Gerry Dulac's Two-Minute Drill
Steelers wide receiver Santonio Holmes catches a pass in front of Browns cornerback Eric Wright in the third quarter of last night's game at Cleveland Browns Stadium.
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On a night when few players made even fewer plays, Holmes caught six passes for 93 yards and surpassed 1,000 yards receiving for the first time in his four-year NFL career. Holmes' biggest catch was a 24-yarder on second down with 15 seconds remaining in the first half, a play that set up the only points in the first half -- a 27-yard field goal by Jeff Reed. He even got a chance to return a couple of punts for the first time this season, evidence that Mike Tomlin was trying anything to generate some offense.
1. CHRIS JENNINGS' 10-YARD TOUCHDOWN RUN: The play was significant mainly because it was the only touchdown in the game. But the score was monumental for the Browns because it marked the first time this season one of their running backs had a rushing touchdown. Harrison's run around the right side came at the end of a seven-play drive in which the Browns converted two third-down opportunities on an eight-play, 74-yard drive that gave them a 13-0 lead.
2. ANOTHER CRIBBS RETURN: The Pro Bowl return specialist, who has three of his eight kick returns for touchdowns against the Steelers, had a 55-yard punt return in the first quarter to set up a field goal that gave the Browns a 3-0 lead.
3. A TAYLOR-MADE CONVERSION: The Steelers did not allow a 40-yard pass play for the first time in five games, but a 37-yard catch-and-run on third-and-13 by rookie Mohamed Massaquoi on CB Ike Taylor set up a field goal.
4. SACKED AGAIN: Ben Roethlisberger was sacked five times in the first half, eight overall, but maybe the biggest came on second-and-5 at the Browns' 23 late in the third quarter, forcing the Steelers to settle for a field goal and a 13-6 deficit.
5. BAD TY-MING: Trailing 6-0, the Steelers recovered a muffed punt by Cribbs near midfield, only to have the play negated when Tyrone Carter held Browns LB Arnold Harrison as his former teammate was attempting to block the punt.
The number of times Roethlisberger was sacked by the Browns, who had 24 in their past 12 games. That's the most sacks the Steelers have allowed since nine to the Philadelphia Eagles last season.
So much for Mike Tomlin's threat to make changes, both in scheme and personnel. The only player change was rotating rookie CB Joe Burnett for a couple of series with William Gay and Ike Taylor, but he never did it again after the first quarter. And he deactivated rookie CB Keenan Lewis, who had some work with the first-team defense in practice. And there was certainly no change in the offensive attack because the Steelers used only 19 running plays against the league's worst defense.
"I would have never imagined we would be in this situation. After the way we started off, then bounced back and got our feet on the ground. I don't know if we can get out of the hole we made."
-- James Farrior on the five-game losing streak
With the wind whipping through Cleveland Browns Stadium and 45 mph gusts creating a feel-like temperature of minus-12, the Steelers did the unthinkable by rushing only 22 times against a Browns defense that ranked 29th in the league against the run. Conversely, the Browns rushed for 171 yards, tying their season high, by rushing 37 times. On one series in the fourth quarter, they ran on eight consecutive plays, including on third-and-11 when Joshua Cribbs got 14 yards out of the wildcat formation.
vs. GREEN BAY PACKERS, 4:15 P.M. DEC. 20: The Packers have won four in a row. They have lost their past three games in Pittsburgh but will be making their first regular-season appearance in Heinz Field.
First Published December 11, 2009 1:52 am