Sep 7, 2014; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown (84) runs over Cleveland Browns punter Spencer Lanning (5) during the first half at Heinz Field. Brown was flagged on the play. Mandatory Credit: Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports
Special teams had a shaky afternoon, which they typically do for the Steelers. They actually looked fairly solid with coverage, and Sean Spence’s first NFL recorded tackle came from a big hit on special teams. The runbacks were a bit “meh,” and Dri Archer had a huge “what the hell were you thinking” moment when he took a kick from eight yards deep in his own endzone and tried to run it back. Perhaps he was trying to prove something in his first NFL game – after all Browns return man Travis Benjamin tried to do the same thing earlier and failed miserably. Antonio Brown is still returning punts for the Steelers and had a great return that went a little crazy at the end. Brown was out in the flat and only had the punter and one other cover guy to beat. Instead of juking punter, Brown chose to go head on and hurdle the punter. Instead of clearing over what should have been a low crouched Spencer Lanning, AB connected his right foot into the helmet of Lanning. Ouch. It ended up being a dumb move by Brown (no matter how awesome the memes have been following that incident), and he’s lucky he was not ejected from the game. A fine will be coming down (I’m sure). After repeated looks, Brown does make a downward kicking motion with his leg/foot that connects with Lannings helmet. Whether he was naturally making that motion, or trying to clear over a much more highly stance’d Lanning than what Brown was anticipating does not matter.
Sep 7, 2014; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley congratulates quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7) after a touchdown against the Cleveland Browns during the first half at Heinz Field. Mandatory Credit: Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports
When the no-huddle was in full swing, Ben was at his best and the offense was moving well. When Haley called the plays, the tempo slowed, the plays became the stale running up the middle for 2 yards type, and the offense stalled. The decision to run the ball up the middle twice after starting first and goal from the five is prototypical of Haley’s play calling. Sure, Bell got in on the second attempt (and only after having to bounce outside of a stuffed middle), but was hindered by a Beachum holding penalty. The Steelers would settle for 3 points. Haley also did a terrible job down the stretch in the second half. The Steelers went from 27 points and over 300 yards to hardly any until the final drive. When the team needed some good drives and eat up clock, they had to settle for punts. Ego or stupidity. It doesn’t matter. What does matter is that he’s getting in the way of the true success of this offense. He might draw them up well, but his in game play calling is outright crap.