A mistake-prone Cleveland Browns squad ended up trounced by the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 10. Losing by a score of 9-30, the Browns had many points of weakness, including 12 penalties for 188 yards. Nonetheless, they enjoyed a decent performance by Johnny Manziel, who completed 33 of 45 passes and threw for 372 yards. His effort was nowhere near good enough to lead his team to victory, however.
Let's take a look at the Steelers squad by position and see how they contributed to the victory at Heinz Field.
Second-string quarterback started against the Browns since starter Ben Roethlisberger was recovering from a sprained foot he suffered in Week 9 against the Oakland Raiders. Within a few minutes, Landry Jones was hobbling off of the field, and subsequently carted into the locker room, with an injury of his own. Super Bowl quarterback and Week 10 backup Roethlisberger took to the field and performed stupendously, especially considering the injury to his foot. Roethlisberger completed 22 of 33 passes for 379 yards and had three touchdowns during the game. Big Ben had one interception, but overall played a smart game, leading his team to victory and avoiding further injury.
Receivers and Tight Ends: B+
Wide receiver Martavis Bryant had 178 receiving yards and one touchdown this week, but he also turned the ball over once as well. Fumbles are avoidable, and against a more formidable opponent, failure to secure the ball could have been extremely costly. Still, Bryant's speed, quickness, and height were a tremendous asset to the team this week.
Bryant wasn't the only strong contributor of this group. Antonio Brown had ten receptions for 139 yards and two touchdowns. Heath Miller had four completions for 40, while Marcus Wheaton finally saw some action today with a pair of catches for 18 yards. Rounding out the receptions list were running back DeAngelo Williams with one catch for 15 yards, fullback Roosevelt Nix with one for 15 on the opening drive, and rookie tight end Jesse James with a catch for two yards.
Offensive Line: C+
Center Cody Wallace struggled tremendously against the Browns rookie nose tackle Danny Shelton. Going into this week against the Steelers, the Browns had the worst run defense in the entire league, allowing an average of 138.8 yards. Somehow, even with those horrendous stats, the Browns were able to limit DeAngelo Williams to 54 yards. Part of the Brown's strong performance against the Steelers running backs is because of the offensive line's poor performance. On a more positive note, the line protected Ben Roethlisberger fairly well, allowing only one sack.
Running Backs: B
Williams had a slow first half, mostly due to poor blocking by the offensive line. Williams managed to total 54 yards with a long run of 12. Running back Jordan Todman had two carries for eight yards. After last week's strong showing against the Oakland Raiders, it was disappointing to see such a weak run game against the team with the worst run defense in the league. Had the offensive line functioned better, Williams surely would have been able to contribute more on the ground. On another negative note, Williams had a fumble.
Williams threw down some very effective blocks to assist in other plays, so his contributions were not limited to his carries as a running back. He makes himself useful on the field even when he isn't in the spotlight.
Defensive Line: A-
The defensive line was very effective against the Cleveland Browns run game. The leading rusher was quarterback Johnny Manziel with 17 yards. Running back Duke Johnson was held to four yards. Running back Isaiah Crowell and wide receiver Travis Benjamin had a combined total of -12 yards, putting th team rushing total at 15 yards. For a unit that has struggled with consistency against the run, today's results were remarkable. Johnny Manziel was sacked sixx times, but was also able to throw for over 300 yards. Though the defensive line played a very strong game, the unit shares a small part of the blame for his success through the air.
Rookie linebacker Bud Dupree had another strong game, proving he was worth a first-round pick. Arthur Moats was responsible for one of the scariest penalties of the game, nearly decapitating Johnny Manziel (or turning the Browns quarterback into an owl.) Still, Moats played with a level of energy and intensity that contributed to several big plays, including a sack. Ryan Shazier had another excellent game, showing he is recovering nicely from his injury earlier in the year. He had five tackles and one sack. Like the defensive line, the linebackers share some of the blame for Manziel's high-yardage day.
It is safe to say (while knocking on wood) that the secondary is OK. Safety Mike Mitchell plays with a different level of speed, aggression, and competitiveness now that he is healthy. He attributed his lackluster 2014 season to injury, and promised to come back strong in 2015. He studied up on the playbook, and was cautious during the off season. The result: Mike Mitchell 2.0. Today he had five tackles and an interception. Thirty-three year old safety Will Allen also had a productive game, tallying nine tackles and one forced fumble. William Gay had seven tackles. Cornerbacks Antwon Blake and Ross Cockrell did not have any flashy plays, but they did not make costly mistakes either.
Special Teams: D
Jacoby Jones struggled against the Browns. Specifically, he struggled to keep the ball in his possession, which is a big problem considering his job description. Kicker Chris Boswell made three field goals, but missed an extra point, something Steelers fans have not had to worry about since the short-lived Scobee era. Coverage seemed a bit better than previous weeks, but the lack of consistency is troubling. Punter Jordan Berry had a fine game. He and Boswell saved the unit from a failing grade.