The Pittsburgh Steelers never really got going on either side of the ball on Thursday night against the Cleveland Browns. For the first time in a while, that included the defensive side of the ball. The defense had not allowed a play of 40 or more yards since acquiring Minkah Fitzpatrick in Week Three, nor had they failed to record at least two takeaways in every game.
Instead, they allowed two such explosive players and recorded zero takeaways. Predictably, with the offense floundering, the Steelers lost. Not that the Browns blew them out of the water—it was just 21-7 at the final, and their last touchdown came a bit late in the game—but clearly the Browns offense was doing something right, even if that was exploiting what the defense was doing wrong.
Including an early blown coverage that left Odell Beckham. Jr. one on one with Steven Nelson on the defensive right side of the field, on a play on which it was clear that he was anticipating safety help that he never got. It was initially scored a 43-yard touchdown, but he was later ruled down at the one.
Though Beckham hasn’t had many big plays like that for the Browns this year since being acquired via trade in March from the New York Giants, he was clearly hoping to get a shot at one against the Steelers, for one particular reason.
An interview that Mike Tomlin gave during the offseason. He was asked at one point in the interview for his thoughts about having to cover both Beckham and Jarvis Landry on the same field. His immediate response was to gesture a yawn, saying that facing elite talent is nothing new.
While his response was supposed to indicate that he is already familiar with the concept of facing elite players, Beckham took this as disrespect, and he reminded Tomlin of that right after that catch, making a yawning gesture in his direction.
While the officials were reviewing the play to determine when he was down, he went over and talked to Tomlin, and yesterday he revealed how that conversation went. “I said, ‘you disrespected me’”, Cleveland.com quotes him as saying. “I said, ‘you know who I am’”.
Tomlin’s response was, “’I know who you are. That’s why we’re doubling you all game’”.
Beckham added that the two were “just talking” and that he’s never had an issue with a coach before. “We were just talking shit”.
The Browns are now riding a two-game winning streak following their win over the Steelers, closing the book on a four-game losing streak. Their hopes of a playoff berth are on a respirator, at best, but with the win, they also put Pittsburgh close to the edge as well.