Wrap-up: Steelers 24, Browns 10
December, 30, 2012
By Jamison Hensley | ESPN.com
My thoughts on the Pittsburgh Steelers' 24-10 win over the visiting Cleveland Browns:
What it means: The Steelers (8-8) ended a three-game losing streak and avoided their first losing season since 2003. In what is expected to be coach Pat Shurmur's final game, the Browns (5-11) continued their miserable finish, losing for the third straight time by at least 14 points. Cleveland also failed to complete its first sweep of Pittsburgh since 1988.
Thumbs up: Steelers cornerback Cortez Allen. He forced two turnovers after having a hand in three takeaways last Sunday. His first forced fumble (it came against Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon) set up Ben Roethlisberger's 1-yard touchdown pass to Leonard Pope. Allen's second forced fumble (he stripped receiver Travis Benjamin) led to Roethlisberger's 12-yard touchdown pass to Plaxico Burress. It was a much different story than the last meeting, when the Steelers turned the ball over eight times.
Thumbs down: The Steelers' defense had a chance to become the first defense since 1991 to finish atop the NFL in pass and run defense. But Pittsburgh won't accomplish that feat after giving up 138 yards rushing. This comes against a Browns team that didn't have running back Trent Richardson.
Caught off guard: In a season when the Browns struggled to make the right calls, they surprised the Steelers with a fake punt at their own 25-yard line. Ray Ventrone ran 35 yards on the fake to set up the Browns' only touchdown of the game.
Rough finish: The likely end to the Shurmur era ended with a whimper. The Browns were outscored 96-43 in their last three games, a 17.6-point average margin of defeat.
What's next: The Browns reportedly will fire Shurmur and general manager Tom Heckert. The Steelers face some tough decisions to get under next year's salary cap.