Ball security paramount

The Browns might rank 28th in the NFL in yards allowed per game, but quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers have a much higher opinion of the Cleveland defense.

And have since before the regular-season opener on Sept. 9 in Cleveland.

"We said going into that game they might be one of the best defenses we play all year," Roethlisberger said this week. "We're going to keep standing by that.

"They're really good. They create turnovers. They make plays. They're very disruptive."

The Browns turned the Steelers over six times in what wound up as a 21-21 tie.

"Not necessarily different," offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner said of the Steelers' approach heading into Sunday's hosting of the Browns at Heinz Field. "Maybe everyone's a lot more aware about it.

"They've done it to everyone. And we know the value of ball security, it showed in the first game."

The Browns lead the NFL with 20 takeaways (they had 13 last season), and with a plus 10 takeaway/giveaway differential.

They've collected at least two turnovers in five of six games since hosting the Steelers.

The exception was a 38-14 loss to the Chargers on Oct. 14 (the Browns managed just one interception).

That's the only Cleveland game this season that hasn't been decided by four points or fewer.

Every Browns opponent has turned the ball over at least once.

"In the end we're responsible for the ball whether they make a spectacular play or not," Fichtner said. "Our decisions and things like that have to be perfect."

The Browns took the ball away in a variety of ways against the Steelers in September.

Rookie cornerback Denzel Ward came off his man and made a diving interception of a Roethlisberger pass intended for wide receiverAntonio Brown in the first quarter and hauled in a pass that deflected off tight end Jesse James' hands in the second.

A miscommunication between Roethlisberger and Brown on a deep ball resulted in an interception by safety Damarious Randall in the second.

Running back James Conner had the ball knocked from is grasp by defensive end Myles Garrett in the fourth.

And Roethlisberger was separated from the ball twice on strip-sacks, once by Garrett in the fourth and once by outside linebacker Genard Avery in overtime.

The Conner fumble occurred on first-and-10 from the Steelers' 18-yard line with 7:44 left in regulation and the Steelers leading, 21-7. Garrett pressured from the backside on a run to the right. Safety Jabrill Peppers recovered and returned the ball to the Steelers' 1.

One play later the Browns were in the ed zone and it was a new game.

"Block your man a little bit longer, a little bit firmer, two hands on the ball, those type of things," Fichtner said, when asked how such an occurrence might be avoided this time.

That'll be the objective on more than just runs in the fourth quarter in the rematch with Cleveland.

"We gotta take care of the ball," Roethlisberger emphasized. "That's the No. 1 key."

The Steelers prepare for the week 8 matchup against the Cleveland Browns.

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