By Matthew Marczi
Brett Keisel, the longest-tenured remaining Pittsburgh Steeler, may well have played his last game in the black and gold in a win over the Cleveland Browns. Though that’s not yet certain, it is certain that he capped off the 2013 season on a high note, registering a strip sack and playing well against the run.
Late in the first quarter, going up against reserve guard Garrett Gilkey, the veteran Keisel worked the left guard back in the pocket. Once he was even with quarterback Jason Campbell, he got off the block and wrapped up the quarterback, knocking the ball loose in the process, which was recovered by Chris Carter for the turnover.
The Steelers did end up giving the ball right back just two plays later, however, when Ben Roethlisberger threw an interception down the field when he was unable to look the safety off on a deep pass.
Keisel did his part to neutralize the damage by bringing down Edwin Baker for no gain on first down. The Browns left him unblocked on a run going the other way, but Keisel chased the play down from the weak side.
Keisel also did a lot of the quiet dirty work in the run defense in this game. Though he was often taken out of plays on double teams, other times he was left to this own devices by the Browns offensive line, as on this third quarter run. He worked through the traffic on this play to form a defensive wall that penned Baker in and allowed safety Will Allen to make the tackle for no gain.
Perhaps his most impressive play of the day came at the very beginning of the fourth quarter. With the Browns facing a third and one, the Steelers were in their base defense preparing for the inevitable carry by Baker, who had had success against the front line earlier in the game using double teams on the ends.
The line as a whole stood up and held its ground. With Baker closing in on his direction, Keisel forced penetration between Gilkey and Joe Thomas, getting his body on Baker in the backfield and halting his progress.
The action allowed the perimeter defense to swarm in for the tackle under the combined efforts of Ike Taylor, Troy Polamalu, and Jarvis Jones, but it was Keisel that allowed the stop to happen.