View Full Version : Game 6 Matchup: Steelers vs. Browns

10-18-2009, 03:01 AM
Game 6 Matchup: Steelers vs. Browns
Gery Dulac breaks down the renewal of the rivalry
Sunday, October 18, 2009
By Gerry Dulac, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Game plan

When the Steelers have the ball: RB Willie Parker has had five consecutive 100-yard games vs. the Browns, but he is returning from a turf toe injury and hasn't played the past two games. Nonetheless, he is expected to start over Rashard Mendenhall. The Browns have the worst rush defense in the league (170.4 ypg) despite the presence of Pro Bowl NT Shaun Rogers. C Justin Hartwig does a good job turning bigger nose tackles, but he will get help from G Trai Essex. The Browns will use their CBs, Eric Wright and Brandon McDonald, in press coverage and try to jam Hines Ward (33 catches) and Santonio Holmes (23) at the line. But, because of that aggressiveness, they have allowed a lot of long pass plays -- 15 of 20 yards or longer

When the Browns have the ball: QB Derek Anderson completed only 2 of 17 passes for 23 yards (15.1 rating) vs. the Bills. But, in his defense, his receivers dropped nine passes -- three by rookie WR Mohamed Massaquoi. Also, TE Robert Royal dropped what would have been a long touchdown. The offense has struggled since last season, producing just three TDs in five games this season and failing to score a touchdown in nine of their past 11. The Browns have had back-to-back 100-yard rushers for the first time in 24 years -- RB Jamal Lewis had 31 carries for a season-high 117 yards vs. the Bills and Jerome Harrison had 121 on 29 carries vs. the Bengals. They will run primarily to the left side of the offensive line behind Pro Bowl T Joe Thomas and G Eric Steinbach. That may change against the Steelers, who lost DE Aaron Smith (torn rotator).
Keep an eye on

OLB Kamerion Wimbley: A former No. 1 draft choice, he has not been the type of edge pass-rusher the team envisioned when they took him with the 13th overall pick in 2006. But, after registering just nine sacks the past two seasons, Wimbley has been moved from the right side of the defense to the left and his production has increased. Wimbley leads the team with four sacks -- half the Browns' total.

The Browns have lost 11 in a row and 17 of the past 18 games against the Steelers -- the longest series losing streak in their history. What's more, they have not scored a touchdown on the road since Nov. 17, 2008, in Buffalo, a span of six games. One of those was a shutout loss in Heinz Field in last year's regular-season finale. The Steelers have won two in a row and are unbeaten in their past eight games at home, including postseason.
To win, the Browns must ...

1. Tame the tandem. James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley, the NFL's top LB sack duo in '08, combined for five vs. the Lions.

2. Stop the drops. They have to overcome the dropsies and make plays on a defense that has allowed 55 points in the fourth quarter.

3. Not let Santonio feel at Holmes. He has 23 catches for 392 yards and two touchdowns in six career games against the Browns.
To win, the Steelers must ...

1. Stay ahead in the red. They have converted their past eight trips inside the opposing 20 for touchdowns (five passing, three rushing).

2. Drill Derek. Anderson is not a three-step quarterback who will try to counter the Steelers' blitz pressure with short drops and quick throws.

3. Put dibbs on Cribbs. Pro Bowl return specialist Joshua Cribbs has two of his seven career scoring returns against the Steelers.

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