Steelers Stay Alive in Playoff Hunt with Win Over the Browns

Steelers’ wide receiver James Washington (13) focuses on catching the 30-yard touchdown pass from Devlin Hodges on December 1, 2019 against the Cleveland Browns at Heinz Field. (Brian Cook / Golden Sky Media)

PITTSBURGH (GSM) — The Steelers control their own destiny!

The Pittsburgh Steelers are sitting with a record 7-5 and have — at the  moment — solidified their spot in the 2nd place in the AFC North division after defeating the Cleveland Browns 20-13 at Heinz field, Sunday. With a litany of injuries to starters on both sides of the ball, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin realizes his team was faced with an uphill battle and after the victory simply said no matter what, you have to get it done. “It feels good to win always, but it definitely feels good to win when you are faced with adversity in terms of people available to you,” Tomlin said. “There’s just less margin for error. Not that we feel like we are incapable, we just realize we have to play closer to optimum level.”

Tomlin made the necessary adjustments before the second half based on what he observed throughout the game. 
 
Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin pointing at the referees during the game against the Cleveland Browns on December 1, 2019 at Heinz Field. (Brian Cook / Golden Sky Media)
“We felt like we needed to minimize their run in the second half more than we did in the first half and we needed to run it better than we did in the first half. We felt like it was 10-10 at the half, but they had won the line of scrimmage. They had more significant run plays, they had control of the time of possession. We needed to flip that.” — Mike Tomlin, Head Coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers
 
Cornerback Joe Haden sealed the win for Pittsburgh with an interception against Cleveland’s Baker Mayfield and took to the postgame podium with a smile on his face knowing that, despite his individual play of 2 tackles and 1 INT, it was a good team win. “We just have a group of guys with Terrell [Edmunds], Steve Nelson and then the addition of Minkah [Fitzpatrick]. This is one of the best secondaries I have ever been a part of because we have communication, we have guys that are very football smart and are very capable of making plays.” Haden said “I feel like I am holding my side down, but everybody else is doing their thing in the back end.”
 
Running back Benny Snell Jr. rushed for 63 yards on 16 carries and a touchdown. He said the win was dedicated to center Maurkice Pouncey who was suspended for the game due to the unfortunate on field altercation the last time the Steelers and Browns met where a fight broke out and Pouncey came to the defense of his teammates. “Him [Pouncey] not being out there with us, we wanted to get this win for him. That’s why we got the game ball for him as well. I’m happy and I’m proud!” 
 
Devlin “Duck” Hodges passes during the game against the Cleveland Browns on December 1, 2019 at Heinz Field (Brian Cook / Golden Sky Media)
For the second consecutive game QB Duck Hodges connected with wideout James Washington for a score. This time for 30 yards splitting two defenders for the touchdown. Washington says coach Tomlin’s motivation is what plays in his mind constantly. “Coach [Tomlin] would always say, ‘You never know how many opportunities you’re gonna get.’ What better game not to going out there and do that?!”
 
The Steelers head to Arizona to face the Cardinals who are 3-8 and in last place in the NFC West. 
 

BRIAN COOK IS AN EMMY-NOMINATED INTERNATIONAL JOURNALIST WHO HAS BEEN COVERING THE NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE SINCE 2005. HE CAN BE REACHED AT BCOOK@GOLDENSKYMEDIA.COM.
FACEBOOK | INSTAGRAM | TWITTER  

The “Duck” Will Lead the Flock Against the Browns

Pittsburgh Steelers​ undrafted quarterback Devlin Hodges puts on his helmet moments before going into the game against the Ravens, following a vicious hit which left starter Mason Rudolph unconscious. He went 7-9 for 68 yards on October 6, 2019 at Heinz Field. (Brian Cook​ / Golden Sky Media Company)

PITTSBURGH (GSM) — It’s official! Devlin “Duck” Hodges will be the starting at quarterback this week. Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin made the official announcement during his weekly press conference Tuesday.

“We met as a staff, we’ve decided that we’re going to start Duck this week.” Tomlin said. “I’m hopeful that he’s capable of continuing to provide that spark as we step into this stadium.” Tomlin echoed his statement following the (16-10) win against Cincinnati where Mason Rudolph was benched in the second half. Following the game, Tomlin said, “Mason wasn’t doing enough.” At that point, it is suspected that the decision was already made to start Hodges in the following game.

When Hodges saw action so far this season, he completed 67.5% of his passes for 318 yards, 2 touchdowns and 1 interception. The last time he started a game was week 6 against the Los Angeles Chargers — on the road — and came away with a 24-17 win.

The undrafted QB, out of Samford University, found a solid place on the active roster during week 1 of the 2019 NFL season after the season ending injury to Ben Roethlisberger


BRIAN COOK IS AN EMMY-NOMINATED INTERNATIONAL JOURNALIST WHO HAS BEEN COVERING THE NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE SINCE 2005. HE CAN BE REACHED AT BCOOK@GOLDENSKYMEDIA.COM.
FACEBOOK | INSTAGRAM | TWITTER  

The Steelers Add Another Win to the Column; Stay Alive in Playoff Hunt

Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin smiles during practice at the team’s facility on Pittsburgh’s South Side. (Brian Cook / Golden Sky Media)

(GSM) – The Pittsburgh Steelers defeated the Cincinnati Bengals 16-10 Sunday in a game that was surprisingly tight. Coach Mike Tomlin benched embattled quarterback Mason Rudolph in the second half after a tough showing on offense. He completed 50% of his passes going 8/16, 85 yards, no touchdowns and 1 interception. Tomlin, said making the change to backup Devlin Hodges was a no-brainer, “I just felt like our offense needed a spark. Just felt like Mason wasn’t doing enough.” Tomlin said. “But I like the contributions of “Duck;” [Hodges]. I like his readiness. I appreciate the efforts of Mason and also appreciate the support of Mason after we made the change. That’s how we get down.”

Pittsburgh Steelers​ undrafted quarterback Devlin Hodges. (Brian Cook​ / Golden Sky Media Company)

Devlin Hodges, humbled with his approach says he just wants to win games for the team no matter who is in the game. “I didn’t think the third play I was in that I’d be throwing a 79-yard touchdown pass, but if I could go back and do it again, it would be pretty cool.”

The Steelers will host the Cleveland Browns for the first time since the melee that took place where several players got into a fight. The Browns will be without defensive end Myles Garrett who is suspended for the season after hitting Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph with his own helmet. Also, defensive Tackle Larry Ogunjobi will also miss action due to suspension. Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey, also forced to sit out due to his part in the altercation. Nonetheless, Sunday’s matchup is expected to be hard hitting and full of bad feelings as this AFC North rivalry continues to be one to watch.

Pittsburgh is currently the 6th seed in the hunt for the post-season with a record of 6-5 and are in second place in the AFC North behind the Baltimore Ravens.


BRIAN COOK IS AN EMMY-NOMINATED INTERNATIONAL JOURNALIST WHO HAS BEEN COVERING THE NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE SINCE 2005. HE CAN BE REACHED AT BCOOK@GOLDENSKYMEDIA.COM.
FACEBOOK | INSTAGRAM | TWITTER  

Tomlin ‘Smiles in the Face of Adversity’ as Steelers Tackle Myriad of Injuries

Pittsburgh Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin during the matchup against the Cleveland Browns. October 28, 2018 (Brian Cook / Golden Sky Media, FILE)

PITTSBURGH (GSM) — Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin acknowledged that injuries are a part of the game. The realization of adjusting for the sudden — and always unexpected — changes in personnel can throw off team chemistry. However, Coach Tomlin has preached the, “next man up” approach on the journey to success as his team continues to heal.

Since the beginning of the 2019 season, the Steelers lost starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger for the season due to an elbow injury on his throwing arm which required surgery. Starting defensive end Stephon Tuitt is out for the year with a pectoral tear, free safety Sean Davis was put on injured reserve with a shoulder injury, fullback Roosevelt Nix is also on IR with a knee ailment and kick returner/WR Ryan Switzer’s back will keep him from seeing action. Running back James Conner has missed significant time on the field as well when he re-aggravated his shoulder. Most recently, wide receivers JuJu Smith-Schuster and Diontae Johnson in addition to linebacker Ola Adeniyi succumbed to concussions in the game against the Browns last Thursday night, just to name a few. Quite a few, actually.

While the team has seen its fair share of fallen players, Tomlin said in his weekly press conference Tuesday, “I don’t spend a lot of time crying over who’s available or who’s not available. It’s as much a part of the game as blocking or tackling,” Tomlin said. “If you are a competitor — like we as coaches are competitors — that fires you up. You want to smile in the face of adversity.” 

The Steelers will play on the road Sunday Nov. 24 against the winless Cincinnati Bengals (0-10), a team that would love to get a win against the Pittsburgh. The Steelers (5-5) are still mathematically alive in the playoff hunt and in 2nd place in the AFC North division.


BRIAN COOK IS AN EMMY-NOMINATED INTERNATIONAL JOURNALIST WHO HAS BEEN COVERING THE NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE SINCE 2005. HE CAN BE REACHED AT BCOOK@GOLDENSKYMEDIA.COM.
FACEBOOK | INSTAGRAM | TWITTER  

Two Starting Wideouts in Steelers’ Concussion Protocol

Steelers wide receivers Diontae Johnson (18) and JuJu Smith-Schuster (19) share a moment on the sideline after Johnson’s 45-yard touchdown reception against the Miami Dolphins on October 28, 2019 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh. (Brian Cook / Golden Sky Media)

PITTSBURGH (GSM) — Banged up wideouts JuJu Smith-Schuster and Diontae Johnson are added to the list of starters who have temporarily fallen victim to injuries. 

In the game against the Cleveland Browns Thursday, both standouts left the game with concussions and as of Monday, were still in concussion protocol. Neither were available for interviews.

JuJu Smith-Schuster left the game after suffering a helmet-to-helmet hit. In the second quarter, 2 defenders, [former Steeler] Morgan Burnett and Greedy Williams made contact with both sides of Smith-Schuster’s helmet, on the same play, leaving him motionless on the field. He was later able to walk off the field on his own.

Smith-Schuster took to his Twitter account to thank those who were supportive following his injury:

As for Diontae Johnson, Browns safety Damarious Randall lowered his head and collided in the third quarter with Johnson after a helmet-to-helmet hit, leaving him wincing in pain. Johnson started bleeding from his ear shortly thereafter. The hit prompted an immediate ejection of Randall.

The Steelers announced the signings of two receivers, Quadree Henderson and Amara Darboh, Thursday in addition to additional roster moves.

In a statement from the Steelers:

“The Pittsburgh Steelers have signed wide receiver Deon Cain and running back Kerrith Whyte Jr. to the 53-man roster, it was announced today. To make room on the 53-man roster, the Steelers released linebacker Jayrone Elliott and running back Tony Brooks-James.”

 


BRIAN COOK IS AN EMMY-NOMINATED INTERNATIONAL JOURNALIST WHO HAS BEEN COVERING THE NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE SINCE 2005. HE CAN BE REACHED AT BCOOK@GOLDENSKYMEDIA.COM.
FACEBOOK | INSTAGRAM | TWITTER