Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Look out. Cleveland.

Here we go again. Twice a year for the past 50 years or so.

Cleveland. The Browns.

Last Sunday, a Cleveland team that had seemed to be on the rise reverted to being the Browns. Despite cornerback Joe Haden intercepting two Andy Dalton passes and returning one for a touchdown, and despite limiting the Bengals to one third-down conversion in 14 attempts, the Browns still managed to surrender 41 points, including 31 in the second quarter.

You think the Steelers had a bad second quarter when they let the Lions score 27 points? The Browns out-did that, allowing the Bengals to score 31 points vs. zero for the Browns -- despite Cleveland controlling the clock for 11 minutes, 18 seconds to Cincinnati's 3:42.  How does that possibly happen?

Send in the Clowns.
Cleveland had two punts blocked, one returned for a touchdown. The Browns coughed up a fumble, which was returned for a touchdown. And quarterback Jason Campbell was terrible.

Campbell had played well the previous two weeks but was nursing bruised ribs, although he claimed they didn't affect him. Against the Bengals, he tossed three interceptions, had a pass batted down at the line and missed a wide-open Jordan Cameron in the end zone.

On the road in miserable conditions rainy and windy, the Browns coaches for some reason had Campbell throw the ball 56 times. He completed 27 of those 56 attempts (less than 50 percent).

The three picks, combined with the two blocked punts and fumble returned for a touchdown buried the Browns.

On Sunday, the Steelers will be in Cleveland. Wacky things happen in Cleveland.

Buried in Cleveland last Nov. 25th
We all remember last year's Calamity in Cleveland, Nov. 25th, when the Steelers committed eight turnovers, including five fumbles lost (eight fumbles altogether). Charlie Batch threw three horrific interceptions and had more than a few off-target throws. The Steelers committed stupid, ill-timed penalties, dropped passes, managed just 49 yards rushing, and were one-for-nine on third down. It was ugly as ugly gets.

Granted, there's been a lot of roster turnover on both teams since then. The Browns have actually played pretty good defense for most of this season, but their offense has been erratic at best.

With both teams at 4-6, this is a pivotal game for both the Browns and Steelers. There's no predicting this one, except Lake Effect Snow is forecast for Sunday in Cleveland.

It's likely to be messy and ugly. It's Browns-Steelers.

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