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    Browns-Steelers Preview

    http://msn.foxsports.com/nfl/story/B...eview-53094727

    Browns-Steelers Preview





    UPDATED DEC 26, 2012 9:35 PM ET

    The Pittsburgh Steelers are in unfamiliar territory under coach Mike Tomlin: eliminated from postseason contention. The Cleveland Browns have become too accustomed to missing out on the playoffs, and mass changes in the organization could be on the way as a result.


    On Sunday the Steelers will host the Browns, with Cleveland looking for its first season sweep of the series since 1988.


    Pittsburgh (7- will miss the playoffs for the fourth time since 2001 after Sunday's 13-10 loss to Cincinnati marked its third straight defeat. It's the second time the Steelers won't be in the postseason since Tomlin took over in 2007.


    But Tomlin said he won't coach any differently this week. The only changes to Pittsburgh's lineup will be by way of injury, not to get a look at younger players with the future in mind.


    "This is an opportunity to play and play to win, to get this sour taste out of our mouth," said Tomlin, who is 62-33 in the regular season. "I am not going to approach it with that (look-ahead to 2013) mentality."


    One Steeler with a particularly sour taste in his mouth is Ben Roethlisberger, who threw interceptions that led to the opponents' game-winning field goals in each of the last two games. Often considered one of the league's most clutch quarterbacks, Roethlisberger shouldered much of the blame for Pittsburgh's struggles in close games this season.


    The Steelers are 3-5 in games decided by three points or less.


    "A lot of it just has to do with me not playing well enough down the stretch," he said. "Fourth-quarter drives or last-minute throws, I'm just not making it happen, so my best answer would be that I just didn't play well enough."


    Roethlisberger's eight interceptions are the second fewest of his career, but four have come in the last three games since he returned from shoulder and rib injuries sustained against Kansas City on Nov. 12, leading some to believe he still shouldn't be playing.


    He's thrown six touchdowns during the same span. Roethlisberger tallied 17 TDs and four picks in his nine games before being injured.


    "We can talk about that in the offseason maybe, but I feel good enough to play," he said.


    Roethlisberger will play without one of his favorite targets, as Pro Bowler Heath Miller will have surgery on Thursday to repair a torn ACL and MCL suffered in Sunday's loss. Miller's 19 red-zone targets are tied for the NFL's fourth-most and his eight receiving touchdowns are tied for third among tight ends.


    The Browns (5-10) can't avoid their 11th 10-plus loss season in the last 14 years after Sunday's 34-12 loss at Denver. A victory on Sunday would be Cleveland's first in Pittsburgh since a 33-13 win on Oct. 5, 2003, and would give coach Pat Shurmur a two-win improvement in his second season with the team.


    It might not be enough to give Shurmur another year, as new owner Jimmy Haslam and CEO Joe Banner have promised to revamp the organization, which has reached the playoffs twice since 1990.


    Such moves might be to the chagrin of some players, like Josh Cribbs, who is playing under his third coach in eight years.


    "Every year you have a constant rebuilding process, not a good recipe for success football," said Cribbs, whose 12.2 yards per punt return rank fourth.


    Neither is not knowing your starting quarterback - exactly the situation Cleveland finds itself in this week. Thad Lewis took first-team snaps on Wednesday with Brandon Weeden and Colt McCoy missing practice due to right shoulder injuries. Weeden was hurt in Sunday's game and McCoy followed suit after coming on in relief.


    A start would mark Lewis' NFL debut, though Shurmur hasn't ruled out Weeden or McCoy. Josh Johnson could serve as the team's backup after being signed as a free agent on Wednesday.


    The Browns may also have to play without running back Trent Richardson, who was carted off the field Sunday because of a left ankle injury. Richardson, who is tied for second with 11 rushing TDs, also sat out Wednesday's practice.


    "The injuries to Brandon and Trent are not as severe as you might have thought," Shurmur said. "We'll see how they come back. If they are healthy and can go, then of course they'll play. If they can't, I have no problem ruling them out."


    Richardson ran for 85 yards and a TD and the Browns forced eight turnovers in a 20-14 home win against the Steelers on Nov. 25. That was only Cleveland's second victory in the past 18 meetings.

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    By JORDAN GARRETSON
    http://stats.washingtonpost.com/fb/p...&home=23&vis=5

    STATS Writer
    (AP) -- The Pittsburgh Steelers are in unfamiliar territory under coach Mike Tomlin: eliminated from postseason contention. The Cleveland Browns have become too accustomed to missing out on the playoffs, and mass changes in the organization could be on the way as a result.
    On Sunday the Steelers will host the Browns, with Cleveland looking for its first season sweep of the series since 1988.
    Pittsburgh (7- will miss the playoffs for the fourth time since 2001 after Sunday's 13-10 loss to Cincinnati marked its third straight defeat. It's the second time the Steelers won't be in the postseason since Tomlin took over in 2007.
    But Tomlin said he won't coach any differently this week. The only changes to Pittsburgh's lineup will be by way of injury, not to get a look at younger players with the future in mind.
    "This is an opportunity to play and play to win, to get this sour taste out of our mouth," said Tomlin, who is 62-33 in the regular season. "I am not going to approach it with that (look-ahead to 2013) mentality."
    One Steeler with a particularly sour taste in his mouth is Ben Roethlisberger, who threw interceptions that led to the opponents' game-winning field goals in each of the last two games. Often considered one of the league's most clutch quarterbacks, Roethlisberger shouldered much of the blame for Pittsburgh's struggles in close games this season.
    The Steelers are 3-5 in games decided by three points or less.
    "A lot of it just has to do with me not playing well enough down the stretch," he said. "Fourth-quarter drives or last-minute throws, I'm just not making it happen, so my best answer would be that I just didn't play well enough."
    Roethlisberger's eight interceptions are the second fewest of his career, but four have come in the last three games since he returned from shoulder and rib injuries sustained against Kansas City on Nov. 12, leading some to believe he still shouldn't be playing.
    He's thrown six touchdowns during the same span. Roethlisberger tallied 17 TDs and four picks in his nine games before being injured.
    "We can talk about that in the offseason maybe, but I feel good enough to play," he said.
    Roethlisberger will play without one of his favorite targets, as Pro Bowler Heath Miller will have surgery on Thursday to repair a torn ACL and MCL suffered in Sunday's loss. Miller's 19 red-zone targets are tied for the NFL's fourth-most and his eight receiving touchdowns are tied for third among tight ends.
    The Browns (5-10) can't avoid their 11th 10-plus loss season in the last 14 years after Sunday's 34-12 loss at Denver. A victory on Sunday would be Cleveland's first in Pittsburgh since a 33-13 win on Oct. 5, 2003, and would give coach Pat Shurmur a two-win improvement in his second season with the team.
    It might not be enough to give Shurmur another year, as new owner Jimmy Haslam and CEO Joe Banner have promised to revamp the organization, which has reached the playoffs twice since 1990.
    Such moves might be to the chagrin of some players, like Josh Cribbs, who is playing under his third coach in eight years.
    "Every year you have a constant rebuilding process, not a good recipe for success football," said Cribbs, whose 12.2 yards per punt return rank fourth.
    Neither is not knowing your starting quarterback - exactly the situation Cleveland finds itself in this week. Thad Lewis took first-team snaps on Wednesday with Brandon Weeden and Colt McCoy missing practice due to right shoulder injuries. Weeden was hurt in Sunday's game and McCoy followed suit after coming on in relief.
    A start would mark Lewis' NFL debut, though Shurmur hasn't ruled out Weeden or McCoy. Josh Johnson could serve as the team's backup after being signed as a free agent on Wednesday.
    The Browns may also have to play without running back Trent Richardson, who was carted off the field Sunday because of a left ankle injury. Richardson, who is tied for second with 11 rushing TDs, also sat out Wednesday's practice.
    "The injuries to Brandon and Trent are not as severe as you might have thought," Shurmur said. "We'll see how they come back. If they are healthy and can go, then of course they'll play. If they can't, I have no problem ruling them out."
    Richardson ran for 85 yards and a TD and the Browns forced eight turnovers in a 20-14 home win against the Steelers on Nov. 25. That was only Cleveland's second victory in the past 18 meetings.

    Molon labe

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    With Brandon Weeden and Colt McCoy hurt, Browns prepare third-string quarterback Thaddeus Lewis to face Steelers in finale

    By Nate Ulrich
    Beacon Journal sports writer
    http://www.ohio.com/sports/with-bran...inale-1.360762
    Published: December 26, 2012 - 11:11 PM


    Cleveland Browns quarterback Thaddeus Lewis runs against the Chicago Bears in the fourth quarter of a preseason game Aug. 30, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)
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    BEREA: The Pittsburgh Steelers started their third-string quarterback Nov. 25 in Cleveland, and the Browns are preparing to return the favor in the season finale this weekend at Heinz Field.


    Not only did rookie starting quarterback Brandon Weeden sprain his throwing shoulder Sunday while being sacked by linebacker Von Miller in the third quarter of the Browns’ 34-12 loss to the Denver Broncos, but backup quarterback Colt McCoy also hurt his throwing shoulder during the game, coach Pat Shurmur revealed Wednesday.


    McCoy might have been injured on the Browns’ final offensive play when linebacker Wesley Woodyard sacked him, causing him to lie on the turf for a moment before being lifted by a teammate.


    Shurmur has not ruled out Weeden, McCoy or rookie running back Trent Richardson for Sunday, when the Browns (5-10) will visit the Steelers (7-. But none of them practiced Wednesday.


    In the absence of Weeden and McCoy, third-string quarterback Thaddeus Lewis took reps with the starters in team drills for the first time and prepared for a potential baptism by fire. He has never played in an NFL regular-season game, but his debut could be on the road against the Steelers’ No. 1-ranked defense.


    “I wouldn’t say it’s intimidating, but any guy that likes football would love the opportunity to play no matter where,” Lewis said. “You’re going to take the atmosphere in. Once you get out there, it’s just guys in front of you, guys you’ve seen and admired, but you actually get to play against them. It’s not time to be a fan. It’s time to be a player.”


    The Browns also signed former Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Josh Johnson and placed safety Usama Young on injured reserve to make room on the active roster. Young will likely need surgery on his thumb, the team announced. Johnson, who was out of the NFL all season, would serve as Lewis’ backup if Weeden and McCoy sit out Sunday.


    “When you have the opportunity to be signed off the street, you’re gonna jump right at,” said Johnson, a fifth-round draft pick in 2008. “If the coach asks or I get in a situation where I’m called upon and put in there, I’m going to do my best to prepare this week like I’ve been around and get up to speed on everything and try to go in there and execute the offense. That’s the plan.”


    Meanwhile, Richardson was also idle after hurting his left ankle against the Broncos, though he hasn’t been ruled out for Sunday, either. Shurmur said neither Weeden nor Richardson, both of whom were selected in the first round of this year’s draft, will need surgery. The news must be a relief, especially for Richardson, who had screws inserted in his ankles to repair torn ligaments while he was in high school.


    “The injuries were not as severe as you might have thought,” Shurmur said. “But they’re still injured.


    “I think you’ve got to overlook the fact that it’s your last game and try to make your decisions based on playing this next game. If they’re able to go, they will. If they can’t, then I don’t have any problem here at the end of the week ruling them out before Sunday.”


    Backup running back Montario Hardesty would start against the Steelers if Richardson cannot play. Hardesty has compiled 51 carries for 234 yards (4.6 average) and one touchdown this season.


    “When I get a chance I’ve got to maximize my opportunities, and that’s what I’ve been trying to do,” said Hardesty, a second-round pick in 2010. “If that’s more carries this game, I’ll do everything I can to help my team win.”


    Lewis has adopted a similar attitude. He said he views the possibility of starting against the Steelers as a chance to prove himself, not a chore.


    “When your number is called, it’s an opportunity,” said Lewis, who completed 9-of-17 passes for 146 yards with one interception in the preseason. “In this league, you have to take advantage of those opportunities. If this is my one opportunity, I have to make sure I’m ready, prepare myself and give it my all.”


    Lewis joined the Browns last year when they claimed him off waivers from the St. Louis Rams. In 2010, he spent his rookie season with the Rams while Shurmur served as their offensive coordinator.


    The 6-foot-2, 200-pound Lewis, a four-year starter at Duke University who signed with the Rams as an undrafted free agent, spent all of last season on the Browns’ active roster, but he never played. This season, he spent the first five games on the 53-man roster and the past 11 weeks on the practice squad. Director of Player Personnel Jon Sandusky called Lewis on Monday to tell him he would be promoted.


    “You know when they tell you they’re calling you up, you know something is up,” Lewis said.


    Instead of playing the role of a receiver or another skill position for the scout team, Lewis was suddenly running the first-string offense in practice. He insisted he has a strong grasp of Shurmur’s West Coast system.


    “Whoever’s in there, I trust,” Shurmur said. “I’ve had experience with Thad in the past. He hasn’t had a lot of opportunity in regular-season games to go in there and play. But if he’s in there playing, we definitely trust that he’ll do a good job.”


    Still, there’s quite a difference between knowing the plays and executing them on the road against the Steelers. Their defense is ranked first against the pass (185.4 yards allowed per game) and second against the run (87.5 yards allowed per game).


    “It’s a very difficult environment,” Pro Bowl left tackle Joe Thomas said. “Obviously they’ve got some of the best fans in the NFL. It’s going to be loud. It’s going to be difficult to hear. It’s going to be difficult to call the play in the huddle.


    “There’s definitely things we’re going to have to do to help him. It’s going to be important just to run the ball and have a good efficient run game going, so that it’s not all about him throwing the ball and trying to beat their defense by himself.”


    The Steelers fell 20-14 to the Browns in Week 12, when third-string quarterback Charlie Batch started because Ben Roethlisberger (shoulder/ribs) and Byron Leftwich (ribs) were sidelined. Now Roethlisberger is back and hoping to help the Steelers avoid being swept by the Browns for the first time since 1988 and dodge their first losing season since 2003.


    Although Lewis is getting ready to enter the limelight, he’s not counting out Weeden and McCoy just yet.


    “Those guys are competitors, and I know they will do whatever they need to do to get back,” Lewis said.


    Hardesty has the same feelings about Richardson.


    “I’m sure he wants to play,” Hardesty said. “He’s been playing with [a rib injury] all year. I’m sure he’s going to try his hardest to get back. However that shakes out, it will shake out.”

    Molon labe

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    Tomlin preps Steelers for meaningless finale
    Story posted 2012.12.26 at 07:51 AM EST

    http://wap.wpxi.com/site.htm?targetU...-finale/nTfnk/


    For the first time in his six-year head coaching career, Mike Tomlin will go into a game with his team already eliminated from playoff contention.
    Tomlin insists he isn't going to treat the week of preparation any differently.
    A day after his Pittsburgh Steelers were knocked out of the postseason race with a loss to Cincinnati, Tomlin vowed that injuries would be the only factor dictating lineup changes for the regular-season finale Sunday.
    Don't look for an abundance of younger players auditioning for 2013 jobs.
    "This is an opportunity to play and play to win, to get this sour taste out of our mouth," Tomlin said. "I am not going to approach it with that (look-ahead to 2013) mentality."
    Among those who won't play for the Steelers (7- against the Cleveland Browns (5-10) is tight end Heath Miller, who sustained multiple torn ligaments in his right knee during the loss to the Bengals.
    Miller, a prime candidate for the Pro Bowl and team MVP, has torn anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments as well as a possible tear in his posterior cruciate ligament.
    Typical recovery time would extend well into next season's training camp. Just this past year, Steelers running back Rashard Mendenhall, offensive tackle Max Starks and nose tackle Casey Hampton began camp on the physically unable to perform list after sustaining torn ACLs over the first eight days of January.
    "I think we need to let the dust settle to know exactly what it is we're dealing with before we start framing his recovery or his rate of recovery," Tomlin said.
    "He's been rock-solid for us, and we really appreciate his efforts."
    Miller, of course, faces surgery. Reserve running back Baron Batch had surgery to repair a broken forearm on Monday morning. Tomlin said roster moves will be made to replace those two so that the Steelers are not carrying any "dead weight" for Sunday's game.
    Starting cornerback Ike Taylor (ankle fracture) is getting closer to being cleared to play after missing the past three games. But Tomlin indicated there isn't any reason to rush him back.
    Receiver Mike Wallace (hip strain), rookie guard David DeCastro (left hamstring) and cornerback Curtis Brown (left ankle) also were injured during the Bengals game and will be evaluated throughout the week. Cornerback Keenan Lewis also was noticeably hobbled Sunday.
    Tomlin acknowledged that quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is "less than 100 percent," but refused to attribute his struggles over the past three games to the effects of a shoulder and rib injury that sidelined him in the previous three contests.
    Roethlisberger had 17 touchdowns and four interceptions in nine games before being knocked out against Kansas City Nov. 12. He has had four interceptions in the three games — all losses — since coming back.
    Roethlisberger's 58.6 passer rating Sunday was his third worst for a game since Nov. 3, 2008, when he was knocked out of a win at Washington with a shoulder injury.
    "You can attribute it to whatever you want to," Tomlin said. "Obviously, the play is what it is. It hasn't been consistently good enough for us to win."
    The same can be said for the Steelers as a whole. Impressive wins at the New York Giants and Baltimore this season were overshadowed by head-scratching losses at Tennessee and Oakland, each on a last-second field goal after Pittsburgh blew a fourth-quarter lead, then failed to win it with a scoring drive later.
    "We've been in a lot of close football games and we just consistently haven't made the necessary plays to win those games," Tomlin said.
    "We're 3-5 in games decided by three points or less; that's just not good enough in the NFL. A lot of games unfold in that manner. You have to make the critical plays down the stretch in those games if you want to be a consistent winner. We haven't done that, and that's why we sit here in the position we are in."

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    Just when you think Tomlin can't get any more annoying, he says he's gonna try to win and not play young guys with thoughts of preparing for 2013.

    I was thinking this could be better than any preseason game for a lot of young players. But I guess we don't want to get any experience for young guys. Let's trot out Hampton and Keisel and Starks. Lets dress Plax this week. Get Foote some more experience. Good grief.

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    Quote Originally Posted by flippy View Post
    Just when you think Tomlin can't get any more annoying, he says he's gonna try to win and not play young guys with thoughts of preparing for 2013.

    I was thinking this could be better than any preseason game for a lot of young players. But I guess we don't want to get any experience for young guys. Let's trot out Hampton and Keisel and Starks. Lets dress Plax this week. Get Foote some more experience. Good grief.
    So an NFL coach trying to win games is annoying?? Unless it's a pre-season game (designed for player analysis) you ALWAYS play to win. ALWAYS!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sugar View Post
    So an NFL coach trying to win games is annoying?? Unless it's a pre-season game (designed for player analysis) you ALWAYS play to win. ALWAYS!
    This is the first preseason game of 2013.

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    Quote Originally Posted by flippy View Post
    This is the first preseason game of 2013.
    This is the final game of the 2012 season. Nothing more. Nothing less.

  9. #9
    If the Steelers play guys just for experience and don't actually try to beat the goddamn Browns, I will go apesh!t for the first time this season...

    The Browns are playing guys for experience. That's what losers do.

    That's not what we do...

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    Quote Originally Posted by flippy View Post
    Just when you think Tomlin can't get any more annoying, he says he's gonna try to win and not play young guys with thoughts of preparing for 2013.

    I was thinking this could be better than any preseason game for a lot of young players. But I guess we don't want to get any experience for young guys. Let's trot out Hampton and Keisel and Starks. Lets dress Plax this week. Get Foote some more experience. Good grief.
    I don't know flip. Due to all the injuries, I think the Steelers will be playing plenty of young guys. I would just like to see some good football played on both sides of the ball for a change.

    What a contrast reading the Browns sorry struggles. Two playoff appearances in 22 yrs! I am afraid half of SteelerNation would be jumping off tall buildings with such a dismal record. I wouldn't necessarily say Steeler fans are 'spoiled', but I would agree that some have some extremely high expectations for the team. What is worrisome is whether these recent Steeler struggles are the beginnings of a decade long slide or just a retrenchment. Only time will tell.

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