View Full Version : Some risks are worth taking

09-16-2008, 12:55 AM
Some risks are worth taking

F. Dale Lolley: dlolley@observer-reporter.com
http://www.observer-reporter.com/or/lol ... wns-column (http://www.observer-reporter.com/or/lolleystory/09-15-Steelers-Browns-column)

CLEVELAND - If there was any doubt that weather is the great equalizer in football, we saw it Sunday night.

Pittsburgh's 10-6 win over the Cleveland Browns was played in misting rain and winds gusting up to 60 mph.

The result was a somewhat sloppily played game that forced both teams to go with more conservative play-calling - at least from the offensive coordinators.

As for the head coaches, they were in the gambling mood because of the weather.

Any significant drive was worthy of an attempt to continue. They just didn know when the next chance to score was going to come.

It worked out for the Steelers, but not for Cleveland - something that's been the norm in this series in recent years.

Midway through the second quarter, with the Steelers mounting their best drive of the game to that point, Pittsburgh head coach Mike Tomlin took a shot at stealing the game's momentum.

On fourth-and-one from the Cleveland 40-yard line, the Steelers were set to go for the first down, lining up in a power formation. Tomlin, however, apparently did not like the defense the Browns were lined up in and called a timeout - just as a Cleveland defender jumped offside.

That did not, however, deter Tomlin from having the offense go for the first down again.

This time, the Browns stayed onside and the quarterback Ben Roethlisberger handed off to running back Willie Parker. Parker sprinted around right end behind a wall of blockers and picked up 13 yards, converting the first down and keeping the drive alive.

The Steelers would finish that possession with an 11-yard touchdown pass from Roethlisberger to Hines Ward, for a 7-0 lead.

It also proved significant because the wind died down considerably for Cleveland's next possession and the Browns drove deep into Pittsburgh territory late in the second quarter.

On third-and-one from the Pittsburgh 12, Cleveland quarterback Derek Anderson ran a quarterback sneak with 17 seconds remaining, resulting in a first down.The Browns were forced to use their final timeout to stop the clock with eight seconds left from the Steelers' 11.

Rather than kick a field goal and go into the second half down 7-3, Cleveland coach Romeo Crennel decided to give Anderson one more shot at a touchdown.

It wasn't a bad gamble. Prior to that possession, Cleveland had only one first down. The drive was easily the Browns' best of the game.

But safety Troy Polamalu stepped in front of Anderson's pass intended for Syndric Steptoe at the 3, intercepting it and ending the first half.

It proved significant because later in the game, when faced with a fourth-down-and-seven play from the Pittsburgh 22 with just over three minutes remaining, Crennel went for the field goal that trimmed the Steelers' lead to 10-6.

Obviously, remembering his earlier gamble, Crennel chose to take the three points and trust his defense.

It was a gamble of a different kind and one that didn't work.

F. Dale Lolley can be reached at dlolley@observer-reporter.com