What went right, wrong vs. Browns

* The Pittsburgh offense moved the ball down the field on the game's opening possession in big hunks. Antonio Brown took an inside screen pass 41 yards thanks in part to a downfield block by David DeCastro; a 23-yard screen to Le'Veon Bell was helped by downfield blocks from Maurkice Pouncey and Ramon Foster; and then Bell's 11-yard run to the Cleveland 4-yard line was aided by a nice downfield block by Brown.

  • Just as a penalty hurt the Steelers in their bid for an opening possession touchdown, it helped them on the Browns' bid for the same thing. An illegal shift penalty nullified a 10-yard gain on a second-and-9 from the Steelers 16-yard line. That led to Cleveland settling for a 39-yard field goal by Billy Cundiff that tied the game at 3-3.
  • On a third-and-6 from the Pittsburgh 44-yard line, Ben Roethlisberger dropped a perfect pass deep down the right sideline to Markus Wheaton, and the 40-yard play gave the Steelers a first down at the Cleveland 11-yard line. Because the play was along the sideline and might have been challenged by the Browns, Roethlisberger hustled the offense to the line of scrimmage and got a play off to negate the possibility of a challenge.
  • Two plays after Roethlisberger's interception, Jarvis Jones broke through for his first sack of the season, and the play served effectively to knock the Browns out of field goal range.
  • The Steelers extended their lead to 17-3 midway through the second quarter with a classic example of Ben Roethlisberger making something happen. Pressured by Billy Winn, Roethlisberger escaped the pocket to his right and threw a perfect pass in leading Antonio Brown away from cornerback Joe Haden for a 35-yard touchdown and a 17-3 lead.
  • It didn't take very long for the Steelers to capitalize on Antonio Brown's 36-yard punt return. Two plays after it, Le'Veon Bell weaved through what seemed to be all 11 players on the Browns defense – while losing a shoe in the process – for the 38-yard touchdown that upped the Steelers lead to 24-3.
  • As a situational player, William Gay isn't on the field as much as some other guys, but he certainly made his snaps count in the second half, particularly in the fourth quarter. With the game tied, 27-27, with 1:53 remaining, Gay made back-to-black plays that helped the Steelers defense get off the field without allowing any points for only the second time in the whole second half. On second down, Gay broke up a pass intended for Andrew Hawkins, and then on third down, he dumped Hawkins for a 5-yard loss on a quick screen to force the Browns to punt.
  • On first down in that series, Cam Heyward recorded his first sack of the season to put the Browns in a second-and-16 hole.
  • In his first game as an NFL starting receiver, Markus Wheaton made an impression as a guy who makes plays in critical situations. His 40-yard catch in the first quarter converted a third-and-6 and helped set up the touchdown that gave the Steelers a 10-3 lead, and then on the game's final possession, he caught an 11-yard pass on a second-and-8, and then on the next play, his 20-yard catch was what got the Steelers close enough for Shaun Suisham's 41-yard field goal.

* Red zone efficiency had a chance to shape the course of the game, and the Steelers didn't do themselves any favors by settling for a field goal on the opening possession after moving to a first-and-goal at the 4-yard line. A touchdown run by Le'Veon Bell was nullified by a holding penalty on Kelvin Beachum, and then on third-and-goal, Ben Roethlisberger was sacked. Shaun Suisham's 36-yard field goal made it 3-0.

  • The Steelers came in to the game planning to use a variety of defensive means to deal with tight end Jordan Cameron. What didn't work was what the Steelers used on the Browns first offensive possession. Cameron got a step on ILB Lawrence Timmons, and when there was so safety help over the top, QB Brian Hoyer was able to lay the ball up for a 47-yard completion that was the big play in the field goal drive that tied the game at 3-3.

The Pittsburgh Steelers faced off against the Cleveland Browns in their 2014 regular season opener at Heinz Field.

  • His reaction told the story. Ben Roethlisberger forced a pass to Le'Veon Bell on a second-and-10 from the Pittsburgh 34-yard line, and Browns linebacker Karlos Dansby made a diving interception early in the second quarter of a game the Steelers led, 10-3.
  • It was the second quarter of Steelers-Browns when a Bruce Lee movie broke out. While returning a punt 36 yards, Antonio Brown jumped into the air and appeared to use his leg as a de facto stiff arm on Cleveland punter Spencer Lanning. Brown was flagged for a 15-yard personal foul penalty.
  • As well as the first half went for the Steelers in all three phases, the second half opened with them playing badly in all three phases. The Browns took the second half kickoff and marched 80 yards in six plays for a touchdown to make it 27-10. On the ensuing kickoff, a penalty on Terence Garvin nullified a 38-yard kickoff return by Dri Archer. That Steelers offensive series was ruined by a couple of penalties, and then following Brad Wing's punt the Browns promptly drove 59 yards for another touchdown to cut the Pittsburgh lead to 27-17.
  • The Cleveland offense is operating without Ben Tate, without Jordan Cameron, with Andrew Hawkins banged up, and it cannot be stopped. The Steelers are rotating personnel all along the front seven, but in three second-half offensive possessions the Browns offense went touchdown, touchdown, field goal.
  • With 11:15 remaining in the game, the Browns had come back to tie, and it capped a stretch of 18 minutes, 45 seconds in which they scored three touchdowns and a field goal to erase a 27-3 halftime deficit.
  • The Steelers defense certainly did itself no favors in the second half, but the offense couldn't pick up the slack, even after Robert Golden's 25-yard pass to Antwon Blake on a fake punt. The Steelers were 0-for-6 on third downs in the second half, Ben Roethlisberger was sacked three times in the second half, and the team was penalized five times for 39 yards in the second half.
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