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Steelers Blank Browns, 22-0!
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Week 8 Post-Game Show
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Steelers vs Browns (22-0)
Game Recap
Complete Stats
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Week 8 1 2 3 4 F
Steelers 3 10 3 6 22
Browns 0 0 0 0 0

Key Stats & Facts
• 104 total net yards for Cleveland: Wow... Cleveland's entire offensive output for the day amounted to 1 less yard than Bettis gained. Cleveland was also 1 of 12 of 3rd down, trailed 20:20 to 39:35 in time of possession, and only broke midfield once (courtesy of a personal foul on a punt return). Talk about humiliation.
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• Jerome Bettis 33 carries, 105 yards, 1 TD: God bless 'da Bus, who gained over 100 yards for the 3rd straight week. Considering he single-handedly equalled the yardage gained by our "aerial assault" for the day (translation: no help from the passing game), pretty darn impressive.
• Stewart 7 of 13, 74 yards, 0 TD, 0 Int: Extremely modest numbers no matter how you slice it, but Kordell ran the offense with reasonable efficiency and made several key plays in his inimitable style. Most importantly, he didn't make mistakes and stayed out of the way enough for the Bus to get it done. Say what you want, but so far this season, when Kordell sees significant action, we win.
• Graham 3 of 12, 25.0%, 46 yards: The numbers don't tell the whole story on how inept Graham was. In addition to lot's of high, off-target passes, Graham made numerous bad decisions, including a near pick in the shadow of our own goal post that would've been a sure 6 for Cinci had the defender held on. Welcome back, Kordell.
• Kris Brown 5 for 5 on FG attempts: True, there weren't any tough kicks (only 1 over 35 yards), but 5 FGs in a game (a career high for Brown) certainly deserves mention.
• Hank Poteat 4 punt returns, 18.5 avg, 54 yard longest: Poteat's 54-yard punt return to the Cleveland 12 set up our lone TD of the day, and his overall effort clearly wowed Cowher, who was smiling broadly on the sideline after several Poteat returns.

The Next Step: Respect
Steelers Shut Out Brownies, 22-0

Four straight wins. Back to back shutouts. Are the Steelers a real contender?
When was the last time our Steelers pitched back-to-back shutouts? 1976? No matter how you slice it, it really is a pretty amazing feat in this day and age. But in spite of Pittsburgh's recent defensive success, nobody seems to be taking them seriously... not yet.

Now as a fan, you've gotta be pretty darn happy with a defense that forces two consecutive shutouts and has allowed a total of 3 points in the last three games. Best of all, the cloud of doom that's been hanging over Three Rivers for the last two years has finally lifted. Even Kordell Stewart seems to have exercised his home-game demons. But let's be honest... these shutouts could easily have an asterisk by them in the record books with a disclaimer that reads as follows:

*Each shutout occurred against an opponent that would've been hard-pressed to score against the intramural team from St' Pia Zadorra's School for Wayward Girls (yeah, I recycled this line from a previous article, but it still cracks me up).

Having said all that, I still can't help but be excited about what the Steelers have accomplished over the last month. They are playing with confidence... as a TEAM. But if the Steelers are indeed worthy of league-wide respect, then it will be determined in Baltimore next Sunday. The Ravens game actually has... dare I say it... playoff implications. I'm getting goosebumps just thinking about it, my bruthas! But we'll cover that topic on Wednesday.

Back to the Brownies. 105 TOTAL yards? 63 yards passing? From an NFL franchise? Absolutely pathetic... which is why it's absolutely beautiful. Aside from watching our Steelers' stunning turnaround, the most enjoyable thing for me this season has been watching the metamorphisis of all of these arrogant, ignorant Browns fans that I'm surrounded by here in Ohio. They've steadily transformed from being overconfident, trash-talking, in-your-face know-it-alls at 2-1, back into the whining, snivling 2-6 excuse makers we're accustomed to. Excuses? Oh, I've heard 'em all over the last few days...

"Well, if Tim Couch had played, we woulda' kicked your asses!"

Uh, yeah... I saw how marvelously effective Tim Couch was in that 44-10 drubbing Cleveland took at the hands of the Broncos last week. Sure thing, guys.

"Oh, yeah? Well, if we woulda' started Spergon Wynn instead of Doug Pederson, things would've been different."

Sure thing... and a monkey might fly out of my butt. What in the hell is a "Spergon," anyway?

"Well, if JaJuan Dawson, Ty Detmer, and Errict Rhett weren't out, we woulda' shown you!"

Yeah, those sure are some "quality" players to have out of your lineup, ladies. These three "saviors" wouldn't even be able to make the team in Pittsburgh.

"Well, coach Palmer sucks."

For once we agree!

Believe me, I could go on with the litany of excuses, but I won't. Suffice it to say it's been and fun-filled week for us here in Browns country.

Of course, we realize that not all is rosie with our Steelers. As well as our defense has played, our offense has been, shall we say, "ineffective" (caught in a less generous moment, I might even say "non-existant"). The Bus continues to get his yards one way or another, but unless the Steelers develop a passing game, they're going to be an also-ran... Jerome can't do it by himself. It's time a receiver other than Hines Ward made a big play (or simply managed to hang onto a catchable ball, for that matter). I'm getting to the point where even the mention of Troy Edwards or Plaxico Burress disgusts me, particularly Edwards... at least I've seen Burress make several nice blocks downfield. But I digress...

Lastly, I hope we've finally seen the end of the Kordell/Graham controversy. Stewart hasn't exactly looked like Bradshaw in his prime out there, but he's been head and shoulders above Graham and brings a lot more to the table. Graham is simply too immobile, and there seems to be a sense that his starting role has only been a temporary measure, even in his own mind. More importantly, I think the team is finally rallying around Stewart. Kordell seems to have won back the confidence of his teammates, and just as importantly, himself. Will it last? I dunno... but for the moment, the Steelers once again belong to Kordell Stewart. Welcome back, Kordell.

Next up: the Baltimore Ratbirds. Let the revenge tour continue...

Tim McMillen
Webmaster, McMillen and 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 Hicks
Hey Tim! Congratulations on your "no contest" victory over us on Sunday. Oy, is this going to be a long second year, especially if we let Cincy bounce into our stadium for a win. Oh well, I guess we could use another #1 draft pick.

Anyway, if your team won all the time, it would be easy to be a fan; so I guess I'm one hell of a fan. Enjoy the rest of your season, Tim. I gotta go out and shop for a Pederson jersey.

Bruce Hicks

Submitted by Keith "KT" Thomas
The Steelers concluded their second consecutive shut out the season by blanking the Cleveland Clowns in their final appearance at Three Rivers Stadium.

While I generally like what I see, the offense is an area of concern.

While I have been as strong a proponent of Jerome Bettis that you'll find anywhere, the fact is that this offense needs to learn to do more than to feed the ball to the Bus. Bettis himself said as much in his post game comments.

Indeed, I think the decline of Bettis' rushing averages in the last two weeks is directly related to our inability to pass, and our inability to score touchdowns. (OK, the loss of Witman and the instability on the offensive line doesn't help. Still, I think Fu and that Krieder guy did OK.)

Right now, teams don't have any reason to fear our passing game, which is looking as bad as it did in preseason. This was not the case during weeks 2-4, where our passing was certainly economic, but nonetheless efficient.

I don't know what the problem is. Certainly Graham was awful these past two weeks, and deserved to be pulled. Likewise, the receivers are not helping things with their drops. These guys need to understand they are paid to catch the ball. At this point the looks like it is the execution side of the passing game that is failing, but it is certainly possible that Gilbride needs to simplify things.

I've been quiet on the Kordell/Graham debate that has ragged since the Jacksonville game. I thought Kordell looked sharper, and more poised (dare we say, confident?) against Jacksonville and the Jets than we've seen him in a long time. Nonetheless, the game plans we executed during those weeks were extremely conservative. For all of his poise, Kordell failed to show he was a downfield passing threat. To regain the starting job on a full-time basis, he needs to do that.

After a shaky start on Sunday, Kordell looked better, looking pretty good and making a few important third down conversions in the 3rd and 4th quarters. He deserves to start next week against the Ravens, because, as Cowher says, he gives us the best chance to win. (A strong game from Kordell is needed, since the Ravens have been very tough on Bettis in recent years.) (I liked the way the Steelers protected the ball. Cleveland players seemed to be going for the ball on every tackle, but no one coughed it up.)

I don't want to sound too down after a four game winning streak has been established, but the Tampa, and yes, Baltimore have shown that you don't win on defense and field goals alone. And speaking of defense…

This Steeler defense might not get the ink that Washington's, Baltimore's, Miami's, or New Orleans' does, but let me tell you something, this is defense is dam good.

How good? Browns only cross the 50 once. Five quarterbacks pulled from five games. Two shutouts in a row. 3 games without a TD. 4 games without a meaningful TD. Eddie George, Fred Taylor, Curtis Martin, and now the NFL's single game rushing record holder Corey Dillon, All Stuffed! The defense has averaged 2.2 interceptions and netted 3 fumble recoveries over the last five games..

What I acutally like them most is that our defensive success has largely been a team effort. While the line backers remain the strength, the defensive line is playing exponentially higher level than I thought it would, and the secondary has come along nicely with Brett Alexander in there.

This isn't to say that there weren't great individual performances against the Clowns. Chad Scott's INT was a pro bowl play. Jason Gildon was a force again, contributing to the teams first pick. Earl Homles was all over the field again. And Levon Kirkland? All he did was lead the team with 7 tackles and haul in an interception.

Needless to say, I LIKE this defense.

On Special teams Hank Poeat is becoming a dangerous punt returner, our punt coverage remains good, our kickers turned in good performances, but our kickoff coverage needs to improve.

Eight weeks into the season the see the Steelers at 4-3, having dug themselves nicely out of a 0-3 hole. (Most of the Pittsburgh media had us penciled to be 2-7, but never mind that….) Having gotten above .500 the Steelers are now in position to make a run at something better, something more significant. To take a serious shot at this the Steelers need to win at least one of their next two games.

Clearly, a lot has come together for the Steelers get themselves this opportunity. Equally clear is that what comes from this opportunity will be determined by their ability to improve on offense.


Submitted by dep1jwv
Who Shut the DAWGS Out???!!!

Submitted by Tom Parrotte
Isn't it great to wake up in the morning knowing that the last image of TRS that those mangy, fleabag "Dawgs" (phonetics must be big in Cleveland) will have is punting down 22 late in the fourth. It was excellent that we clobbered the Browns, it was even better that they were shut out, best of all, they offered complete surrender!! What a sweet victory. Kordell has the fans' support, things are coming around nicely!!

Revenge tour 2000 continues next week in Baltimore. I would venture to guess that Bus will have more than 8 yards. By the way, I am thrilled that the team has broken policy and negotiated with Bettis in-season. Tony Banks, Trish Dilfer, doesn't matter....this team is on a roll.

Submitted by Bryan C.
Pretty unipressive on offense, but, a win is a win and I will take it anytime over the Brownies. Back to back shutouts for out defense, Very nice. I'm a big fan for defense. I guess it all goes back to the "Steel Curtain" days. Two tough games in the next two weeks. Hopefully we can get Kordell to get the starts and he can get into a rythem and make something happen! We'll see.

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MVP Award
Who deserves the game ball for the win over the Brownies?
Entire Defense
 ( 79%)
Jerome Bettis
 ( 7%)
Kordell Stewart
 ( 5%)
Jason Gildon
 ( 5%)
Levon Kirkland
 ( 2%)
Tim Lewis
 ( 1%)
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