ReFo: Browns @ Steelers, Week 1
Although Pittsburgh continued its dominance over the Browns 30-27, this game was definitely a tale of two halves. The Steelers came out strong early and appeared to have put the game away by halftime with a 27-3 lead, including Ben Roethlisberger setting a new career high with 278 passing yards in the first half.
The Browns offense looked out of sorts, and some fans were probably calling for you-know-who at halftime. But new Browns offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan had Cleveland go no-huddle for most of the second half, which seemed to catch the Steelers off-guard. While the Browns, led by Brian Hoyer, managed to tie it, it was Big Ben who was able to lead his team to the game-winning field goal as time expired.
Cleveland Browns – Three Performances of Note
Terrance West, RB: +1.4
Breakdown: Cleveland’s third-round pick wasn’t expected to see a ton of action, but with Ben Tate injuring himself (again), it was West’s time to shine, with an even 100 yards rushing on just 16 carries.
Signature Stat: The Towson State product forced six missed tackles, and averaged 4.1 Yards After Contact. He also finished with an Elusive Rating of 154.7.
Brian Hoyer, QB: -0.8
Breakdown: Hoyer acquitted himself reasonably well given all the talk this offseason, completing 19-of-31 passes for 230 yards and a touchdown, without turning the ball over. He was sharp in the second half when he seemed much more comfortable in the hurry-up offense, leading the Browns to 24 unanswered points before the Steelers pulled it out. As you might expect from someone in just his fifth career start, he struggled greatly under pressure. He was just 1-of-6 passing on eight dropbacks under pressure, and was sacked three total times.
Signature Stat: He completed only 3-of-8 passes over the middle from zero to nine yards downfield.
Karlos Dansby, LB: +1.5
Breakdown: Lured from Arizona with a big free agent contract, Dansby showed why he got so much green. He finished with six tackles, four assists, three stops, and an interception for good measure.
Signature Stat: In the second quarter with 14:38 remaining, Dansby made a terrific break on a short out route by the RB and cut in front of him for a diving interception.
Pittsburgh Steelers – Three Performances of Note
Ryan Shazier, LB: +1.5
Breakdown: The first-round pick flashed his speed in run defense and didn’t look lost when dropping into coverage. Overall, a very solid start for the rookie and showed the potential of being able to dominate in the running game.
Signature Play: In the fourth quarter with 12:19 remaining, Shazier slashed through the line and tackled the RB for a four-yard loss while the right guard could only watch.
Le’Veon Bell, RB: +4.7
Breakdown: Most of the talk was around Bell’s offseason transgressions, but he put that aside with a terrific performance in both the running and passing game. He had 88 yards receiving on six catches, and complemented that with 109 yards rushing, which included 84 Yards After Contact. Besides his obvious elusiveness, he showed good vision at the line of scrimmage, sometimes finding holes that weren’t even there.
Signature Stat: He forced an astounding 11 combined missed tackles against Cleveland and his Elusive Rating surpassed even that of West (163.0).
Marcus Gilbert, RT: -1.8
Breakdown: After a very uneven performance last year, the Steelers were hoping for more consistency from Gilbert in 2014. Unfortunately, he got off on the wrong foot in the opener, allowing two sacks and a hurry, as well as being flagged for holding.
Signature Play: With 10:40 remaining in the fourth quarter, DE Paul Kruger took Gilbert straight back into Roethlisberger for the sack, forcing a field goal.
Despite Roethlisberger’s usual ad-libbing that led to some terrific plays, Le’Veon Bell gets our game ball for his electric performance.
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