Everyone breathe. Take a deep breath in, and then a deep breath out. The losing streak is over and disaster was avoided. Le’Veon Bell put on a one-man show as the Pittsburgh Steelers handled the now 0-11 Cleveland Browns on Sunday. The win ended a four-game losing streak for Pittsburgh, who moved back into a tie for first place in the AFC North with Baltimore. The offense controlled the ball and was helped out by an outstanding defensive effort.
Pittsburgh Steelers Week 11 Takeaways
Before we get into what went down Sunday, let us put things into perspective. This was against the Cleveland Browns. This wasn’t the season changing win that last week would have been against the Dallas Cowboys. This was taking care of business against a bad divisional opponent. This was also avoiding a loss to a winless team that is now mathematically eliminated from the playoffs. So while Sunday’s victory wasn’t exactly an accomplishment, man does it feel good to win again. Also, the Steelers did do a few encouraging things on Sunday.
Le’Veon Bell’s Big Day
First off, Le’Veon Bell came to play. Bell touched the ball 36 times, accumulating 201 yards and a touchdown. Bell was also the feature target on two of the Steelers longest drives of the year. His productivity in the offense, especially his involvement in the passing game, is encouraging. As we have seen, the Steelers offense needs to be balanced in order to succeed. The lack of reliable options beyond Antonio Brown in the passing game makes it vital that Bell be effective in the passing game as well as establish the running game.
Next, the defense finally showed up. Isaiah Crowell was ineffective early and essentially a non-factor. The Steelers front gave up only 33 yards total on the ground. This is especially impressive considering the loss of Cam Heyward for the year to injury. The inability to establish a run game forced rookie quarterback Cody Kessler to carry the offense. Unfortunately for Kessler, the Steelers defense was able to get to him all day. Pittsburgh recorded eight sacks on the day, including a strip-sack recovered in the end zone for a touchdown that essentially iced the game. In addition to this, rookie Artie Burns had a solid game, intercepting a deep pass from Kessler on Cleveland’s first possession.
Aside from what the team did well, a couple Steelers entered the record books. With his sack of Cody Kessler, James Harrison became the Steelers all-time sack leader. This is an incredible achievement for someone who went undrafted and is on his third stint with the Steelers. As a Harrison fan from day one, no one deserves this record more. To work as hard as he has at his craft and be as productive as he is at his age deserves to be recognized as much as possible.
Ben Roethlisberger Owns Cleveland on the Road
Also, in one of the stranger records you’ll hear this week, Ben Roethlisberger entered the record books. With the win, Roethlisberger moved into a tie with Derek Anderson for the most wins as a starting quarterback in FirstEnergy Stadium. The win marked ten in the stadium for Roethlisberger, who somehow ties for the lead despite only playing one game a year there. This is compared to the eight the Cleveland Browns play in their home stadium each year. Even if this record is pointless, at the very least it captures the pain and misfortune within the Cleveland Browns organization and that is enough to bring a smile to any Steelers fan.
Regardless, as I said before this was a win over a winless team and should be treated as such. The Steelers are a .500 team that needs to finish the season strong to make the playoffs. The challenge next week comes against another .500 team looking to get into the playoffs. The Steelers will play the Indianapolis Colts on Thanksgiving Night.