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Recent posts by Mike Wilkening
Here's a matchup to watch in the Browns-Steelers game on Thursday night:
Steelers' running game vs. Browns' run defense
The Browns, gashed for 290 yards on 55 carries by Baltimore in a 24-10 loss on Sunday, now have to deal with a Pittsburgh rushing attack that can pose some headaches for a struggling rush defense.
Steelers RB Rashard Mendenhall (169 carries, 634 yards, eight TDs) hasn't exceeded 70 yards rushing in any of the last six games, but he had a pair of TDs vs. Cincinnati on Sunday, and he is a tougher matchup than his numbers would suggest. Mendenhall runs hard and has good speed and strength.
The Steelers' top backup running back, Isaac Redman (75-318-1), doesn't have Mendenhall's speed but runs with power.
The Steelers are unlikely to pound away with the running game as the Ravens did. However often Pittsburgh turns to the ground game, though, Cleveland must be more sound vs. the run than it was against Baltimore. Ravens RB Ray Rice gained a career-best 204 yards on 29 carries against the Browns, highlighted by a 67-yard dash in which he cut back across the grain and almost scored, setting up Baltimore's second TD.
"Clearly, we didn't play the run nearly how we wanted to play it," Browns defensive coordinator Dick Jauron said Tuesday. "We took turns messing up, including me. I didn't put them in the best defenses sometimes. We got out of our gaps. You've got to tip your hat to them. They're good. We knew they were very good coming in, that they were a very talented team with an exceptional runner. We expected to do a lot better than that.
"If there was anything good that occurred, it was that we kept them out of the endzone, for the most part, and had a chance to keep the game close. But it wasn't what we wanted."