ANALYSIS: Week one haunts Browns in loss to Steelers

Jake Adams headshot

Jake Adams

The Browns and Steelers were both coming into this rivalry matchup with a feeling of all tricks and no treats. In their week 1 meeting, the teams had a tie in a game both teams felt they could have won; however, a lot has changed since that gloomy day.

Tyrod Taylor would have to give up his spot as the starter from injury to the rookie, Baker Mayfield. Steelers fans had some hope that Le’Veon Bell was going to return, but he has been a ghost since the preseason. The Steelers’ defense would continue to haunt them as the Browns’ defense would flourish in the upcoming weeks.

The game started as a typical Browns and Steelers matchup, heavy defensive play and no touchdowns. The Browns would take the early lead with two field goals. After Greg Joseph missed his third attempt, Ben Roethlisberger shook off the cobwebs and launched a pass to Antonio Brown for six. The last thing the Browns wanted was to get into a shootout with the Steelers’ offensive powerhouse.

The game was the opposite of that. If anything, it resembled their first meeting. Turnovers were prominent, with Baker and Big Ben both throwing interceptions in the first half. Flags were flying left and right as both teams rank near the top of the league in penalties. It emphasized how this rivalry is gritty, and players are looking for the big hits to instill fear into their opponents.

Before halftime, Roethlisberger would connect with Brown again for a touchdown. The Browns shadow continues to follow them in terms of not generating touchdowns. They would head into the locker room losing, 14-6 .

The Steelers would come out of the half with a fumble that was recovered by Denzel Ward. The Browns’ zombie-like offense still didn’t take advantage, and the defense had to come back on the field. Gregg Williams has a solid defense, but with overtime and a lack of offense, it has logged many snaps this year.

The Browns had to take a safety from a holding call in the end zone. This is usually a bad play to give up, but after an errant fair catch, the Browns had the ball near the red zone. Then, a roughing the passer call would put the Browns near the end zone. Mayfield would float one to Antonio Callaway for a 1-yard touchdown.

The Steelers would respond with a James Conner rushing touchdown. Now the Steelers were starting to roll with Conner and the rushing attack. Again, more problems of only one side of the ball producing at a given time, instead of the offense and defense working together, all the time. The Browns had no answers on either side of the ball.

TJ Watt continues to haunt Baker Mayfield and was a big part of why the Browns couldn’t move the ball. Mayfield was on Elm Street and the Steelers pass rush was Freddy Krueger. He was running for his life and throwing outside the pocket all game.

A dark storm cloud loomed over Pittsburgh, and rain poured onto the field with 10 minutes to play. Perhaps an omen for head coach Hue Jackson, as there have been rumblings about his job being at stake. The result in Pittsburgh certainly does not help his case, and the poor offensive play makes it even worse.

Personally, I believe the Browns should stick it out this year with Hue Jackson while the front office hunts for a new replacement. Remember general manager John Dorsey brought in Todd Haley and inherited Jackson. I would bet he sticks with Haley over Jackson.

Cleveland finds itself in a tough spot at the halfway mark of the season with a 2-5-1 record. The Browns return home to play a scorching hot Kansas City team next week.

Jake Adams is a columnist. Contact him at [email protected]