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Live from Heinz Field -- Browns
December 28, 2008 - Buck Frank
About six minutes left in the game, and we've come to this conclusion. The Browns are TERRIBLE!!!. My apologies to all of the Browns fans in the Altoona area, including Tom Fox, but they need a big change. Too bad the Lions didn't get a chance to face them this year.
We'll see how Big Ben is after the game. Other than his concussion, this game was a nice tune-up for the playoffs, considering the Steelers will have a week off now.
Big Ben update:
Just before the third quarter began, the Steelers announced Ben Roethlisberger has a concussion and will not return to the game.
The game just took a turn for the worst, although the Steelers lead, 14-0, at halftime. Ben Roethlisberger was carted off the field, strapped to a stretcher after getting hit by the Browns' Willie McGinest and D'Qwell Jackson. It appeared as though his head snapped back when he hit the ground, but it's just speculation at this point. After he went down, Roethlisberger immediately moved his hand up to his facemask. Just before he was carted into the tunnel at Heinz Field, he gave a thumbs-up to the crowd.
Of course, the question of whether he should have even been playing will only be magnified. At this stage, one can only hope it is nothing serious and that the medical staff was taking every precaution necessary. The Steelers had a similar situation earlier this season with Andre Frazier, and he was able to be back on the sideline by the end of the game.
As for the game, it almost seems wrong to even finish it at this point. Byron Leftwich did a nice job filling in for Ben and leading the Steelers to a touchdown right before halftime. Willie Parker also had a nice touchdown run.
Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz ... Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
15 minutes until kickoff
James Harrison will not play today. When he didn't practice Friday because of his hip injury, it appeared as though he would sit out against the Browns. He will finish the season as the Steelers' single-season sack record-holder with 16.
Joining him on the inactive list is safety Ryan Clark, who had been ruled out due to his shoulder. Others inactive are newly re-acquired IUP tackle Jason Capizzi, Penn Stater Scott Paxson, Fernando Bryant and rookie draft picks Bruce Davis and Tony Hills. I believe Hills was inactive for every game this year.
Kellen Winslow is not playing for the Browns, and neither is Darnell Dinkins. So that means the Browns are not only down to their fourth quarterback, but they're also down to their third tight end, Martin Rucker.
45 minutes until kickoff:
Just took a pregame walk around the stadium. Although it is warm, it is pretty windy. Didn't see many Browns jerseys, as there is usually a good amount each year when the Browns come to Pittsburgh. In fact, I only saw two -- a Brady Quinn and a Browning Nagle. Was hoping to maybe see a Reggie Rucker.
Both teams are on the field for pregame warm-ups. I'm guessing Altoona native Alan DeGennaro, the assistant strength and conditioning coach for the Browns, in out there now.
More than one hour before kickoff:
The sun is out, and the field looks great. I can't believe how green it is on Dec. 28.
The nice weather may help the crowd for today's game that will be short on drama. If the temperature was in the teens with snow in the forecast, I'm guessing we'd see a lot of empty seats.
The big thing to watch for today is whether or not the Steelers can build some momentum into the playoffs. If the offense can move the ball in the first half and build a lead, it won't really matter what happens in the second half. The Steelers could still lose the game, and it would be a positive.
The Browns are a much better team, talent-wise, than their record indicates. They just don't have that winning chemistry. They are also down to their fourth quarter, Bruce Gradkowski, and if he gets hurt, look out. The guy behind him is someone from Tarleton State. The Browns, though, may be up today to try and send Romeo Crennel out on a winning note.