ReFo: Steelers @ Browns, Week 6
Coming into this game Ben Roethlisberger had lost just once against the Browns in his pro career. When the Steelers moved the ball well and scored first there was no sign it would be any different, but it proved to be his second career defeat to the franchise, and wasn’t a close run thing.
The Browns were by far the better side, and could have been even further ahead on the scoreboard, but for some careless fumbles on offense and a late score surrendered to make things look a little closer.
Let’s take a look at who stood out for both sides.
Pittsburgh Steelers – Performances of Note
Antonio Brown, WR: +2.1
Breakdown: The Steelers were in something of a funk on offense, but Antonio Brown was his consistent best, catching seven of the 10 passes thrown his way for 118 yards including a couple of very nice adjustments.
Signature Play: Q2, 2:22. On a simple hitch route Brown turned to find the pass well behind him, but adjusted well, making a diving catch for a first down.
Cortez Allen, CB: -3.7
Breakdown: With Ike Taylor out injured the Steelers were going to be asking a lot of their other secondary players and it was they who were most absent in this performance. It wasn’t just being beaten that was the problem, it was switching off with mental mistakes as well.
Signature Stat: Was only thrown at six times, but allowed 118 receiving yards and a score thanks to some breakdowns in the Pittsburgh secondary.
Troy Polamalu, S: -0.8
Breakdown: As good as he has been throughout his career there has always been an element of gambling to Polamalu’s game. Sometimes it pays off big, but others it can cause huge problems. We saw both the good and bad from him in this game.
Signature Stat: Made eight stops from nine tackles in this game, twice as many as anybody else on the team.
Cleveland Browns – Performances of Note
Brian Hoyer, QB: +4.3
Breakdown: I was a Hoyer skeptic before this game, but this now marks his second good game running and by some margin the best-graded game of his career. He also made a few big-time throws down the field and into tight coverage.
Signature Stat: Was 5-of-6 on passes traveling at least 20 yards in the air for 179 yards and a touchdown.
Buster Skrine, CB: +3.5
Breakdown: Often the problem with moving Joe Haden around to cover a particular offensive weapon has been how isolated and exposed it has left Buster Skrine on the other side. Not in this game though, as Skrine more than got the better of Steelers WR Markus Wheaton. Skrine allowed just four catches for 47 yards (and a score) on 11 targets.
Signature Stat: Though Skrine surrendered a touchdown, he also picked a pass off and broke three more up. He surrendered just 4.3 yards per target.
Isiah Crowell, HB: -1.7
Breakdown: Though he rushed for 77 yards on just 11 carries Crowell’s day was blighted by fumbles and poor ball security. He looked a dangerous player with the ball in his hands, but would be tough to trust in key situations on this evidence.
Signature Play: Q2, 5:46. Twice in this game Crowell dropped a simple pitch, fumbling the ball and killing the play before it got going. On this occasion he showed a little of his ability by collecting it and getting back to the line of scrimmage
PFF Game Ball
For once there is an easy winner of this award. Brian Hoyer not only orchestrated a rare Cleveland win against the Steelers but also had his best game as a pro in the process.
Follow Sam on Twitter: @PFF_Sam