A few salient facts from last night’s Steelers game, where the defending Super Bowl champions lost 13-6 to the previously 1-11 Cleveland Browns:
It was the first time since 1997 a team ten games under .500 had beaten a defending champion. The last time it happened, a young Peyton Manning was the winning quarterback. Brady Quinn completed 6 of 19 passes for 90 yards last night. He ain’t no Peyton Manning.
The Steelers offense scored six points and allowed eight sacks. More yards were lost on sacks than were gained rushing.
The temperature at kickoff was 15 degrees, with winds of 25-48 mph. (Source: NFL Game Book.) Perfect weather for running the ball 40 times. Bruce Ariens called 21 rushes and 41 passes (including the sacks and one run by Ben Roethlisberger that was intended to be a pass).
Cleveland rushed for 171 yards, the highest total allowed by a Pittsburgh defense against Cleveland since 1972. Pittsburgh’s total offense was 216 yards.
It was clear from the outset the Steelers thought they could just throw their jerseys on the field and win. “We’re Super Bowl champions! Cleveland is 1-11! We’ve beaten them twelve times in a row!” No one appeared to remember the Steelers had lost four games in a row, bowing to such juggernauts as Kansas City and Oakland.
The offensive line didn’t block. In addition to the eight sacks, ball carriers were routinely contacted at or behind the line of scrimmage.
The defense didn’t tackle. Josh Cribbs ran through them like he was wearing a Teflon uniform.
The special teams were at least consistent: they still stink. A punt return of over forty yards was allowed. The Steelers made no returns worth mentioning. The only two bright spots were Jeff Reed’s two field goals and the team finally figuring out how to prevent long kickoff returns: If you don’t score, you never have to kickoff.
A truly disgraceful display. Thank God for hockey.