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Countdown: Steelers at Browns

Posted Nov 22, 2013

PITTSBURGH STEELERS VS. CLEVELAND BROWNS
Sunday, Nov. 24, 2013
FirstEnergy Stadium
1 p.m.; CBS

PLAYERS TO WATCH
CB JOE HADEN
He’s only 5-foot-11 and 190 pounds but he’s all cornerback, as the Bengals were reminded last Sunday. Haden recorded the first two-interception game of his career and returned the second 29 yards for his first career touchdown. The Browns list Haden as having been beaten for one touchdown this season (by the Packers’ Jordy Nelson on Oct. 20), and credit him with holding the Bengals’ A.J. Green to two catches for 7 yards last Sunday, the Chiefs’ Dwayne Bowe to one catch for 7 yards on Oct. 27, the Dolphins’ Mike Wallace to one catch for 15 yards on Sept. 8, and the Lions’ Calvin Johnson _ that’s right, Megatron _ to three catches for 25 yards on Oct. 13.  

WR JOSH GORDON
Gordon (6-3, 225) leads the Browns with 751 receiving yards in eight games. He’s fourth in the NFL with an average of 93.9 yards per game and second in the NFL with an average of 18.8 yards per catch. Gordon’s average of 17.3 yards per catch since 2012 leads the league in that span, and all nine of his career touchdowns have come from distance (20-plus yards). Gordon already has tied a Browns’ franchise record with four 100-yards receiving games this season.  

ABOUT THE BROWNS
OVERVIEW
The Browns’ most recent effort of the season was probably their worst, a 41-20 setback last Sunday in Cincinnati that saw Cleveland cede a 13-0 first quarter lead by allowing 31 points in the second quarter. The Browns opened 0-2 then won three straight games started by QB Brian Hoyer before losing Hoyer for the season to a knee injury on Oct. 3 against Buffalo. They’ve gone 1-4 since losing Hoyer. Jason Campbell has started the last three games at QB, the 20th starting quarterback employed by the Browns since 1999. Cleveland is 4-6 overall but 2-0 at home against the AFC North, having beaten Cincinnati, 17-6, on Sept. 29 and Baltimore, 24-18, on Nov. 3.

THE BROWNS’ OFFENSE
Cleveland is No. 25 in total offense (26th rushing, 18th passing). The Browns tried running with or throwing to four backs in their first two series against the Bengals (Willis McGahee, Chris Ogbonnaya, Fozzy Whittaker and Wildcat QB Armanti Edwards) but never got the ground game going (other than a 43-yard burst by Ogbonnaya). Cleveland has one rushing touchdown this season. TE Jordan Cameron has a team-leading 56 receptions on the season for a team-leading six touchdowns but just 11 catches and zero touchdowns in the three games started by Campbell at QB. LT Joe Thomas has played all 6,523 snaps since being drafted in 2007 and center Alex Mack has appeared in 4,598 snaps in succession since being drafted in 2009. The Browns lead the NFL with 11 fourth-down conversions on 23 attempts (47.8 percent).     

THE BROWNS’ DEFENSE
Cleveland is No. 5 in total defense (eighth rushing, fourth passing). The Browns are No. 28 in the NFL in opponents’ third-down conversions 42.6 percent. Cleveland is allowing an NFL-low 4.45 yards per play. The Browns have 15 players with at least one sack (tied for the NFL high) and 11 players with multiple sacks (No. 1 in the league). LB Barkevious Mingo leads the team in sacks with four and ranks second among NFL rookies in that department behind Chris Jones of New England (five). S T.J. Ward also has a pick-six.    

THE BROWNS’ SPECIAL TEAMS
It wasn’t a great afternoon in Cincinnati, where the Browns suffered a deflected punt that traveled 9 yards and set up a touchdown, a blocked punt that was returned for a touchdown, and allowed a 27-yard punt return that set up a field goal just prior to halftime. WR Travis Benjamin had a franchise-record 179 yards and a touchdown on punt returns against Buffalo but has since landed on IR. K Billy Cundiff is two touchbacks shy of surpassing Phil Dawson’s franchise record (30 in 2012). Cundiff is 15-for-17 on field goals, including 2-for-2 from 50-plus yards (51 and 51). Cundiff has made 11 straight since having a field-goal attempt blocked on Oct. 13 at Detroit.