It was an excellent strategic decision by Browns coach Mike Pettine. Perhaps an obvious one, but it wasn't a typical, no-huddle Browns offense that showed up at Heinz Field during the second half of Pittsburgh's Week 1 win. It was a merciless, hurry-up offense, and it destroyed the Steelers.
As Tribune Review reporter Mark Kaboly points out, the Browns ran 26 no-huddle plays in the second half, and gained 207 yards. That's an outstanding 7.9 yards per play.
And the Steelers were dumbfounded by the pace. They were beaten, exhausted and confused.
But they won't be this time around. While the Browns have that bullet in their chamber, it seems unlikely they'll fire it unless they find themselves down 24 points again, like they were last week against Tennessee. Expect a slower, more methodical pace from the Browns, who will aim to keep the Steelers' offense off of the field. They'll also want to spell their defense which, at this point, isn't playing nearly as well as their offense.
The Browns will also be playing an injured Paul Kruger, who had been one of the league's better pass-rushers through the first quarter of the 2014 season. He missed practice time this week, as did cornerback Joe Haden, who may not play at all, thus forcing green-as-green-can-be Justin Gilbert back onto the field.
Cleveland's defense was able to adjust and support the frenetic pace the offense set in Week 1, but it'll be tough-sledding for them to repeat their second-half lockdown of the Steelers' offense in Week 1. Conversely, the Steelers likely won't be able to match the same offensive blitzkrieg they put on the Browns during the first half - their best half of production to date.
For as fast as Week 1 was, the Week-6 rematch figures to be more ground-oriented, and possession and field position will be keys to success. But the Steelers' defense remembers Cleveland's hurry-up assault and it'll be at the front of Dick LeBeau's mind with each substitution he makes. The Browns can flip the switch and go into no-huddle at any time.
The question is whether they will, not whether they can.