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10-13-2010, 02:02 AM
Week 6 matchup: Cleveland Browns at Pittsburgh Steelers

http://www.sportingnews.com/nfl/story/2 ... h-steelers (http://www.sportingnews.com/nfl/story/2010-10-12/week-6-matchup-cleveland-browns-at-pittsburgh-steelers)

Gerry Dulac

Sporting NewsSporting News

Three story lines

Big Ben is back. After serving a four-game suspension for violating the league’s personal conduct policy, Ben Roethlisberger returns as the starting quarterback for an offense that has leaned more on the run than the pass during his absence. Because of the bye week, Roethlisberger had an extra week to work with the first team and develop rhythm and timing with his receivers.

Who’s the QB? Because of injuries to Jake Delhomme and Seneca Wallace, the Browns will probably be forced to start a quarterback who has never played in an NFL game—rookie Colt McCoy or Brett Ratliff, who was signed off the Patriots’ practice squad this week. That is never a good recipe for success when facing Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau.

Hillis hurting. RB Peyton Hillis, considered a throw-in in the Brady Quinn trade, has provided most of the Browns’ offensive punch, but he is bothered by a recurring quadriceps muscle injury that limited his playing time and effectiveness against the Falcons. Couple that with the injuries at quarterback and the Browns will have a difficult time generating any offense against one of the league’s best defenses.

Three key Steelers

WR Hines Ward. The veteran receiver will probably benefit from the return of Roethlisberger more than any other player. Ward has just six catches for 57 yards and has been a non-factor in the offense in the past three games. What’s more, the Browns have had problems in coverage, especially CB Sheldon Brown.

RB Rashard Mendenhall. He was the NFL’s second leading rusher before the bye week and has two 100-plus-yard outings in four games this season. Not only has he been able to break long runs to the outside, he has been very effective pounding the ball inside between the tackles. Even with Roethlisberger back, the Steelers will not back away from running the ball.

OLB James Harrison. He goes against LT Joe Thomas, whom Harrison thinks is the best left tackle in the league. The Browns strength is the left side of their offensive line with Thomas, G Eric Steinbach and C Kevin Mack, but they will be trying to run against the NFL’s top run defense that hasn’t allowed a run longer than 11 yards.

Three key Browns
RB Peyton Hillis. After back-to-back 100-plus-yard outings against the Ravens and Bengals, his health status for the game is a big key for the Browns. He was not effective against the Falcons because of his injury and will be trying to run inside against ILBs Lawrence Timmons and James Farrior, the team’s two leading tacklers.

WR Mohamed Massaquoi. After being unproductive in the first four games, the Browns moved him to the right side of their offense and he responded with five catches against the Falcons. He will go against CB Bryant McFadden, who gave up the winning TD pass against the Ravens.

CB Sheldon Brown. The Browns are the only team in the league to not allow a rushing TD, but part of the reason is because teams have been able to get behind Brown and CB Eric Wright for eight TD passes. Brown has been especially vulnerable on deep passes, and he will be tested by Steelers WR Mike Wallace.

The bottom line

With injuries at quarterback and running back, it’s going to be difficult for the Browns to move the ball adequately and score points against the Steelers, who have allowed a league-low 50 points in four games. The return of Roethlisberger will provide an emotional lift for the offense, not to mention help take some of the pressure off Mendenhall and the running game. The Browns blitzed and pressured Roethlisberger for eight sacks in the last meeting in Cleveland in 2009 and they will have to do that again to keep this game close. Coming off a loss and getting an extra week of practice with Roethlisberger during the bye, the Steelers will come out charging. Prediction: Steelers 24, Browns 6.

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10-13-2010, 02:08 AM
Steelers vs. Browns
October 13, 2010 01:35 AM
http://www.heraldstandard.com/news_deta ... rowns.html (http://www.heraldstandard.com/news_detail/article/1636/2010/october/13/steelers-vs-browns.html)

Questions, concerns about game

PITTSBURGH (AP) - Figuring out what the Cleveland Browns will do with a new quarterback is a concern. So is Joshua Cribbs running the Browns' wildcat offense. So is moving the Steelers offense out of last place in the NFL passing statistics.

How the fans will greet Ben Roethlisberger during his first regular-season game since being suspended? That's not much of a worry to Steelers coach Mike Tomlin.

Roethlisberger was greeted enthusiastically throughout training camp and the preseason. Tomlin doesn't expect that to change during Sunday's home game against Cleveland (1-4), especially since the Steelers are emerging from the quarterback's four-game suspension with a 3-1 record.

"We get so much energy from our fans, and we work hard to entertain and please them," Tomlin said Tuesday. "That really makes us go. I expect him to get a warm reception. I really do. I know we are excited to have him back."

Some Steelers fans promised months ago to jeer Roethlisberger after his off-field behavior led the NFL to suspend him, but there were no suggestions of fan backlash during two exhibition games and two regular season games.

With Roethlisberger about to play his first regular season game in nine months, the Steelers are weighing whether to introduce the offense before Sunday's game, rather than the defense, because they anticipate an enthusiastic response. Not only from the fans, but from the quarterback himself.

"He is a ridiculous competitor," Tomlin said. "When he has an opportunity to compete, you feel him in the room or the stadium. One of the interesting attributes about him as a player and as a person, when faced with adversity and given the opportunity to compete, man he does. I think guys feed off that."

What Tomlin didn't say is he hopes the Steelers' crowd does, too.

One of Tomlin's challenges is making sure his players don't assume the wins will arrive automatically now that their quarterback is under center again and the Steelers are close to being fully healthy. Tomlin only needs to remind them that Roethlisberger missed only one game during a five-game losing streak last season that ultimately prevented the Steelers from returning to the playoffs.

Although Roethlisberger might be expected to be rusty following such a long layoff, he threw regularly during his suspension. He'll also have two full weeks of practice going into the game, rather than one, because of last week's bye.

"It looks like he is rested," Tomlin said. "He's had a good week of practice. Good practice puts you in position to take advantage of opportunities that present themselves on game days. I'm sure there will be some anxiety, some excitement and nervousness that comes with playing after an extended period of time off. I'm sure he'll quickly get through that."

Although Tomlin wouldn't confirm it, Charlie Batch is expected to be Roethlisberger's backup after starting against Tampa Bay and Baltimore. Byron Leftwich still hasn't played since spraining the medial collateral ligament in his left knee Sept. 2 against Carolina.

With the Browns' Jake Delhomme and Seneca Wallace injured, rookie Colt McCoy is expected to make his first NFL start. Going against the Steelers' defense in Heinz Field isn't the easiest way to begin a career, but Tomlin suggested the Steelers won't prepare any differently for a rookie quarterback than they did for the Ravens' Joe Flacco two weeks ago.

"Those are their issues, like our quarterback issues have been ours," he said.

10-13-2010, 03:11 PM
Expect to see Cribbs at QB Sunday

October 12th, 2010

The top priority for the Steelers Sunday appears to be simple: don’t let Josh Cribbs beat you.

Not as a returner, even if that means swallowing your pride and kicking it away from the Steelers killer, and certainly not as a quarterback.

With it looking increasingly likely that rookie quarterback Colt McCoy will make his first career start at Heinz Field -- and stare directly into the maw of an aggressive not to mention angry defense -- the Browns may have little choice but to give Cribbs significant snaps under center.

It has been well-documented how Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau torments young and inexperienced quarterbacks. And there probably could not be a worse setting for McCoy to make his first NFL start.

The guy who was playing against the likes of Missouri and Baylor at this time a year ago may be called upon to solve a defense that is rested -- and ticked off after giving up a game-winning touchdown the last time the Steelers played.

Cribbs may be the best chance the Browns have of neutralizing the Steelers’ defense while protecting McCoy both from a physical and psychological standpoint.

He is the Browns’ most dynamic offensive player, and he has given the Steelers problems in the past while running Cleveland’s “Wildcat” offense.

Cribbs,remember, gashed them for 87 yards in just eight carries in the Browns’ 13-6 win against the Steelers last December.

And the former college teammate of James Harrison may be the key to the Browns putting points on the scoreboard Sunday -- whether it is by delivering big plays via the kicking game or as a change-of-pace quarterback.

“I think we should expect to see a great deal of Cribbs in the Wildcat regardless of their quarterback situation because he had such success against us a year ago,” Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said. “That’s usually the nature of this league and what makes it so awesome.

"When you show areas of deficiencies usually you are going to continue to see those challenges until you fix it, and we didn’t fix it (last season). We’ll have an opportunity to fix it (Sunday). If we don’t we’re going to see quite a bit of it.”