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Emotions in Motion
Article by McMillen & Wife

If there's a lesson to be learned from our two radically different games with the Brownies last year, it's this: Get 'em down early.

All football teams feed off of emotion to some extent, but in the case of the Cleveland Browns, it's their most potent weapon. As we all discovered one dreadful Sunday last November, the incredible emotional charge of being in a position to win late in a game electrifies the Browns, making them a much better team than they really are. The Browns beat the snot out of Cinci on Sunday, and they looked pretty darn good doing it. They were sky high during the 4th quarter... and they left the field literally walking on air.

This is in stark contrast to the Steelers, for whom emotion now seems like a college buddy that moved to Missouri a few years ago. Oh, it might drop us a post card now & then, and once in a while, it even phones us. But it rarely visits, and when it does, it doesn't stay long (speaking of which, Jeff Love, if you're out there, drop me a line).

How I long for the days of Bill Cowher racing down the sidelines after a big play, fists clenched, jaw jutting, his face twisted into a horrific yet strangely beautiful grimmace. "LET'S GO!!! LET'S GO!!!" The players would get drenched in a shower of Cowher's slobber, but they didn't care. They felt the power... shared the emotion. They knew they would win. And so did we.


Sadly, those days are over, at least for the moment. In the meantime, Steelers fans are left wondering whether our team will even be able to hang in with the least experienced club in the league. Historically, Browns/Steelers games have rarely been easy, regardless of the records or talent levels of the teams. If you let these Browns hang around in a game, they can beat you. What's more, they are coming into this game on an emotional high and actually BELIEVE they will beat the Steelers. But while I have more than a few doubts about this game, in the end, I think the Steelers will prevail.

Offensively, the key to this game is simple: protect Kent Graham. If Graham has time to throw, we'll win... rather easily, I suspect. Ah, but there's the rub... WILL Graham have time?

We live in the heart of Browns country and are exposed to intense coverage of the Brownies. Here's a fact: this team can no longer be viewed as an expansion club... they are a legitimate NFL team who will compete in every game. And the primary reason is their defensive line.

What about that line, which sports rising stars such as overall #1 draft pick DE Courtney Brown, a deadly combination of size, agility, and unbelievable speed, certain to be a perenial Pro Bowler in the coming years; DE Keith McKenzie, who sacked Aliki SMith 3 times last week; and former Steeler NT Orpheus Roye (hereafter referred to as "Orifice Boy"), a very underated player possessing excellent run-stopping ability with surprising quickness. Against the highly mobile Mark Brunell, they tallied 4 sacks. Against the young, elusive Aliki Smith, a whopping 7 sacks. Against the ostensibly lead-footed Kent Graham? Behind that line? Could be trouble, folks.

I'm gonna tell you something else right now... there's a very strong chance that we are NOT gonna be able to run the ball consistently against this team. I've said it before, I'll say it again: if we can't run, we can't win.

Or can we? The fact is, once you get beyond their front four, Cleveland's defense is pretty miserable. As impressive as their showing against Cinci was on paper, I suspect their defense as a whole was more accurately represented in the Jaguars game (Brunell ripped them for 301 yards through the air). Their linebacking corps is suspect at best, and their secondary is horrific.

Certainly, Cleveland's focus will be on stopping the run. Their goal will be to force Kent Graham to beat them by throwing down the field. The question is, will Graham and our young receivers rise to the challenge?

I think they will. Oh, we won't be whisked back to the days of Bradshaw to Swann, but Cleveland's secondary is a huge liability. Now, don't expect HUGE passing numbers, folks... we'll take our shots down the field, but it will be well-timed jabs, not a free-for-all aerial assault out there. If there's one play I would insert in a variety of packages this week, it's the shovel pass. Cleveland suffers from a glaring lack of discipline and awareness from their DBs & LBs, and the shovel pass (if not overused) could be a devastating weapon. And don't be surprised if we see a break-out day for Plex. I guarantee at least one long catch for Burress... maybe more.

Having said all this, the run will almost surely remain our focus, and if we enjoy ANY consistancy on the ground (and don't turn the ball over), Cleveland is doomed.

I realize this article is already too long, but I have to touch on Cleveand's offense. The most likely scenario is they'll try to spread us out with four-wide receiver sets, and when they run, it will be underneath those spreads rather than down our throats. Couch is quietly becoming a good QB, so don't be surprised if we see some movement up & down the field by Cleveland's pass-oriented offense, especially early. Once we settle in, however, I think we'll be able to successfully pass rush this team, and when Couch is pressured, he tends to panic and make mistakes.

Cleveland's anemic running game, led by Eric Rhett and Travis Prentice, shouldn't be much of a threat, although I won't be all that surprised if they manage to pick up a few good chunks of yardage on a draw here and there. They won't, however, be able to consistently muscle the ball against us. As long as our offense doesn't put us in to big of a hole, our defense can handle these guys.

Bottom line: Protect Graham, and don't make mistakes that allow these pukes to stay in the game. Get 'em down & keep 'em down.

Prediction: Pittsburgh 20, Cleveland 10.

By the way, if we somehow don't win this one, I expect we WILL see Graham hung in effigy. And Cowher, too. Send us your comments, people. Talk 'atcha after the game.

Tim McMillen,
Webmaster, McMillen & Wife.

Fan Smak & Analysis
The following articles are listed in the order they were received (with the most recent entries at the top). This isn't a "guestbook" format... I read and manually insert every message, so you may not see your submission show up immediately. Thanks a million for your comments, people!
Submitted by Bruce "Browns Fan" Hicks
Hey Tim! It's good to see your site is still up and running and that things seem to be going well with you. I won't bother with any smack, but I sincerely hope that you guys, finally, become our first home victim. All we need is some "Reverse Three Rivers" crap started.

There's very little of your game assessment with which I agree, except for your insight on a Steeler victory. I do think that if you guys get a couple of quick, early scores; it will be over. While healthwise I wish you, the wife and the toddlers well; I also hope that, football-wise, your Sunday is VERY disappointing. (But what the hell, we both survived last year, huh?)

Bruce Hicks

Submitted by Joseph O'Hanlon
Bet you wish you had Neil now don't you.

A rare response from Mac & Wife: Oh, yeah... we'd really be headed down the road to the Super Bowl with 'ole "Duck & Cover" under center, wouldn't we? He couldn't get it done in '94-'95 behind the BEST offensive line in the league, the BEST running game in the league, the BEST collective group of wide receivers in the league, and the BEST defense in the league, so it makes PERFECT sense that you'd deduce that he'd lead us to glory with THIS bunch backing him up. Yeah, whatever you say... you $#%*ing idiot.

Submitted by Steve Massey
How far down have we sunk to even be talking about losing a game to Cleveland? It makes me sick to see how the Steelers have been destroyed. I take a back seat to none in being a Steelers fan. I can't remember NOT being a steelers fan! That doesn't mean I have to blow sunshine up some guys trousers when he can't get the job done. I'm the one buying the mugs, jackets, etc...

That gives me the right to voice an opinion!

If we lose two in a row to the Browns, somebody's ass better be let go.

Submitted by Carroll L. Martin
Okay, guys, let me explain to you why I said what I said. Tom, you've been a Steeler fan since the late 1970s. Most of the fans I run into have been fans since around that same time period, when the Steelers were hot. You don't know what it was like in the late sixties to root for a team that was absolutely awful. My friends and I rooted for those Steelers even when they were 1-15. Today's fan seems to not be able to handle team adversity. Believe it or not, teams are not going to always be on top. You younger fans have to understand that. And it burns us older fans when you boo at the game or throw things at our team. My friends and I would never predict that the Browns are going to win, even when it's blatantly obvious that they will. That's not sugarcoating, that's team loyalty. I really do wonder how your attitude would change if the Steelers start winning. Be a fan always, in times of plenty and in times of famine. As always, GO STEELERS!!!

Carroll L. Martin

Submitted by Mike "Turbo Tongue" Terry
Well, well, well... it's Steeler brownie week and we have some interesting posts so far.

Hmmm... let me provide some insights. First of all ,Caroll, everyone is entitled to an opinion. However, I know that your remarks are incorrect. Like "Man, I really have never seen so many rats ready to jump ship." Where did this come from? You see, I have been on this site almost daily and definitely weekly for over 3 years, and to be honest, I think your comments stem from what Mr. Bragg and T mac have said about the state of this team. And YOU better believe that there are no Rats jumping ship here, pal. Or bandwagon jumpers or closet Browns fans for that matter. Just people a little frustrated and tired of giving this team time while watching good players leave to our opponents. ECT ECT...

This does NOT take away from, but rather is precisely BECAUSE of the pride and expectations we have of anyone wearing a PITTSBURGH STEELERS uniform ! Hell I don't want to get into a argument with fellow steeler fan, so just one last thing and I will leave it at that no replies ect... playing amateur football has very little to do with the daily business of pro ball in my opinion. Hell, I was the no-handed Gynecologist for the varsity cheerleaders in high school but that doesn't make me a M.D.

We are all on the same team here lets kick the shit outta the Browns Sunday the way it should be.

Mike Terry

P.S.--- please reveiw the Browns hater section and be knowin they have never received absolution from the man pictured there.

Submitted by Barry Fox
well we go to cleveland to play the browns who is on a one game win streak! i am a little worried and hyped also! kent graham hurting a finger in practice,buress is having back spasms and lee flowers and kevin henry are having injury problems! this is what the steelers have to do to win! FIRST THEY HAVE TO WIN THE BATTLE IN THE TRENCHES (OFFENSIVE LINE) ! THEY HAVE TO BLOCK WELL! THEN THE STEELERS SHOULD GO WITH SOME PLAY ACTION PASSES TO KEEP THE DEFENSIVE LINE GUESSING! IF THE PASSING GAME GETS ON A ROLL THEN YOU CAN GO WITH SOME RB DRAWS! THE DEFENSE HAS TO BLITZ TIM COUCH OR WE WILL BE IN TROUBLE! WE CAN WIN THIS GAME, YES WE CAN ,YES WE CAN AND DON'T FORGET TO PLAY GOOD SPECIAL TEAMS AND FORCE SOME TURNOVERS! IF WE DO ALL OF THAT THEN WE SHOULD WIN! GO STEELERS!

Submitted by cadox
Do you remember last year when Drew Carey shot off his big mouth about how the Browns were gonna kick the Steelers' butt? I've always wanted to ask Drew if he thinks that at 43-0 the Brown-Nosers proved that Cleveland still sucks.

Of course, the Steelers' front office needs to be willing to pay top dollar for top talent, or they're going to suck even worse than the brownies. The loss of Lake, Thigpen, etc., etc. to teams who are willing to pay more than the Steelers exemplifies my point. The front office is telling cowher that look, we don't want to give you much to work with, but could you give us a Superbowl-winning-bound team anyway? If the front office doesn't gett on the stick, it may be ANOTHER 42 year wait before we go to the big game. I'll be 81 years old by then!

Submitted by Tom Bragg
Caroll ....After reading your article on Tim McMillens website I must say I take exception to your comments about us so called Steeler fans . First off , I am not a rat , and I'm definitely not jumping ship . I happen to be a life long Steeler fan who has followed these same Steelers since the the late 1970's . Not only that , but I have one entire room of my home devoted to nothing but Steeler memorabilia . Make no mistake , I am not a fair weather fan . I simply to do not believe in sugarcoating the obvious like alot of fans do . This particular Steeler team has many problems , not just talent problems . It has an owner in Dan Rooney , who forwhatever reason will not open his wallet to bring in the quality players that this team desperately needs . Perfect examples of this are guys such as Rich Tylski , Chris Sullivan and Kimo Von Olehoffen . None of these three players were good enough to be starters for their former teams . Everyone mentioned were all backup players . Anyone with an ounce of football knowledge knows full well that you cannot replace veteran pro bowl players with average at best backup players . That formula will never work . When you try this the results are 7 and 9 and 6 and 10 seasons . Oh and by the way , I played varsity football for 2 years in high school .

Tom Bragg

Submitted by Carroll L. Martin
Some of you so-called Steeler's fans have me in utter disbelief. Do you honestly think because the Browns put a shellacking on the Bengals, the recognized worst team in the NFL, that they will do the same against the Steelers? You guys had better wake up. I wonder if some of you ever even played football. I still don't believe this team is as bad as you think. They had good scoring opportunities against the vaunted Baltimore defense and they were a slip or a dropped pass away. Now, I'm not foolish enough to say this is good, but look at the team now compared to last year. Last year, we wouldn't have even had those opportunities. I think Marvel Smith is really becoming an outstanding tackle and the rest of the front line is actually playing better (although I acknowledge that 30 yards rushing doesn't cut it). Just give them a little more time. Man, I really have never seen so many rats ready to jump ship. I wonder how many of you will be on the bandwagon if the Steelers start winning. Maybe some of you should start rooting for the Browns! As always: GO STEELERS!!!

Carroll L. Martin

Submitted by Christy Ward
steelers better not be napping this week 0 and 2 would suck

Submitted by Mike DeLancey
I have nooooooooo idea on what to make of this steeler team. If they quit on the running game this week as fast as they did last week, then I say we will be o-2. No matter how tough a defense is and we are within 10 pts, WE SHOULD NEVER GIVE UP ON THE RUNNING GAME. I blame this on Cowher.

Now I am going back to bed.

Submitted by Tom Bragg
I watched the Bengals vs Browns game on TV this past Sunday . After watching this game its very easy to see that this is a MUCH IMPROVED Browns team from the one the Steelers faced last year . Tim Couch is coming into his own as an NFL QB . However , the biggest change in the Browns this year is their defensive line . These guys with the addition of Courtney Brown are one bad ass defensive line . Don't believe me ? Just ask the Bengals Akili Smith or pro bowl running back Corey Dillon how good the Browns defensive line really is . To sum things up , with the current state of the Steelers offensive line the Steelers will not be able to run the ball against the Browns . Secondly , if the Steelers cant run , then all the pressure is dumped squarely in the lap of Kent Graham . That is way to much to ask of Graham at this point and time . The Browns will tee off on Graham all afternoon . This game will get ugly in a hurry .

Prediction - Browns 21 - Steelers 3 .

Tom Bragg

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