The Steelers kept their very slim playoff hopes alive Sunday at Heinz Field by beating the Browns 20-7.
Le'Veon Bell led an excellent Steelers ground attack that piled up 123 yards on the ground while Antonio Brown fell just two receptions shy of Hines Ward's single-season franchise receiving record. Since the Dolphins and Ravens lost, Pittsburgh still needs a Kansas City victory to advance to the postseason.
|Pittsburgh Steelers Game Grades|
|Positional Unit||1st Half Grade||Final Grade|
|vs. Browns, Week 17|
Final Analysis for the Pittsburgh Steelers
Pass Offense: It wasn’t the greatest day for the Steelers passing offense, but in a game they needed to win, they got enough. Ben Roethlisberger threw for 179 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions on the day
Roethlisberger hit on 19 of his 31 throws and just didn’t look very comfortable in this one. He made two really poor decisions on the interceptions and missed a few open guys. But at the end of the day, he did well enough to secure a win.
Run Offense: The Steelers have to be ecstatic with how they’ve run the football over the last two weeks. Behind Bell, the Steelers punished the Browns front seven to the tune of 123 yards on the ground.
Bell led the way for Pittsburgh with 90 yards and passed Franco Harris’ rookie record for total yards from scrimmage. Even if the Steelers don’t make the playoffs, they have to be excited about this young man.
Run Defense: A banged-up Steelers front seven allowed only 79 yards to the Browns in Sunday’s regular season finale.
Getting behind early didn’t help the Browns' cause as they more or less abandoned the run in the second half. Edwin Baker led the way for Cleveland with 69 yards on the ground as the Browns averaged just four yards per carry.
Pass Defense: In a pass-heavy game for the trailing Browns, quarterback Jason Campbell never got comfortable enough to make any big plays and the Steelers secondary prevailed.
Campbell and the Browns passing attack aired it out for 240 yards, but the Steelers forced two turnovers. Pittsburgh was able to apply pressure to the Browns all afternoon and did a relatively good job of covering Josh Gordon (seven receptions for 82 yards) and Jordan Cameron (five receptions for 69 yards).
Special Teams: There wasn’t a whole lot to talk about in the Steelers special teams unit. Shaun Suisham continued his great season Sunday, nailing two field goals. The coverage units did their job all afternoon.
Coaching: What an excellent job by the Steelers coaching staff not just in this win, but over the last 12 weeks of the season. Pittsburgh, who started the year at a dismal 0-4, finished the year at 8-4, clinging to playoff life. The slow start was certainly troubling, but give credit where credit is due. This coaching staff put it together. Hopefully it’s not too little, too late.
First-Half Analysis for the Pittsburgh Steelers
Pass Offense: In a game where the Steelers are clinging to their playoff lives, they are playing like a team that wants to see the postseason. Ben Roethlisberger ended the first half completing 11 of his 17 passes for 116 yards and a touchdown.
Roethlisberger hasn’t been great today. He missed a few open receivers and threw an ugly interception in the first quarter. But so far, it’s been enough to keep a banged-up Browns secondary at bay. Antonio Brown continues to be stellar, leading the receiving corps with 36 yards while Jerricho Cotchery has found the end zone again.
Run Offense: It’s games like this that make Steelers fans excited for the future of their team with Bell at running back. Bell has stormed through the Browns defense and continues to stay hot. He's rushed 12 times for 55 yards and a touchdown in the first half.
As a team, Pittsburgh has chipped away for 75 first-half yards. The line is getting a good push up front and Bell has been phenomenal after first contact. Expect a heavy dose of Bell-Dwyer-Jones in the second half.
Run Defense: Despite the lack of offense for the Browns early in this game, they’ve actually run the ball pretty well. It would look even better for Cleveland had they not had two good runs called back on holding calls.
Edwin Baker has been the leader, rushing the ball nine times for 41 yards. As a team, the Browns have managed 51 yards on the ground. Those numbers should drop given the Steelers lead, but Pittsburgh has to be ready for draws and screen plays.
Pass Defense: What an excellent start for the Steelers secondary in this one. Last time these two met, Josh Gordon finished the game with 237 receiving yards. In the first half of round two, he's totaled 11.
Pittsburgh has held the Browns to a pedestrian 53 passing yards in the half with Gordon and Jordan Cameron combining for only three catches. The pass rush has also been there as Brett Keisel forced an early Jason Campbell fumble. It's been an excellent start, but they need to keep it up.
Special Teams: The Steelers have had very solid special teams coverage on kicks and punts, but so have the Browns. Pittsburgh hasn’t had much to return. The only issue so far was that the Steelers kicked the ball out of bounds and gave Cleveland the ball at the 40.
Coaching: The Pittsburgh game plan has been excellent so far. Defensively, the Browns haven’t moved the well at all and the Steelers are creating turnovers. Offensively, the running game has finally come around. One thing I'd like to see more of, though, is the no-huddle. That's when the Steelers are at their best.
Follow on Twitter: @dsnyder34