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Steelers Fail To Capitalize On Absence of Levi Brown

There were a number of reasons why the Steelers lost their first game under Head Coach Mike Tomlin this past Sunday: the inability of the running game to get going, the lackluster play of the offensive line, Big Ben's pick in the endzone, shoddy special teams play, et. al.

One of the more subtle reasons for our loss though, was our inability to take greater advantage of the absence of the Cardinals' RT Levi Brown, who sat out Sunday's contest with an ankle injury. It's not that Levi Brown is that good just yet. It's that his replacement, Elton Brown, was that bad. Elton Brown got beat early and often on Sunday. He had false starts, a holding penalty (maybe even two), and got thoroughly manhandled one time by James Harrison on just a standard pass rush (i.e. it was not part of a blitz package).

I commend the play of the Cardinals offensive line, but Mr. Brown was clearly the weak link of the bunch. And we didn't pick on him. That's surprising from a Dick LeBeau orchestrated defense. These games are largely decided by in-game matchups. Take the Eagles-Giants game on Sunday Night. The Giants had a distinct advantage with Osi Umenyiora going against rookie T Winston Justice, who was making his first start in place of the injured Pro-Bowler William Thomas. The Eagles failed to adjust, and the Giants kept making them pay.

We didn't force the Cardinals to adjust by continuing to bring most of our pressure towards Elton Brown's side. Consequently, they were never forced to adjust to us, and they dictated the game offensively for most of the contest. Dick LeBeau is a much smarter defensive mind than I am obviously, but I contend we missed a great opportunity to disrupt their offensive flow when we treated Levi Brown's clumsy replacement as just another OL, not a liability worthy of exploiting.