Steelers Notebook: Regular season has familiar finish against familiar foe
December 24, 2010 5:15 AM
All he wants for Christmas ... a festive Steelers fan cheers on his team against the Carolina Panthers Thursday night.
By Ray Fittipaldo Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
It will be a familiar ending to the regular season for the Steelers Jan. 2 in Cleveland.
For the ninth time since 1969, the Steelers and Browns will play in the regular-season finale. But for only the second time in that span, the game will be in Cleveland.
The last time the Steelers visited Cleveland for a regular-season finale was 1983, a 30-17 loss at Municipal Stadium. The Steelers played host to the Browns in 2008, '01, 1993, '92, '91, '87, '83 and '82. The Steelers won every home game except the one in '87.
The Steelers' last visit to Cleveland was not a good one. The Browns beat the Steelers, 13-6, last Dec. 10. It was the fifth of five consecutive losses in November and early December. The Steelers won their final three games against Green Bay, Baltimore and Miami to finish 9-7, but did not make the playoffs.
The Steelers all-time record against the Browns is 61-56. They are 22-35 in Cleveland.
Elias takes one away
Rashard Mendenhall lost his 100-yard rushing game this past Sunday. The Elias Sports Bureau, which keeps the official statistics for the NFL, Thursday took a rushing yard away from him in the game against the New York Jets.
The yard came on the snafu by referee Peter Morelli and his crew, which gave the Steelers a first down even though Mendenhall came up a yard short of the sticks.
Elias, which probably reacted to a complaint by the Jets, made up the yard by giving Ben Roethlisberger a 7-yard sack on the next play instead of an 8-yard sack.
The loss of the yard gave Mendenhall his second 99-yard rushing efforts to go with three 100-yard games this season.
Big play combo
When Roethlisberger and Mike Wallace hooked up in a 43-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter they tied a club record for most touchdowns of 40 yards or more by a quarterback-wide receiver combination. It was the seventh time Roethlisberger and Wallace combined for a touchdown of 40-plus yards. Bubby Brister and Louis Lipps also combined for seven touchdowns of 40 or more yards.
Linebacker James Farrior recorded his sixth sack of the season on the first play of the second quarter when he brought down Carolina quarterback Jimmy Clausen on fourth down. The sack tied a career high for Farrior. It was his fifth sack in the past six games.
James Harrison sacked Clausen in the third quarter for his 11th sack of the season, one more than he had last year.
Left tackle Jonathan Scott was pulled on the Steelers' first drive when he failed to cut block Carolina defensive tackle Derek Landri, tackled Mendenhall in the backfield for a 5-yard loss on first down. Trai Essex replaced Scott.
The Steelers had to settle for a Shaun Suisham 26-yard field goal after the drive stalled at the 8. Scott returned to the game on the next series.
Scott allowed Jason Taylor of the Jets to slash through the line and tackle Mewelde Moore for a safety late in the Jets' game, which forced the Steelers to go for a touchdown instead of a field goal on their final drive.
Perfect no more
Suisham had made his first 12 field-goal attempts, including two Thursday night, before he missed a 41-yarder just before halftime. Suisham replaced Jeff Reed, who was cut in November.
Ben hot early
Roethlisberger's 259 passing yards in the first half were the most he had passed for in the first half of a game in his career.
Another long return
The Steelers' kick coverage is not in playoff form. One week after allowing the Jets' Brad Smith to returned the opening kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown, the Steelers allowed Jordan Pugh to return a kick 36 yards to the Carolina 43 in the first quarter.
From grass to ice
The grass is in great shape. Too bad it's days are numbered. After the game Thursday tonight, a crew came into Heinz Field to start preparing for the hockey rink for the Winter Classic. If the Steelers earn a home playoff game, they will have new grass, courtesy of the NHL. They will have played three games on the turf that was installed after the WPIAL championship games Nov. 27.
Clark not fined
Ryan Clark was not fined for his hit on Braylon Edwards this past Sunday, which means his hit was clean even though he was flagged for unnecessary roughness on the play which helped the Jets score a touchdown. Had the penalty occurred the way Morelli's crew called it -- leading with his helmet to the helmet of Edwards -- Clark would have been fined.
Reserve linebacker Jason Worilds left the game with a knee injury in the second quarter and did not return.
The Steelers did not dress safety Troy Polamalu, running back Jonathan Dwyer, tackles Chris Scott and Tony Hills, defensive tackle Steve McClendon, receiver Arnaz Battle, and defensive end Aaron Smith. Charlie Batch was the No. 3 quarterback.
Carolina scratched receiver Armanti Edwards, defensive backs Chris Gamble, Gerald Alexander and R.J. Stanford, running back Tony Fiammetta, lineman Chris Morris and defensive tackle Ed Johnson. Keith Null dressed as the No. 3 quarterback.
Staff writer Ed Bouchette contributed to this report.