Happy New Year everyone! The Pittsburgh Steelers secured a first round bye last week and had little chance of getting the top seed in the AFC. They rested many of their starters for this week’s game against the winless Cleveland Browns and still won 28-24. The debate for the Steelers was: do they rest their stars, they’ll avoid injuries but they risk being stale and out of rhythm? The Steelers have the week off and await the winner of the Wild Card games. Let’s look at the winners and losers from this game:
Wow, just wow. JuJu capped off a spectacular rookie year with a huge game. He had 9 catches for 143 yards plus a 96 yard kickoff return. Rookie wide receivers aren’t supposed to do this. He had the most targets of all the wide receivers (10) today. He has become an integral part of the offense. For the season he had 917 yards receiving, breaking the team rookie record.
Alualu was such a great pickup for the Steelers this year in the offseason. He has provided depth on the defensive line and luckily hasn’t been needed much because Stephon Tuitt and Cam Heyward have been relatively healthy. With Heyward resting, Alualu had 2 sacks and 4 for the season. The Steelers set a single-season franchise record with 56 sacks.
Welcome to the team Stevan! The Steelers picked up Ridley after backup running back James Conner had a knee injury that ended his season. With Le’Veon Bell sitting, Ridley was the main back and made the most of it. He had 17 carries for 80 yards and a touchdown.
Yes he plays for the Browns and yes he scored a touchdown, but you can’t be mad at this guy because of the way he honors Ryan Shazier. Ever since Shazier’s horrific injury that may end his career, Johnson has paid tribute to Shazier. Every time he scores a touchdown, he says a prayer and makes a 5-0 sign. I don’t believe they know each other which makes this even more amazing.
The Cleveland Browns
I don’t get it. The NFL is a league designed for parity. Teams with good records get a worse draft position so that teams with bad records can get better players. The schedules are set so that teams with bad records the previous year have an easier schedule. So how do you explain the Browns? How can they be this bad? They’ve won 4 games in the last 3 years!! In this game, the Steelers weren’t even trying, resting their best players, and they still beat the Browns. Steelers-Browns used to be a great rivalry but now I just pity them.