Big Ben Powers Steelers Past Browns

By: AP Email
By: AP Email

PITTSBURGH(AP) No matter how you measure it, the Cleveland Browns can't beat the Pittsburgh Steelers .

Ben Roethlisberger threw two touchdown passes before the Steelers' offense began stopping itself with turnovers, and Pittsburgh benefited from a curious first-down measurement to beat the rival Browns for the 12th consecutive time, winning 27-14 on Sunday.

Roethlisberger, second in the league in passing and on pace for what would easily be the best statistical season of his career, was 23 of 35 for 417 yards in his second career 400-yard game. He threw for 433 during a 31-20 loss to Denver in 2006. Hines Ward made eight catches for 159 yards and a touchdown and Santonio Holmes had five for 104.

The game turned out a lot closer than it was expected to be for much of the second half - the Steelers, two-touchdown favorites, once led only 17-14 - mostly because each team turned it over four times in a sloppily played game in which Pittsburgh outgained Cleveland 543-197.

There were four turnovers in a span of 1:25 to end the third quarter, two by each team, about the only way the Browns slowed a Steelers offense that had gone 50 games without generating 500 yards since doing it against Cleveland in 2006.

What the Browns (1-5) couldn't figure out is how the Steelers (4-2) ended up scoring in the final minutes of the first half, on Jeff Reed 's 32-yard field goal to make it 17-7, after Roethlisberger appeared to come up several inches short on a fourth-and-1 sneak from the Browns 14.

TV replays showed the ball short of the stick on a play in which Roethlisberger took considerable time at the line of scrimmage, a tactic in which the offense tries to draw the defense offside, only to slam into the middle of the Browns' defense.

The Browns couldn't challenge the call since it was within the final two minutes of the half. Roethlisberger appeared to throw a 13-yard TD pass to Hines Ward two plays later, but the call was overturned upon review because the ball came out of Ward's hands as he rolled out of bounds.

Because of the first-down call, the Browns trailed 17-14 instead of being tied at 14 after driving for only their fourth touchdown on offense in 12 games - they've lost 11 of those - on Derek Anderson 's 1-yard pass to Lawrence Vickers that finished off a 66-yard drive to start the second half.

Anderson, who replaced an ineffective Brady Quinn after 2 1/2 games, finished 9 of 24 for 122 yards.

The Steelers, winning their third in a row, came back after Vickers' score to make it 24-14 when Roethlisberger hit Ward for 45 yards and Mike Wallace for 21 ahead of Rashard Mendenhall 's 2-yard touchdown run.

The Browns' only other scoring came on Joshua Cribbs ' 98-yard kickoff return that followed Roethlisberger's touchdown passes of 8 yards to Heath Miller and 52 to Ward. Cribbs ran untouched along the Steelers' sideline for his club-record eighth kick return score, six on kickoff returns, and his third against the Steelers.

After the flurry of turnovers ended the third quarter, Reed kicked a 39-yard field goal, and the Browns gave the ball back yet again - their fourth turnover and 32nd in their last 12 games - when Anderson was intercepted by Ryan Clark near the goal line with 4:21 to play.

Cribbs also was intercepted by Troy Polamalu , who returned after a four-game injury layoff, out of a wildcat formation during yet another dreadful first half by the Browns offense, which was outgained 289-71 in the half and 231-14 in yards passing.

The Steelers have won 18 of 19 against the Browns, counting a playoff game, and are 9-1 against them in Heinz Field.


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