There’s probably nothing that the media would have loved more than to see some type of melee break out yesterday afternoon between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Cleveland Browns. All that they could talk about while interviewing players and coaches was about how they would temper the emotions of their teams as they take the field.
Even after it was evident that such elements didn’t play much of any role in the game, almost everybody was asked at least one question about it. Among those who would have been at the center of it all is Devlin Hodges, and he had a pretty straightforward answer on that subject.
“It didn’t seem like there was a lot of talking during the game”, he said. “We knew that we had to come out and win the game, and that was what we talked about wanting to do, wanting to win the game. It don’t matter how much you talk if you don’t win, so it was good just to get the win. It’s always good when you can take a knee at the end of the game”.
Most of the talking was done via attire before the game, but once everybody was on the field, it was about the business of winning, and neither side really did much of anything to jeopardize their chances of doing so through their behavior. Diontae Johnson drew an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for being the second guy in a little chippy incident, but that was more or less the extent of things.
Truth be told, the Browns came out of the gates and meant business. They really controlled the game, both the tempo and the narrative, through most of the first half, before the Steelers finally caught a spark once they got a free play on an offside penalty and Hodges was able to find James Washington for a 31-yard catch.
From that point on, it was mostly the Steelers the rest of the way, scoring 20 of the final 23 points in the game. In fact, all of their scoring came on four consecutive drives between the end of the second quarter and the start of the third.
The defense chipped in with some timely turnovers in the second half, including a huge interception by Joe Haden to seal the game. And I’m just going to say it, the officials really did the Steelers no favors, either, whether it was a phantom false start on Hodges, a dubious roughing the passer on Bud Dupree, or a highly questionable non-ruling of what should have been a touchback, all of those coming at critical moments in critical situations in the game.
They overcame everything else well enough, so it’s no surprise they had not problem keeping their emotions in check. As Hodges said, talking doesn’t do you any good if you don’t win, anyway, so what’s the use?