If you were expecting pretty, you were probably disappointed, although the game-winning touchdown pass and catch were very pretty indeed. That being said, the Steelers won their seventh in a row by beating the lowly Browns in overtime. To be fair, there were a few shining moments that helped pave the way to this win. Let’s take a look at the final regular-season version of the good, bad and ugly from Week 17.
- Landry Jones didn’t buckle despite some ugly throws, sacks and early struggles by the offense. Jones kept fighting despite the adversity and the challenges faced when three integral parts of the offense were missing. Not having Maurkice Pouncey, Le’Veon Bell or Antonio Brown is a huge handicap for the offense, but No. 3 didn’t let that stop him from competing. It was nice to see him throw the game-winner in overtime. That should instill some real confidence in the young backup, regardless of where he ends up after this season.
- DeAngelo Williams shook off the rust and made plays for his team. While his rushing stats weren’t fantastic, he accounted for two scores, and once the running game found some rhythm, the Steelers were able to keep the Browns defense off-balance and this gave the offense room to operate.
- Young wide receivers made plays for the offense. Eli Rogers, Demarcus Ayers, and Cobi Hamilton all stepped up when their numbers were called. It was really nice to see veteran Darrius Heyward-Bey back on the field too. His touchdown-saving forced fumble was a great hustle play.
- Sean Davis put an exclamation point on his award from the team. Eight tackles, a sack and a fumble recovery, not to mention the touchdown-saving tackle on the long run by Isiah Crowell. Davis looked to have the right angle for the tackle early, but Crowell put a move on him and raced down the field. Davis chased that play the entire way and hit him just enough to force the stumble and the tackle. Great hustle by the rookie safety.
- Perseverance wins out again. This team found a way to dig out of the early hole they had helped Cleveland dig for them and pull out the win. We can nitpick a large handful of plays, but a win is a win is a win.
- Jarvis Jones picks the worst time to have a solid game as a Steeler. Three tackles, a sack, a pass defensed and a forced fumble, and he seemed to be playing with a bit an edge. That’s something I haven’t seen much from him in the past. Yes, it’s the Browns, so I’ll temper my enthusiasm. I wrongly predicted in the preseason that this would be Jones’ breakout year as a pass rusher. He’s been serviceable all year covering passes and setting the edge against the run, but the reason he was drafted—getting after the quarterback—never came to fruition. I had high hopes for the young man. But my guess is he won’t be on the Steelers’ roster next September.
- Tackling was terrible throughout the game. Most of the starting defense was on the field on Sunday, and they didn’t tackle well as a unit. Missed tackles on Crowell, Terrell Pryor and both tight ends were the lowlights of this game. You can’t tell me that having James Harrison and Stephon Tuitt back in the mix (hopefully) for the playoffs will totally fix this. It might help but, as a unit, the defense tackled like an uninspired team for a good chunk of this contest. They won’t face the Browns again next week, so here’s hoping the team tackles better against Jay Ajayi and the Dolphins. They should certainly have some motivation since the way Ajayi beat them earlier this season should be reason enough to bring an attitude for getting their tackling corrected.
The Steelers, minus their Big-3 offensive weapons plus some other key components, won their seventh straight. The team that Mike Tomlin put on the field showed great resilience and stayed in the game until the end. Pittsburgh finishes the regular season at 11-5, winning their last seven in a row. The Steelers now have some momentum heading into next Sunday, as Miami limps into town for the Wild Card round.