The Cleveland Browns came close to beating the Pittsburgh Steelers, but ended up losing 14-3 in the end. They trailed 7-3 with minutes left in the game, but had a first and goal inside the Steelers ten-yard line. Browns QB Colt McCoy had looked terrible all game and had his bell rung on a helmet-to-helmet hit by none other than Steelers LB James Harrison (shocking, eh?). In for one play, backup QB Seneca Wallace threw the Browns best pass of the night to get them to that scoring position.
Inexplicably, the Browns coaching staff approve what obviously looked like a groggy and possibly-concussed McCoy back into the game. Three plays later, Colt threw a prayer into the end zone for a terrible interception and the Steelers capitalized on a 79-yard TD pass and run a few plays later to put the game out of reach.
Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger had his left ankle rolled on late in the first half and appeared lost for the game if not more. However, he returned for the second half to the nauseating gushing of compliments from the announcing crew on the NFL Network. Big Ben seemed limited to hand the ball off and passed when necessary against a Cleveland team that seemed content to sit back in coverage rather than blitz and hit the already gimpy QB.
Unfortunately, the Browns are an absolutely horrible offensive team with very questionable coaching leading (?) them. First and goal inside the five yard yard on the game's opening drive had an apparent TD called back to the one-inch line where the Browns promptly lost yardage and had to settle for the field goal. They did have a slid defensive goal-line stand against the Steelers, and had they won the game, many would have questioned the decision for Pittsburgh to go for it on fourth-and-goal.
I guess the Steelers not only had confidence in their defense to hold on and win the game and with Roethlisberger back in the game, he could always drive them downfield and get the last-minute win if necessary. Playing against what is a very bad team always helps and while the Browns defense played their hearts out, their offense makes one wonder how in the world could they have won four games at all in 2011.
Had the Browns kept Wallace in at QB, there is no question to virtually every viewer out there other than the Browns coaching staff that he gave the team the best chance to punch the ball in for what would have been the go-ahead score and perhaps even an upset. A Cleveland win would have thrilled every team outside of Pittsburgh, especially Ravens fans, who would have celebrated a Steelers loss at home on national TV and put even more distance between them and Pittsburgh.
It would have possibly changed the face of not only the AFC North, but the playoff race and cleared up the options remaining in the playoff seeding - at least for one week. Now, the Steelers temporarily are the first team in the AFC with ten wins and leap to the head of the division and conference as they are the first team to play in week 14. They keep the pressure on the Ravens and the rest of the teams in the playoff hunt for another week in a race that will surely go down to the wire and not be decided until the final week of the season and probably be figured out by a series of tie-breakers.