of the game, thus getting them off the hook).

Mike Wallace - The longer Mike Wallace insists on keeping his arms locked to the side of his body, the less effective he will be as a receiver. Since Ben Roethlisberger's injury, Wallace has eight catches for 47 yards on 22 targets in the last three games. His one catch on seven targets (two were interceptions with Wallace making no effort to challenge the defender for the ball on one, and a somewhat underthrown but catchable ball bounced off his hands on the other) was a season low, and nearly equal to his one catch, five-yard performance the last time the Steelers played the Browns.

Plaxico Burress - His lazy, sloppy and borderline shamefully poor route run on a third down pass in the third quarter led to another Batch interception, and set the Browns up with short field yet again. They scored a touchdown three plays later. Batch threw the ball to where Burress should have been, and the fact Burress seemed to shy away from contact not only suggests he's nothing more than a taller, ganglier and much slower version of Wallace, but he's the wrong choice to try to alleviate the current lack of depth among the receiving group. Steelers coach Mike Tomlin swore he sat down in his routes, and came out of them strong during his workout last week, compelling the Steelers to make a move. Regardless of a pass interference he drew later in the game, or the fact it was one play, it's inexcusable for a veteran receiver - especially one who needs to justify his place on the roster - to round off a route that badly.


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