Sunday, November 25, 2012
Rapid Reaction: Browns 20, Steelers 14
By Jamison Hensley
CLEVELAND -- My thoughts on the Cleveland Browns' 20-14 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers at Cleveland Browns Stadium:
What it means: The Browns (3-8) delivered a hit to the Steelers' hopes of capturing the AFC North, beating Pittsburgh for just the second time in 18 meetings. The Steelers (6-5) dropped into a tie with the Bengals and fell 2½ games behind the Ravens, who play at San Diego this afternoon. Pittsburgh looked ragged on offense without its top two quarterbacks, Ben Roethlisberger and Byron Leftwich, who are injured. The Steelers' offense turned the ball over eight times, which included fumbles by all four running backs (Rashard Mendenhall, Jonathan Dwyer, Isaac Redman and Chris Rainey), three interceptions by third-stringer Charlie Batch and a game-ending fumble by receiver Emmanuel Sanders. The Browns' 20 points against the Steelers are their most in a game against Pittsburgh since November 2007, according to ESPN Stats & Information.
Capitalizing on Steelers' mistakes: The Browns scored 17 points off eight turnovers by the Steelers. Two of Pittsburgh's turnovers (Batch's first interception and Redman's fumble) gave the ball to Cleveland deep in Steelers territory. Three plays after Sheldon Brown picked off Batch (his first interception), rookie running back Trent Richardson ran for a 15-yard touchdown to put Cleveland ahead 20-14 with 5:19 left in the third quarter.
Weeden hurt: Rookie first-round quarterback Brandon Weeden was hurt in the fourth quarter and left the game with a head injury. Colt McCoy played the final two series and didn't throw a pass. Weeden finished 17-of-26 for 158 yards with one touchdown and one interception.
Batch struggles mightily: In his first start since last December, Batch was 20-of-34 for 199 yards. He was picked off three times, including twice in the fourth quarter. Batch's record as a fill-in starter for the Steelers fell to 5-3.
No whistle: Despite turning the ball over three times in the first half, the Steelers went into halftime with a 14-13 lead. After Brown's pass-interference penalty on Plaxico Burress in the end zone, Rainey got stuffed by Kaluka Maiava and D'Qwell Jackson on a run up the middle. But the whistle didn't blow, and Rainey bounced to the left side, where he scored easily.
Becoming offensive on defense: The Steelers' defense has been the best in the NFL in not allowing yards, but it has been among the worst in causing turnovers. That changed 71 seconds into the game when defensive end Brett Keisel tipped Weeden's pass and linebacker Lawrence Timmons returned it 53 yards for a touchdown. Entering Week 12, the Steelers had five interceptions. Only the Colts had fewer.
Still Mr. Perfect: Browns kicker Phil Dawson converted from 28 and 32 yards to remain perfect for the season (21-of-21). He extended his streak to 27 straight field goals, which ties his career long.
More injuries for Steelers: Steelers linebacker LaMarr Woodley injured his ankle in the first half and didn't play after halftime. Woodley missed one game earlier this season with a hamstring injury. Later in the game, rookie right tackle Mike Adams went down with a bad ankle injury. He was replaced by rookie seventh-round pick Kelvin Beachum.
What's next: The Steelers play at the AFC North-leading Ravens just two weeks removed from losing to them. The Browns travel to Oakland in search of their first road win since September 2011.