Recent Posts

Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Cleveland Browns Postgame Analysis

I hope the Steelers call Darrius Heyward-Bey “WeeBay” in the locker room.
Photo via

Final Score:

Browns 24 ? Steelers 28

Passing Stats:

Quarterback Completions Attempts Yards QBRating
DeShone Kizer 16 30 310 98.5
Landry Jones 23 27 239 100.5

Receiving Stats:

JuJu Smith-Schuster: 9 receptions for 143 yards – 1 Touchdown

Martavis Bryant: 6 receptions for 65 yards

Fitzgerald Toussaint: 2 reception for 9 yards

Jesse James: 2 receptions for 9 yards

Vance McDonald: 1 reception for 5 yards

Roosevelt Nix: 1 reception for 5 yards

Darrius Heyward-Bey ? 1 reception for 4 yards

Xavier Grimble: 1 reception for 2 yards

Eli Rogers: 1 reception for 1 yard

Rushing Stats:

Stevan Ridley: 17 rushes for 81 yards, Avg: 4.7 yards – 1 Touchdown

Darrius Heyward-Bey: 1 rush for 29 yards, Avg: 29.0 yards – 1 Touchdown

Fitzgerald Toussaint: 5 rushes for 22 yards, Avg: 4.4 yards

Kicking Stats:

Chris Boswell ? FGM: 0 for 0, PCT: 0%, XPM ? 4 , 4 PTS.

Game Summary:

The Pittsburgh Steelers took the field on a snowy afternoon at Heinz Field for their regular season finale, against a Cleveland Browns team that was looking for their first win of the 2017 season. With starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and other notable starters inactive, the Landry Jones-led Steelers ended the regular season with a 28-24 victory, giving them a 13-3 record and the Number 2 seed in the AFC. This victory also secured the Browns’ first winless season in franchise history.

The Steelers offense did not wait for an invitation, as veteran receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey took an end-round play 29-yards into the end zone, giving this Steelers the early 7-0 lead.

In the second quarter, the Steelers offense struck again as rookie receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster‘s 20-yard touchdown capped off an 8-play, 72-yard drive giving them a quick 14-0 lead. On the ensuing drive, Browns rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer‘s 54-yard completion to receiver Josh Gordon put the Browns within scoring distance, which was completed by Browns running back Duke Johnson Jr.’s 2-yard touchdown, cutting the lead to just 7. On the following drive, the Steelers offense struck back as Jones led an 8-play, 75 yard drive, finished off by Steelers running back Stevan Ridley‘s 4-yard touchdown. The Browns offense was quick to respond on the following drive, as Kizer found receiver Rashard Higgins down the middle for the 56-yard touchdown, cutting the lead to just 7 before the end of the half.

In the third quarter, the Browns offense struck early as runs by Browns running back Isaiah Crowell and a 34-yard completion rookie tight end David Njoku, culminated with Higgins’ second touchdown of the game, tying the contest at 21 apiece. On the ensuing kickoff, rookie sensation Smith-Schuster received the ball from his own 4-yard line. Ninety-six yards later, he found himself in the Browns endzone, helping his Steelers break the tie and re-gain the lead. On the ensuing drive, the Browns kicker Zane Gonzalez‘s 51-yard field goal cut the Steelers lead to just 4 points.

In the fourth quarter, the Browns offense dominated time of possession and put together impressive drives, but the Steelers defense came up with big plays courtesy of a forced fumble by veteran cornerback William Gay and an interception later in the quarter by safety Sean Davis. On the Browns last play of their drive late in the contest, a dropped pass by receiver Corey Coleman all but sealed the Browns first winless season in franchise history.

The story for the Steelers on this day was the dazzling rookie (both on and off the field) Juju Smith-Schuster, who put together a performance worthy of consideration for Rookie of Year. He not only accounted for 143 receiving yards and a touchdown, but he also became the first Steelers player to score off a kickoff return since 2010. He was productive whenever he was on the field and was arguably the best player on the field next to Josh Gordon. In all, Smith-Schuster ended the season with 917 receiving yards, and surpassed the franchise rookie record set in 1958 by Jimmy Orr. Backup running back Stevan Ridley had a strong day running the ball, accounting for 81 rushing yards on 17 carries. Backup quarterback Landry Jones, who made his first start of the season, completed 23 passes on 27 attempts, which included a touchdown pass. Lastly, receiver Martavis Bryant, who has made it a habit of making important catches on 3rd down, accounted for 65 receiving yards.

With 56 sacks this season, the Steelers defense set a new franchise mark, which was established in 1994 and 2001. Leading the way was defensive lineman Tyson Alualu, who accounted for 8 total tackles and 2 sacks. Rookie outside linebacker T.J. Watt accounted for 8 total tackles and a sack; Watt ended the season with the second most sacks by a rookie in franchise history. Sean Davis had a productive day with 3 total tackles, a sack and an interception, while linebacker Vince Williams ended the day with 4 total tackles and a sack. Lastly, linebacker Sean Spence ended the day with 6 total tackles.

Postgame Commentary:

The end of this game not only marked the end of the 2017 regular season, but the beginning of the roller coaster ride that will be the 2017 NFL playoffs. This is the time of year where records and points make no guarantees for success, as each team that earned their way in the postseason have as much chance to play in the Super Bowl as the other. Perhaps the aspect of the playoffs that players and their respective fanbase fear the most is the unexpected.

The first team that comes to mind are the 2010 Seattle Seahawks. Let’s think about it. That team finished the season 7-9 and was rated one of the worst teams in NFL history to make the playoffs. To make matters worse, their first opponent where the then-defending Super Bowl champions, the New Orleans Saints, who finished the regular season with an impressive 11-5 record. I am more than certain for those that viewed that game, no one would have expected a then-emerging talent Marshawn Lynch to put together one of the most impressive individual efforts in playoff history. More importantly, no one would have expected this Seahawks team, whom many believed were not worthy of the postseason, would shock the NFL world and pull off a David and Goliath-like victory.

For the Pittsburgh Steelers coming off one of the most eventful, emotional and controversy-filled seasons in recent memory, nothing is guaranteed. With the uncertainty of the future of their starting quarterback, the training camp holdout of their talented All-Pro running back, watching the heart and soul of their defense sustain a likely career-ending injury, the dramatics involving two of their most talented receivers, and the conflict-ridden departure of their most veteran player, this Steelers team has somehow been able to persevere, and rise above it all and achieve things that perhaps much of the fanbase did not think could happen.

With all these obstacles taken into account, this Steelers team has the ability to overcome anything and everything that is likely to come their way during the playoffs. We can sit here and analyze what this team is lacking on both sides of the ball ad nauseam, but even that may not help us predetermine what fate lies ahead for this team. The one thing I know is that this time of year is a mental process. The team that is mentally stronger is generally the team better equipped to make a deep playoff run. I have no doubt the Steelers are one of the most talented teams heading into the playoffs. The pending question — is this team prepared mentally to endure and persevere through the obstacles that lies ahead? We will all soon find out.

Steelers Play of the Game

Rookie JuJu Smith-Schuster shows everyone that he’s not just a talented receiver, as returns this kickoff for 96-yards into the end zone.

Born and raised Ottawa, Ontario Canada, Kelly is a Steelers contributor to The Point of Pittsburgh. Formerly a contributor for SBNation's 'Behind the Steel Curtain'. Kelly can be reached via the Twitter handle @kanozie80

16 Comments on Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Cleveland Browns Postgame Analysis

  1. Boy, that JuJu is one special player, has the city by the nads…..good for him!

  2. This is the first time I didn ?t find nd Jones to be a complete train wreck.

    • Del Scott // January 1, 2018 at 1:10 PM //

      Not sure when you are referring to Landry being a train wreck. First , he’s a back-up, nothing more. He started 3 games the past two years. He is 76 of 114 (67%), 797 yards with 5 TDs and 3 INTs.

      In addition he is 2-1 in those games with the loss coming to NE and the other two games he played with back-up. I’m not sure what more you want from a back up.

      • Kelechi Anozie // January 1, 2018 at 8:26 PM //

        That’s true, yet year after year, much of this fanbase tries to find reasons to push him out the door. Considering the amount of starts he’s had as a backup, not sure how much more people would want. The New England game last season, he actually performed quite well and gave his team a chance to win. I think it’s become fashionable within much of this fanbase to criticize him when he makes mistakes in the preseason, but I’ve always had no problems with him here.

        • Bob Stover // January 3, 2018 at 4:02 PM //

          Send Landry Jones to the 49’ers and see if he comes close to duplicating what Jimmy Garropolo has done. NO WAY! He’s a warm body who knows the Steelers system, but he couldn’t even win consistently in the pre-season when the Steelers rarely use their starters. He was a wishbone QB at Oklahoma who has never really adapted to the pro-style game. If Ben really does decide to hang them up after this year, do you envision Jones as the starter next year? Didn’t think so!

          • Kelechi Anozie // January 3, 2018 at 7:07 PM //

            You’ve completely missed the point no offense. No one has ordained Jones as being the successor to Ben, but as a backup quarterback, he’s been much better than much of this fanbase doesn’t give him credit for.

            Comparing Jones and his skillset to Garoppolo is very much like comparing fillet mignon to plain chicken; there’s no comparison. More to the point, no one is saying that Jones is ever going to be more than a backup.

            The fact is that when you go back and look at his performances when he’s been given the chance to start, he’s not only represented himself well, but he’s exceeded most people’s expectation.

            He like everyone on this team have a specific value and a specific role; if he wasn’t playing up to that, they likely would have let him go a long time ago.

            In summary, in a league where there are very few decent backups, he’s probably one of the better ones.

          • Bob Stover // January 4, 2018 at 11:17 AM //

            I’ve always felt that Jones lack of experience was a detriment to his role as an effective back-up QB. In the past, the Steelers have relied on guys like Charlie Batch, Byron Leftwich, Bruce Gradikowski and even Michael Vick. I’ve never felt like the Steelers had an adequate back-up when they had to rely on either Dennis Dixon or now Landry Jones.

            I don’t believe it’s unfair to compare one team’s back-up QB’s to the back-up of another team. Until the last six weeks, Garropolo, like Jones, was a career back-up. Tom Brady was a career back-up until injury thrust him into a starting role. Both were obviously better quality QB’s than either Dixon or Jones.

            It is my opinion that salary cap issues have forced the Steelers to do with a less than stellar back-up over the last four years. Jones has actually only been the real back-up last year and this. Prior to that he was the third string guy who carried the clip board and didn’t dress most Sundays.

            The problem with having a superstar franchise QB like Big Ben is that many teams fail to adequately address what they would do if that superstar were to go down. I prefer a back-up who has experience as a starter and maybe just didn’t have quite enough to make it as a #1 somewhere else. A 4th round pick with no experience elsewhere and not many opportunities with the Steelers leaves them dangerously exposed come playoff time.

            A good example is that the Eagles have lost their new franchise QB, Carson Wentz, for the rest of the season. Many experts give the Eagles a decent chance to make it to the Super Bowl because their back-up, Nick Foles, has extensive NFL experience as a starter, in his prior incarnation with the Eagles and Chip Kelly’s offense, and with the KC Chiefs. Who would you rather have as your back-up? Foles or Jones. Since you didn’t like my earlier comparison to Garropolo, what other contending team has a back-up so lightly regarded as Landry Jones?

          • Jim Barbe // January 3, 2018 at 9:46 PM //

            Bob, Landry was not a wishbone QB at OU that I do know…he backed up Sam Bradford before becoming the starter when Bradford got injured. I don’t even remember the last time OU ran the wishbone….that’s going back a ways.

          • Kelechi Anozie // January 4, 2018 at 4:57 PM //

            Let’s remember something very important, the quarterbacks that you listed had one of 2 things in common which were deemed problematic prior to Landry Jones getting drafted (Vick the exception since he came in 2015); a) they were all injury prone b) getting too old by NFL standards.

            Much of this fanbase wanted them to get younger at backup and they did so with Jones.

            Secondly, Garoppolo was drafted in the 2nd round and you could make the argument that he could have been easily a late 1st round pick based on the body of work we’ve seen thus far with the 49ers. Landry Jones was picked in the 4th round and rightfully so, his skillset suggested such. Like I noted, you are your skillset, which is why the comparison between the two is kind of ridiculous.

            Thirdly, when you say less-than stellar, what exactly are you looking for? I can tell you this, there is no way a Garoppolo-type QB would have stayed that long being a backup in Pittsburgh, and cap space would have likely not played a factor. Someone like Jones is perfect because he knows his place and if they were to draft another QB in couple of seasons, he would still know his place. It would have been dumb on the Steelers part to waste money on a backup QB that would have likely wanted out after a short period of time. Their best bet would have been to save that money to sign their corps players, which they’ve done so with Antonio Brown, the entire offensive line, and more to come. So having Jones in the long run has saved the Steeler money.

            Lastly you mentioned Nick Foles, Foles as far as I remember had one good season (2013), since that time bounced to different teams before coming back. His performances as of late haven’t been good at all, and I wouldn’t be shocked if the Eagles lose in the first round because Foles is not the type of QB that is hard to gameplan, in comparison to someone like Wentz.

            Here’s the bottom line, a ‘stellar’ backup QB is nice to have, but as the 2000 Ravens (Tony Banks), 2006 Colts (Jim Sorgi), 2010 Packers (Matt Flynn), and especially the 2015 Broncos ( Brock Osweiler and Trevor Siemian) have all shown; you don’t necessarily need a great backup QB to win or in the case of the teams noted, win a Superbowl. Just one that understands his role and knows the system; whether you like him or not, Jones fits that bill.

          • Bob Stover // January 5, 2018 at 11:19 AM //

            It’s not about like or dislike. It’s about confidence or gnawing doubt. Most of the Steelers back-up QB’s over the years gave you confidence that the Steelers had a chance to win if injury befell Big Ben. I don’t have any confidence in Jones ability to win a playoff game. That’s not to say he couldn’t do it, it’s just to say that most of Steeler Nation would have no confidence in his ability to do so. The Steelers have enough weapons at receiver, RB and TE to win in spite of Jones, so long as the defense plays well and we don’t get into a shootout.

        • Kelechi Anozie // January 5, 2018 at 12:55 PM //

          I’m glad you noted this because sometimes this fanbase believes they know more about what the player can do, instead of the actual coaches whom evaluate him regularly, and the player himself.

          What exactly doesn’t give you enough confidence that Jones couldn’t get the job done if Ben was injured? Let’s review the game he had last year. against Tom Brady and the Patriots. He completed 29 of 47 passes for 281 yards with a TD and an interception. From what I remember, he gave the Steelers a serious chance to win; the defense unfortunately did not come through in that and allowed Gronkowski to score which likely ruined their chances of coming back.

          Much of the fanbase bases their lack of confidence of Landry Jones, based on his preseason performanced; but if you were to re-evaluate his performances in the regular season when he’s had the chance to start, he’s been quite good.

          In terms of Steelers backup QBs in the past giving this team chances to win, the only one that I could vouch for is Charlie Batch; aside from that, the rest have not been that great at all (Leftwich had his moment with the Chiefs back in 2012 and that’s about it).

          Regardless what this fanbase thinks about him, as long as he is confident within himself that he can play the system, if he’s well coached, and if his own teammates believe in him; that’s all that really matters. From the starts he’s had, he’s won the majority of them, exception to the Patriots game which he could have won.

          Much of your reasons for not having confidence in him is subjective, which you’re entitled to feel that way; however, if you look at his performances when he starts, he’s much better than you think.

          • Bob Stover // January 5, 2018 at 2:31 PM //

            We also lost Bell after about 1/2 of the first quarter in that game. So they were able to shut down Jones in the second half because the run game was gone.

          • Kelechi Anozie // January 5, 2018 at 5:57 PM //

            So what you’re saying but not actually saying it, is that Jones didn’t have much to work with from that point; especially considering that he didn’t have Martavis Bryant (suspended at the time), and Sammie Coates hands were a mess at that point. So this alone makes Jones performance that much more impressive.

  3. Marnie the // January 1, 2018 at 11:53 AM //

    The Seahawks were also home against the Saints which helped. Home teams win 64.7% of the time in the playoffs (according to five thirty eight). But no doubt Saints were expected to win and they had an early 2 score lead they could not hold. Because of that inequity, or fortune if you are a Seahawks fan, there was lots of chatter to re-seed teams based on record rather than division so the team win the better record got the home game. Of course that didn ?t happen in the NFL where division winners are rewarded.

    This is the first season since 2010 the Steelers get the extra week off. That is 4 playoff years in a row having to win 3 to get to the super bowl. It ?s been a while, 7 years, since this team has had the extra week. Given the turmoil off the field this season, though every year there is something it seems, I expect the team will be mentally ready for whomever they play. They went 13-3 with the 2017 drama. Let ?s just hope the game won ?t be decided by big Al in NYC.

    • Bob Stover // January 4, 2018 at 11:25 AM //

      Sorry Jim, but Oklahoma’s Pro Spread offense wasn’t really installed until 2015 and the hiring of Lincoln Riley as their offensive coordinator. Although they no longer called their offense the “Wishbone” after 2000, they were basically just throwing more from that formation and calling it a spread offense. The Pro Spread offense is just really the Wishbone (triple option), with more emphasis on throwing than running or keepers.

      • Jim Barbe // January 5, 2018 at 12:56 PM //

        Sorry Bob but he was not a wishbone QB as you stated, not even close. I lived in Oklahoma then and he threw it all over the place.

Comments are closed.