Tim Benz: ‘Grievance broadcast’ after Steelers suffer humiliating playoff loss to Cleveland

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About an hour ago

It was just the latest in a long list of games the Steelers couldn’t lose, which they inevitably lost.

In Washington and the Cincinnati Bengals this year. At the New York Jets last year. To the Oakland Raiders and Denver Broncos in 2018. To Ryan Mallett and the Baltimore Ravens in 2015.

Tim Tebow in the playoffs. Blake Bortles in the playoffs. The San Diego Chargers in the 1994 AFC Championship game.

You know the list.

Now a coronavirus-afflicted Cleveland Browns team with a patchwork depth chart and a skeleton version of their coaching staff have just arrived in Pittsburgh and blasted the Steelers 48-37 in the playoffs.

It was the most humiliating playoff loss the team has ever suffered. And given some of those examples that I just listed, that says something.

Here are the highlights of our last “Grievance Broadcast” for 2020-2021. And this is just a sample of what is worth mentioning.


The first trimester: It had to be the most pathetic 15 minutes of football in franchise history.

In arguably the most comical start to any playoff game in NFL history, the Steelers fell behind the Browns 14-0 in the first six minutes of competition.

It’s even worse than the Steelers’ 14-0 deficit against Jacksonville in the opening 10 minutes of the 2017 playoffs.

Which I believe is the worst playoff start for a team in NFL history.

The first shot of the game went over Ben Roethlisberger’s head and was picked up by Cleveland in the end zone.

Way to jump on the ball, Ben.

Then Roethlisberger threw an interception on the next drive, which ultimately led to that ridiculously easy touchdown catch from Baker Mayfield to Jarvis Landry.

And it was more or less the ball game. But the Browns still managed to score two more touchdowns even before the end of the first quarter.

Oh, and the second quarter picked up where the team left off. Most of the false offensive lines started at the same time on the first snap attempt.


The last workout of the second trimester: The Steelers finally showed some life with a 13-game second quarter touchdown. He reduced the deficit to 28-7.

Perhaps they could enter at halftime “only” 21 points?

Nope. Defense wouldn’t let the momentum last very long.

As soon as the Browns got the kickoff that followed with 1:38 left in the half, they marched nine plays and 64 yards in just one minute and 10 seconds, with the defense showing no resistance. Austin Hooper caught a touchdown to reduce the lead to 28 points.

Everyone will be talking after this game about the severity of the Steelers offense. Don’t kid yourself. The defense was quite the same kind of gong show as the attack.

Cleveland finished with 390 total yards and an average of six yards per snap.

Coordinator Keith Butler’s players were slow and lethargic. The tackle was appalling. The execution and planning of the game was pitiful. It was a horrible performance.


Cleveland’s first practice of the fourth quarter: The Steelers had shot less than 12 points at the start of the quarter.

After a punt (we’ll get to that later), the Browns began practice on their own 20-yard line.

Cleveland had passed the ball through the Steelers throat (we’ll get to that later too). Inexplicably, however, Cleveland threw twice. He put up a third and a 2 of 22 for the Browns.

For some reason, TJ Watt – and his 15 sacks at the helm of the NFL – was rolled out on cover. Over time, Mayfield completed a short pass to Landry which he took for 17 yards and a first down.

Three shots later, running back Nick Chubb was running 40 yards through the Steelers defense for a nail-in-the-coffin touchdown, 42-23.

Again, stupid scheme. Worse execution.


Run the game flaw: As we warned during the week here at “Breakfast With Benz,” the Browns can run the ball and the Steelers can’t.

Boy, was it ever on display Sunday night.

The Steelers finished with just 52 yards on 16 carries, averaging just 3.3 yards per carry. Meanwhile, the Browns swallowed 127 yards on 31 carries, en route to an average of 4.1.

Chubb led the way with 76 yards. Not to mention his reception from 69 yards. He’s going to become an all-time Steelers killer in his career. Kareem Hunt was good, totaling 48 yards on eight carries and two touchdowns.


Where was Watt? Missing Minkah: Speaking of Watt, he was a no show.

The Defensive Player of the Year made three tackles – one for loss, and that’s about it. Mysterious trips to the bench and blanket at ill-advised times did not help this cause.

Additionally, All-Pro Security Minkah Fitzpatrick has been part of zero revenue for the past seven weeks, ending 2020 in the same silent way he ended 2019.

The Steelers defense had zero turnover and no sack against the Browns. Which is amazing, considering the Steelers led the NFL with 56 sacks and was second with 27 takeaways. The Steelers had eight sacks and three takeaways against Cleveland in both regular season clashes.

Here is a wild statistic. Mayfield and Roethlisberger combined to throw 102 times. Watt, Stephon Tuitt, Cameron Heyward and Myles Garrett were the passing throwers in the game. They have combined 42 sacks during the season. Yet neither of the two teams recorded sacks.


Oh that’s right, the punts: As Mike Tomlin said after the team’s loss to Buffalo on Dec. 15, “If you can’t get a yardstick, you don’t deserve to win.

Well, that’s apparently what Tomlin was admitting when he threw his own 46 on a fourth and one on the first snap of the fourth quarter. His team lost 35-23 at the time.

He also kicked on a fourth and 9 down 28-0 against 38 from Cleveland. It was at the start of the second quarter.

In Pittsburgh, we have a habit of waving terrible yellow towels. Sunday night looked like Tomlin was waving a white flag.

I wish the NFL had paid more attention. Maybe we wouldn’t have had to watch the second half if Roger Goodell had let them surrender.

Tim Benz is an editor for Tribune-Review. You can contact Tim at [email protected] or via Twitter. All tweets could be reposted. All emails are subject to publication, unless otherwise specified.

Categories:
Sports | Steelers / NFL | Breakfast with Benz | Tim Benz Columns



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