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Thursday, December 8, 2011
Steelers' game plan tonight could surprise

By Jamison Hensley

PITTSBURGH -- Everyone from the Cleveland Browns to the sellout crowd at Heinz Field expect the Pittsburgh Steelers to run the ball down the Browns' throats.

That would seem like the logical game plan considering the Browns rank second to last in run defense and gave up a season-worst 290 yards rushing four days ago. But don't be surprised if the Steelers test the Cleveland secondary, especially early.

The Steelers have had so much success lately with quick hitting passes to Mike Wallace and Antonio Brown, who have the speed and cutting ability to take short throws and turn them into big gains. Cleveland ranks first in pass defense, but the Steelers have shown a lot of confidence in their young receivers.

Pittsburgh's running game is likely to surface in the second half, when the Steelers look to control the clock and wear down Cleveland. A major problem in the Browns' inability to stop the run, at least lately, is the loss of safety T.J. Ward. A foot injury has sidelined him since Nov. 6, taking away a physical player in run support.