Sunday, September 9, 2007

Week 1: Pittsburgh Steelers at Cleveland Browns

Right now it's great to be Mike Tomlin. A commanding season opening victory against a division rival. It's quite the way for one to kick off a coaching career with one of the most storied franchises in the NFL.

The Steelers came out of the gate strong, forcing the Browns 3-and-out on the games opening possession. On 4th down Browns kicker Paul Ernster dropped the snap, and after recovering was only able to punt the ball 15 yards to the 32 yardline. On top of the poor punt, the Browns committed 4 fouls on the play. The Steelers accepted the 10 yard holding call, and were set on prime location for the seasons opening drive; the opponents 22 yardline. 4 plays later Ben Roethlisberger hit Hines Ward in the right corner of the endzone for a 5 yard touchdown pass. And all this only slightly over 3 minutes into the first quarter.

On the second play of the Browns second possession Deshea Townsend intercepted Cleveland starting quarterback Charlie Frye on the Cleveland 38, and returned it to the 21. The drive ended with a 26 yard field goal by Jeff Reed.

Later in the first quarter James Farrior forced Browns halfback Jamal Lewis to fumble on his own 36. Steelers cornerback Bryant McFadden recovered the fumble at the 40. On the first play of the ensuing drive Roethlisberger found second year wide receiver Santonio Holmes in the middle of the endzone for a 40 yard touchdown pass.

Towards the later half of the second quarter backup quarterback Derek Anderson came in for Cleveland to replace Frye. Frye was 4 for 10 with 34 yards and an interception.

Leading off the second half, Roethlisberger lead the Steelers downfield on a 8 play, 71 yard drive, capped off with a 5-yard completion to back up tight end Matt Spaeth.

The Browns finally responded, breaking the shutout with a short play action pass on 3rd and goal from the 1 yard line. Anderson found fullback Lawrence Vickers for the touchdown.

Roethlisberger completed his fourth touchdown pass on a 22 yard toss to tight end Heath Miller. He was 12 for 23 with 161 passing yards, and no interceptions. He had a quarterback passer rating of 114.3.

Jeff Reed put in a 31 yard field goal at 7:16 of the fourth quarter, elevating the Steelers to the eventual final score of 34-7.

Browns replacement quarterback Derek Anderson was 13 for 28, with 184 passing yards, a touchdown pass and an interception.

Pittsburgh wide receivers Hines Ward and Santonio Holmes both unleashed leveling blocks throughout the game, opening the field for halfbacks Willie Parker and Najeh Davenport. Parker had 27 carries for 109 yards, and Davenport had 8 carries for 48 yards. The Steelers were 6-1 last year when Parker rushed for over a hundred yards.

Rookie Punter Daniel Sepulveda had an exceptional first game, with 4 of his 6 punts ending up inside the 20 yardline; 2 of which were inside the 5 yardline.

Roethlisberger had success throwing to tight ends to the tune of 5 receptions for 4o yards and 2 TDs.

Next week the Pittsburgh Steelers will face the Buffalo Bills at 1:00 pm at Heinz Field in their home opener.

NFL Network Video Recap

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