I have no idea what to say about this game. It ended in a loss, as I figured it would, but that was about it for what I thought would happen. The rest was…weird. It’s like the teams went into the locker room at halftime and swapped uniforms. In my pregame article, I said that during the first three weeks of the NFL season, you will see some craziness. That I expected. But this sort of bipolar crazy? No one could have predicted that.
The first half was probably the worst half of Cleveland Browns football I have seen in a while. Think about how bad Browns football has been for the past six years and then think about what I just said. This isn’t hyperbole, like you’d get on a lot of other sports sites; this is honesty.
The first-half offense looked as horrible as the offense normally looks. But the defense was terrible. I mean holy-crap terrible. The Pittsburgh Steelers moved the ball like they were doing a walkthrough. QB Ben Roethlisberger set a career-high in yards in a half. (278) As the first half was winding down, I was hoping that the referees would just call the game there. But they didn’t.
And that’s when the “weird” started.
The Browns came out in the second half racing down the field and scoring. Then the defense stopped the Steelers. And then the two did it again. And then again. And then again. The team that lost the first half 27-3, was now winning the second half 24-0.
Two minutes remained and the Browns had the ball with a chance to win it!
Could they…? Would they….?
No. Of course not.
For the first time in the second half, the Browns looked like the Browns. Pittsburgh drove down the field easily, got into field goal position, and then won the game. And that is that.
If you’re expecting me to talk about a moral victory, you’re going to be disappointed. We’ve seen this time and time again, when the defense needs a stop at the end of the game, they break down. A lot of times it’s because they haven’t had a chance to stay off the field. But that was not the case this time.
This is just my postgame reaction, and without time to reflect on it, I don’t know what to make of what I just saw. The Browns were really bad for 15:45, and really good for 14:15. Not like they were the same team but with an improved result; it was really two different teams.
If we can get more of that second half Browns team, we will be in for a much better season than anyone ever imagined. If we get that first half team, my prediction of 4 wins may look like pie in the sky.
What do I expect? A mixture of the two, but more of the latter. However, it’s ridiculous to say for sure after one game. Especially this game.
What the heck happened at halftime to completely turn this team around? Did Head Coach Mike Pettine scream and curse? Did they put something in the Gatorade? Did owner Jimmy Haslam walk into the locker room and threaten to fire everyone? I don’t know.
Whatever it is, it makes the Browns more interesting than they have been in a really long time. At least from a curiosity standpoint.
That’s it for right now, but I’ll return with a more thorough analysis of this game.
As for now, your Browns are 0-1 with a game at home next week against the 0-1 New Orleans Saints. Pittsburgh plays on Thursday night against the Baltimore Ravens, who lost today to the Cincinnati Bengals 23-16.