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The Greatest Football Team Of All Time - Week 17

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Chapter from "The Greatest Football Team Of All Time: 2015 Pittsburgh Steelers - Super Bowl 50 Champions"

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The Greatest Football Team Of All Time - Week 17

  1. 1. Week 17 Jan. 3, 2016: Pittsburgh Steelers @ Cleveland Browns Vick Seals Perfect Season for Steelers with 19-10 Victory Over Browns In an attempt to play the big spoiler, the Browns jumped out in front of the Steelers with an early 3-0 lead, but it would be their only lead of the game as a perfect season was a thing of destiny for Pittsburgh in 2015. While the Steelers had achieved the second 16-0 record in NFL history (after the 2007 New England Patriots), the beleaguered Browns descended near the bottom of the heap with a record of 3-13. Vick performed admirably in relief of the resting Ben Roethlis- berger, completing 25 of 34 passes for 254 yards, a touchdown, and zero interceptions. Star receiver Antonio Brown also sat out today's game, which put the slack on fellow wide receiver Darrius Heyward- Bey to pick up, and he lead the team with six catches for 66 yards. Tight end Jesse James hauled in four balls for 55 yards. Replacing the resting starter Le'Veon Bell, running back D'Angelo Williams grabbed seven passes for 54 yards and rushed for 68 yards on 21 touches, but also fumbled once. Browns' backup quarterback Austin Davis got the start in place of the inactive Johnny Manziel, who became the latest victim in the game of musical chairs that the Browns were playing with their quarterbacks all season. Davis had a rough day, completing 15 of 33 passes for 137 yards, albeit without interceptions. Running back Isaiah Crowell led
  2. 2. 136 The Greatest Football Team his team in receiving with four catches for 28 yard. He also rushed for 59 yards on 14 carries. Defensive end Cameron Heyward led the Steelers in sacks with two and tackles with six. Linebacker James Harrison contributed a sack and five tackles. Defensive tackle Steve McLendon recorded a sack and two stops. Safety Mike Mitchell made three tackles in an impressive return to the lineup (he suffered a knee injury in week 5's contest against San Diego). Browns cornerback K'Waun Williams recovered D'Angelo Wil- liams' fumble. Linebacker Barkevious Mingo sacked Vick once and made nine tackles. Linebacker Paul Kruger registered a sack and seven tackles. Safety Tashaun Gipson made five stops on the day, with fellow safety Donte Whitner and linebacker Craig Robertson recording four tackles apiece. *** The Browns won the coin toss and elected to defer. Coons' kickoff was downed in the end zone for a touchback. Starting at their 20-yard line, the Steelers offense went a quick three-and-out. Jordan Berry punted the ball away 46 yards into the awaiting arms of Browns wide receiver Travis Benjamin, who returned the ball five yards to the Cleveland 36-yard line. The Browns offense established the running game immediately, with Crowell rushing for a total of 15 yards on the first three plays of the game. After Davis completed two passes for a total of 29 yards, the drive reached the red zone. However, the Pittsburgh "D" proved their mettle with a blitz and a massive 9-yard loss on Heyward's first sack of the game. The Steelers pass-rush pres- sure was too much, and on 3rd-and-goal from the 18-yard line, Davis threw incomplete. The Browns had to settle for a field goal attempt from the 35-yard line, which was successful.
  3. 3. Week 17 137 It’s a long day for the Browns O-line Coons' kickoff was downed in the end zone for a touchback. Vick went to work at the Pittsburgh 20-yard line, connecting on his first three pass attempts for 36 yards in total and picking up two first-downs on two consecutive plays. However, Williams ran into a brick wall on his two carries, and Vick threw an incompletion, so on 4th-and-6 at the Cleveland 45-yard line, the Steelers punting squad came out. Berry's punt bounced into the end zone for a touchback, and the ball came out to the Cleveland 20-yard line. The Pittsburgh defense forced a quick three-and-out that was capped off by McLendon sacking Davis for a 5-yard loss. Andy Lee's punt soared 62 yards to Markus Wheaton, who returned the ball five yards to the Pittsburgh 23-yard line. Vick completed five passes in a row, going six of seven for 54 yards overall, before Kruger sacked him for an 8-yard loss. The promising drive stalled at the 18- yard line in the teeth of Browns' red zone defense, and Scobee was called on to attempt the second field goal of the game. The kick from the 35-yard line was good, and the score was at 3 each with just under 10 minutes remaining in the first half.
  4. 4. 138 The Greatest Football Team Heyward-Bey makes an acrobatic catch in the red zone Scobee's kickoff was downed in the end zone for a touchback. The Browns tried to reestablish the ground game, but Crowell came up short of first-down yardage on three consecutive carries. Lee punted the ball away 51 yards to the awaiting Wheaton, who brought it back two yards to the Pittsburgh 23-yard line. The Steelers moved the chains four times as Vick shredded the Browns secondary, completing eight out of nine pass attempts for 72 yards. The textbook drive was crowned by the lead-taking 4-yard touchdown toss to the third running back Jordan Todman. Scobee's kick was good, and the Steelers were up 10-3 at the two-minute warning. Scobee's kickoff was downed in the end zone for a touchback. At first, Browns' two-minute drill showed some promise when Davis com- pleted four out of six pass attempts for 37 yards, but it fizzled at the Pittsburgh 43-yard line after three consecutive incompletions. Lee punted the ball away, Vick took a knee, and one half of the team's final regular season game was history.
  5. 5. Week 17 139 Davis finds himself under constant pressure To begin the second half, Scobee's kickoff was downed in the end zone for a touchback. Crowell rushed for two yards, and Davis threw an 8-yard pass for a first down. However, after Crowell ran for another three yards, Davis couldn't find his receivers on the next two pass at- tempts. Lee's booming 54-yard punt met with a good 13-yard return by Wheaton, who just missed breaking loose to go the distance. After an offensive holding call moved the ball back 10 yards, and the Steelers lost another nine yards on Mingo's sack, it was fourth down. Berry managed to put his foot to the ball and avoid a block, but ended up on the ground looking for a flag that never came. Travis Benjamin fielded the 41-yarder and returned it six yards to the Cleveland 49-yard line. The Steelers defense seemed to ratchet it up a notch, causing a net loss of one yard on Browns' next series of downs, and Lee was on the field once more to punt the Browns out of a predicament. Lee's 45-yarder arced down at about the Pittsburgh 7-yard line, where Wheaton, having a strong returning day, ran the punt back a tough nine yards to the Steelers 16-yard line. Steelers' offense fought their way out of the adverse field position. Vick continued to capitalize on short pass completions, and Williams' short bursts chipped away at the Browns defense. The door was ultimately slammed at the Cleveland
  6. 6. 140 The Greatest Football Team 26-yard line, but Scobee's 43-yard field goal attempt was good. The Steelers now led 13-3 with less than two minutes remaining in the third quarter. Browns running back Raheem Mostert returned Scobee's kickoff eight yards to the Cleveland 10-yard line. Following three straight in- completions, the Browns were facing another fourth down. Wheaton again reduced Browns' net yardage on the punt, returning Lee's 46-yarder 13 yards to the Cleveland 43-yard line. With a good field position, the Steelers offense continued to control the ball, calling short pass plays and an equal number of rushes. Vick completed each of his three passes for a total of 26 yards, while Williams picked up 15 yards on the ground. However, the final gain on third down was one yard short of the end zone. Pittsburgh decided to play it safe and settle for Scobee's chip-shot. The 18-yard field goal made it 16-3, a two- touchdown game for the Browns with 10:23 left on the clock. Williams rushes for seven yards and a first down Mostert returned Scobee's kickoff seven yards to the Cleveland 11- yard line. On the first play from scrimmage, Crowell made the high- light reel of the day by shooting out of the blocks for a 23-yard carry. Davis went into an early two-minute drill mode, completing seven out of nine pass attempts for 56 yards. However, the drive ended just as
  7. 7. Week 17 141 energetically as it had started, but moving in the opposite direction. On 1st-and-10 at the Pittsburgh 14-yard line, Harrison broke through the offensive line to drop Davis nine yards behind the line of scrimmage. On the very next play, Heyward repeated Harrison'sperformance, sack- ing Davis for another 9-yard loss. After an incomplete pass, the Browns were staring at a 4th-and-28 at the Pittsburgh 32-yard line. Probably due strong winds in Cleveland, coach Mike Pettine made the curious decision to not try a field goal. The Steelers defense celebrates another stop Lee kept his punt this side of the goal line, with Wheaton catching the ball at the Pittsburgh 6-yard line and running it out for five yards.
  8. 8. 142 The Greatest Football Team The Steelers quickly moved the ball on the ground to the 26-yard line, but on his fourth carry in a row, Williams fumbled. K'Waun Williams recovered the ball for the Browns and brought it back to the Pittsburgh 9-yard line. Three plays later, Browns' third-string quarterback Pat Devlin (replacing the battered Davis) connected on a trick play with Johnson for a 2-yard touchdown pass, and Coons kicked the extra point. All of a sudden, the Browns were within striking distance to play the big spoiler, trailing 16-10 with just 1:54 remaining in the game. However, the Steelers didn't panic and recovered Coons' onside kick at the 50-yard line. On first down, Vick threw complete to tight end Matt Spaeth for a 19-yard gain. Then Williams was given a chance to redeem himself for the fumble. He grinded out seven yards on three carries as the O-line was unable to open up holes. Nevertheless, the Steelers had advanced the ball far enough for a field goal attempt. Scobee succeeded from 41 yards out to make the score 19-10, and it was again a two-score game with only 1:09 left on the game clock. Mostert returned Scobee's kickoff 19 yards to the Cleveland 23-yard line. With only a minimal amount of face-saving to be had at this junc- ture of the game (and the season), the Browns sent relief running back Duke Johnson up the middle for 12 yards. After Devlin threw a pass for seven yards to wide receiver Taylor Gabriel, Johnson eked out an- other yard on the ground. The clock struck 00:00, and the scoreboard read Steelers 19, Browns 10. *** Pittsburgh Steelers in Review Grades • Offense • Pass Offense B • Run Offense C • Defense • Pass Defense A- • Run Defense B+ • Special Teams B • Coaching B- Top Performers 1. Cameron Heyward 2. Michael Vick 3. Darrius Heyward-Bey ***
  9. 9. Week 17 143 News around the league: Green Bay Packers clinched the NFC North title and the #2 NFC seed. New England Patriots clinched the AFC East title and the #2 AFC seed. Arizona Cardinals clinched the NFC South title. Houston Texans clinched the AFC South title. Kansas City Chiefs clinched the AFC West title. Washington Redskins clinched the NFC East title. Atlanta Falcons and Buffalo Bills clinched wild card spots.
  10. 10. Standings
  11. 11. Standings 145
  12. 12. 146 The Greatest Football Team

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