In what was one of the worst offensive displays under head coach Mike Tomlin, the Pittsburgh Steelers offense turns the ball over eight times, and falls to the Cleveland Browns 20-14 in AFC North action. In all, the team had five lost fumbles and three interceptions.Things started off well enough, as the Steelers got their first score of the day from an unexpected source. After the Browns took the opening kick-off and secured a first down, the defense stepped up. On a third down play, defensive end Brett Keisel tipped a Brandon Weeden pass and Lawrence Timmons picked it off and returned it 53-yards for a touchdown. Making the score 7-0 Pittsburgh before the offense takes the field.
The Browns defense forced a turnover of their own on the Steelers first possession, when running back Rashard Mendenhall fumbled. Seven plays later, they got on the scoreboard with a Phil Dawson 39-yard field goal. The kick made the score 7-3 midway through the first quarter.
For the second time in the game, the Browns took advantage of a second fumble, this one by running back Isaac Redman to take their first lead of the game. Armed with great field position at the 10-yard line, Weeden hit tight end Jordan Cameron with a five-yard touchdown pass to make the score 10-7 midway through the second quarter.The Browns offense came back to mount another drive in the second quarter. Using a balanced run/pass attack, they moved into scoring position and extended their lead. Dawson again capped this 10-play drive with a 32-yard field goal to make the score 13-7 with just over three minutes remaining in the first half.
After not being able to cross mid-field in the first half, the Steelers finally touched Browns territory late in the half and made it count. On a slow but effective two minute drive, the team took advantage of a 25-yard pass interference in the End Zone call on wide receiver Plaxico Burress, to set up a Chris Rainey one-yard touchdown run with less than five seconds remaining in the half to take the score to 14-13.
Like in the first half, the Browns were able to capitalize on a Steelers turnover to regain the lead. It took just three plays after a Charlie Batch interception for Trent Richardson to punch it in from 15-yards out. With the touchdown, the score becomes 20-14 Cleveland with five minutes remaining in the third quarter.
On top of the turnovers, the Steelers offense never seemed to get into a flow behind Charlie Batch, with all four running backs putting the ball on the ground including two lost fumbles by Mendenhall. While Jonathan Dwyer led the running backs with nine carries and 19 yards, it was Rainey who sparked the team on the ground. Unfortunately, he left the game late due to injury on a play where he too fumbled. Besides the fumbles and lack of running game, Batch, who finished 20-of-34 for 199-yards and three interceptions, got no contribution at all from Mike Wallace, who recorded his only reception of the game on the last play (nine yards). Emmanuel Sanders (5-75-0) and Heath Miller (6-63-0) paced the receivers.
Defensively, the team played one of their best games of the season regardless of the final score, holding the Browns at bay all day, even though they had tremendous field position most of the game. The fact that the Steelers offense still had a chance to pull out a win after seven turnovers is an amazing feat in itself. In all, they recorded four sacks, two by Jason Worilds, who was filling in for injured linebacker LaMarr Woodley, one by James Harrison and one by Brett Keisel. They also did a solid job of keeping Trent Richardson in check with the rookie accounting for only 85 yards on 29 carries and the one touchdown.
Injuries continue to be a story for the Steelers as they announced that Doug Legursky would start at left guard in place of Willie Colon (Knee). Colon was available for action, but has not taken the field. During the game, the hits continued with the loss of two more starters and one back up to injury. In the first half, the defense took a hit when Woodley left the field with an ankle injury. Although he attempted to return, he was eventually replaced by Worilds. That trend continued in the second half, as rookie right tackle Mike Adams left the game on a cart with an ankle injury and running back Chris Rainey left with what looked to be a groin injury in the fourth quarter.
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