Today marked another victory for the Pittsburgh Steelers, the team's first with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who returned to action today after serving a four-game suspension following his second consecutive offseason with allegations of rape. The Steelers (4-1), steamrolled the Cleveland Browns (1-5), securing their first division win this season.
Roethlisberger finished with a gaudy stat line: 9.5 yards per attempt, a 59.3 completion percentage, three touchdowns, and a quarterback rating of 112.7. He benefited greatly from Cleveland's repeatedly stacking the box in a very successful attempt to contain Rashard Mendenhall (3.1 ypc) on the ground. However, Roethlisberger left plenty of plays on the field, misfiring on several open targets. His lone interception of the game came on a 3rd down attempt in the red zone, when he missed Mewelde Moore and hit rookie cornerback Joe Haden in the breadbasket.
Chalk it up to Roethlisberger shaking off the rust, if you must, although that's never seemed particularly valid to me. For all the amazing plays he's capable of making, Roethlisberger has always proven equally capable of some stinkers, as well. Steelers fans can only hope he's operating at a higher level when their team takes on a more dangerous opponent - like the Miami Dolphins next week.
The Steelers defense, of course, was excellent. They held Cleveland's rushing attack in check (3.4 ypc), snatched two interceptions (both off of tipped balls), and recorded five sacks. Lawrence Timmons, in particular, was phenomenal. In addition to two sacks and an interception, he continued his absurd tackling pace, bringing Cleveland players to the ground on 9 occasions. He now has 57 tackles in five games.
Pittsburgh's defensive front harassed Browns quarterback Colt McCoy all day - his jersey had more grass stains than a commercial for Tide - but the rookie kept his cool, for the most part. He finished with an eye-opening completion percentage of 69.7 and 8.5 yards per attempt. On the team's first few series, he seemed fidgety in the pocket, tucking the ball to run at the first whiff of pressure. In short, he played like he was still a Texas Longhorn. But as the game wore on, McCoy seemed more comfortable looking downfield for the open man.
Cleveland may have lost (again) to Pittsburgh, but it seems as though they've found a promising young quarterback. Barring injury, there's no doubt in my mind McCoy will be under center for the Browns when the Steelers head to Cleveland in Week 17.