Browns vs. Steelers: Final Game Grades and Analysis for Cleveland

Andy McNamaraCorrespondent IIDecember 28, 2013

PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 30:  Alex Mack #55 of the Cleveland Browns lines up against Casey Hampton #98 of the Pittsburgh Steelers during their game at Heinz Field on December 30, 2012 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Karl Walter/Getty Images)
Karl Walter/Getty Images

End of game: The Cleveland Browns (4-12) limp to the end of another losing season as they fall to the Steelers (8-8) in Pittsburgh.

Cleveland never seemed to get going on either side of the ball as they finish the year without a victory in seven straight games.



Browns: 7

Steelers: 20

PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 29:  Craig Robertson #53 of the Cleveland Browns runs after making an interception against the Pittsburgh Steelers during the game on December 29, 2013 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty
Justin K. Aller/Getty Images


Final Analysis for Cleveland

Pass Offense: Jason Campbell could do nothing with two Pittsburgh turnovers and only got into the red zone once. There were a couple of nice passes to Jordan Cameron and Josh Gordon, but overall Campbell was inaccurate, flustered, and settled for check downs. Part of the blame certainly needs to go to the Browns receivers for not getting open.

Josh Cooper showed some potential as a slot receiver. He hauled in five passes for 34 yards and his efforts should be enough to earn him a look in training camp next season.

Josh Gordon’s quest for an eighth 100-yard receiving game fell short as he grabbed seven balls and totaled 82 yards.

Run Offense: Edwin Baker was the only consistent bright spot all afternoon for the Browns. Baker’s ability to find lanes, quick decision making and phenomenal footwork gives Cleveland’s braintrust plenty to think about this offseason. He rattled off 69 yards on 18 carries.

Pass Defense: Outside of the opening quarter interception by Craig Robertson, the Steelers decimated Cleveland on over the middle short passes that went for big gains and three receivers had over 20 yards. The Browns were only able to sack Roethlisberger once and that came in the first half by Billy Winn. Big Ben didn’t go deep often and when he did in the fourth quarter it resulted in a Tashaun Gipson INT.

Roethlisberger’s statistics overall were not great (179 yards and a 61.1 passer rating), but as usual he did enough to win.

Run Defense: Le’Veon Bell ran at will all day long as Cleveland’s run defense was once again non-existent. The rookie spun his way for a first half touchdown and was able to muscle out extra yards seemingly whenever he wanted. Bell finished with 90 yards and averaged 4.5 yards per carry.

Special Teams: A pretty bland day on special teams. Nothing notable on the return or coverage units.

Coaching: Head coach Rob Chudzinski went for it on fourth down three times and on each occasion came up short. Poor decision making or execution were the culprits on all the tries as coach Chudzinski’s aggressive approach were the right calls.

Following a late fourth quarter touchdown catch by Fozzy Whittaker the Browns failed to recover the onside kick.

The defense did not show up for coordinator Ray Horton today and have seemed mentally absent the past two weeks. 



First-Half Analysis for the Cleveland Browns

Pass Offense: Quarterback Jason Campbell looked flustered and overwhelmed for the majority of the first half. He turned the ball over after being stripped in the opening quarter and was generally inaccurate when he didn’t settle for checkdowns to Chris Ogbonnaya. Campbell only found Josh Gordon once and Jordan Cameron twice in the first half. Campbell’s numbers were atrocious as he threw for just 53 yards and averaged 4.1 yards per attempt.

Run Offense: Edwin Baker continues to impress as the primary back. Baker’s vision is tremendous and it showed as he hit the hole hard and ran for a total of 41 yards on nine carries. Baker galloped for a long of 20.

Pass Defense: The much maligned Craig Robertson finally stepped up in pass coverage by intercepting Ben Roethlisberger in the first quarter. However, the veteran quarterback did find success over the middle afterward.

Big Ben was his resilient self on the first-quarter touchdown drive where Buster Skrine misread the play, allowing Jerricho Cotchery to get open for the score. Skrine left late in the second quarter with a shoulder injury.

With Joe Haden out with an injury, rookie Leon McFadden got the start and looked pretty good sticking to his assignments. Overall, it was a disappointing effort by the defense as three Pittsburgh receivers have already hauled in over 20 yards through the air.

Run Defense: The combination of Cleveland’s awful run defense with the red-hot Pittsburgh running back Le’Veon Bell led to Steelers dominance. Bell rumbled at will, averaging 4.6 yards per carry for 55 yards. The rookie also delivered an incredible spin move on Billy Winn in the red zone and went in for a touchdown.

Special Teams: The Browns caught a break on a kickoff that went out-of-bounds after Pittsburgh’s second score that put them on the 40-yard line. They couldn’t turn it into points, though, and there was nothing notable on any of the return or coverage units.

Coaching: Head coach Rob Chudzinski went for it on 4th-and-4 in Pittsburgh territory during the first quarter. The pass was thrown behind receiver Josh Cooper, who bobbled the ball and couldn’t hold on.

It was good to see offensive coordinator Norv Turner stick with the ground attack, especially since the passing game was a non-factor in the first half. Ray Horton’s defense looks like they’ve mentally checked out as it failed miserably to stop both the run and the pass.


Andy McNamara is an international sports broadcaster and journalist.

Follow Andy on Twitter @AndyMc81.