Pass-happy Steelers please Tomlin in victory
The notion that the Steelers are a running team is becoming as outdated as paying bills via the mail.
The Steelers had one of their most prolific passing days in years Sunday, as Ben Roethlisberger threw for 417 yards and two touchdowns and continued to torment the team from his native state.
The dominance of Roethlisberger and the Steelers’ passing game allowed the defending Super Bowl champions to overcome four turnovers and the individual brilliance of Cleveland’s Joshua Cribbs to record a 27-14 victory over the Browns at Heinz Field.
The Steelers (4-2) have won three in a row and are tied with the Cincinnati Bengals for first place in the AFC North. Roethlisberger, meanwhile, improved to 10-0 lifetime against the Browns, who had a chance to draft him in 2004 but instead took tight end Kellen Winslow Jr.
Roethlisberger overcame a slow start to complete 23 of 35 passes and rack up a 113.6 passer rating.
“(Ben) frustrates a lot of people,” Browns coach Eric Mangini said. “If we bring a bunch of guys, he gets rid of it quick. If we drop a bunch of guys (into coverage), we give him too much time.”
That conundrum summed up the kind of day it was for the Browns, who didn’t stop the Steelers as much as the Steelers stopped the Steelers.
When the Steelers weren’t playing hot potato with the football, they didn’t have trouble gobbling up big chunks of yardage.
Eight of Roethlisberger’s completions went for at least 20 yards. And for the first time since November of 2002, the Steelers had a quarterback throw for more than 400 yard and a pair of receivers (Hines Ward and Santonio Holmes) eclipse 100 yards receiving in a game.
Hines Ward finished with 8 catches for 159 yards and a touchdown. Santonio Holmes added 5 catches for 104 yards.
“Everybody is getting touches,” Roethlisberger said after completing passes to seven receivers.
“We caught them in a lot of blitzes, and we knew we’d get guys running free,” Steelers offensive coordinator Bruce Arians said. “Ben found the guys quickly and got the ball to them. I didn’t think we’d get that many (big plays), but we matched it up good a few times.”
The Steelers figured to do more damage on the ground considering that the Browns entered the game with the worst run defense in the NFL.
The Browns bottled Rashard Mendenhall and Willie Parker — the two rushed for a combined 88 yards — but the emphasis on stopping the run came at a pretty steep cost.
While Mendenhall averaged only 3.6 yards per carry, Arians lauded the second-year running back for the help he provided as a blocker when Cleveland blitzed Roethlisberger.
As for the Steelers’ offensive philosophy, coach Mike Tomlin said: “We don’t care about what means we move the chains or put points on the board as long as the job gets done. A lot of times what we do is dictated by what our opponent does, and we’re OK with that.”
Arians said there was one thing he was not OK with after the Steelers piled up 543 yards of total offense.
“The points didn’t match the performance,” Arians said. “When we put it all together, I think we can be pretty daggone good.”