The tale of two halves was staggering.
And Ben Roethlisberger, admittedly, has left the field in victory feeling a lot better than he did in the immediate aftermath of Steelers 30, Browns 27 on Sunday afternoon at Heinz Field.
"Yeah, that would be accurate," Roethlisberger acknowledged after the Steelers had blown a 24-point, second-half lead before ultimately surviving Cleveland via Shaun Suisham's last-play, 41-yard field goal. "That being said, a win's a win. We can't apologize for the way we win. We just got to win games."
The Steelers won one in September for the first time since Sept. 16, 2012 (27-10 over the Jets). That was what mattered most to those in the Steelers' locker room.
A sampling of reaction:
Defensive end Cam Heyward: "A win is a win in this league. You got to win the ugly ones. It will humble us and keep us grounded."
Guard Ramon Foster: "We wanted it (more badly) than they did. Coach (Mike Tomlin) said it last night, 'It's not going to be pretty, we're going to give some licks and take some, too.' That's exactly what happened."
Defensive end Brett Keisel: "That was a crazy game, but we're all smiles in here. We have work to do, obviously. We knew the implications of this game. This was a big game for us in our division against our rivals, we needed to get it. Everyone wants to get back to taking over our division. In doing that you've got to handle your business at home and you've got to handle your divisional games."
Running back Le'Veon Bell: "It feels good. It's a great win. I'm just glad we're not behind the 8-ball. This was a must-win game. I was telling everybody, the whole offense, we have to win this game, we can't start 0-1 because everybody's going to be like, 'Oh, back to last year.' I'm just glad to get the win. We weren't really worried about style points once the Browns got back into it."
FINDING A WAY: The second half was ugly from the Steelers' perspective, but they were at least able to adjust when absolutely necessary.
The biggest adjustment on offense occurred at the line of scrimmage on first-and-10 from the Cleveland 44-yard line with 20 seconds remaining in regulation, just before Roethlisberger hit wide receiver Markus Wheaton for the 20 yards that set Suisham up for the game-winning kick.
"It was an adjustment with about, it seemed like five seconds if not less on the play clock," Roethlisberger said. "Saw something with the defense, changed the play, and to me that's why we put the work in and that's why the credit goes to those guys. I know we laughed about the pizza-and-wings quizzes that we did (in the preseason, testing players' knowledge of the Steelers' hand signals), but that's where it comes from.
"We make an adjustment the last minute, no one blinks, no one flinches, they run the proper play and we get into field goal range. My hat goes off to (Wheaton) for making the adjustment. I threw it before he came out of his break. He turned his head, finds the ball and makes a great catch, kudos to him."
The defensive adjustments of significance took place in a sideline huddle around coordinator Dick LeBeau after the Browns had tied the game at 27-27 with 11:15 remaining in regulation.
"He just told us to focus in, he took the emotion part out of it," cornerback William Gay said. "We just got focused on what we needed to do. He pointed out things, and then (defensive assistant) Joey Porter came in with the emotion part. That's two great people. We just had to step it up.
"(Porter) was encouraging. He's the player we can't put out on the field. That's the way he gets in the game, by being that motivating guy getting us going."
Cleveland punted on each of its next two possessions , and the second of those lost 11 yards in three plays and gave the ball back to the Steelers with 47 seconds left in the fourth quarter.
ANTICIPATING MORE OF THE SAME: The Browns turned to the no-huddle offense in the second half and scored 24 unanswered points in 18:45. Heyward said part of the problem was the Steelers "came out a little complacent in the second half."
The no-huddle problem is one Heyward suggested the Steelers need to solve in a hurry with Game 2 looming on Thursday night in Baltimore.
"We didn't play as a unit," Heyward said. "We have to execute better, do our assignments better and just become a better team. We have to learn from our mistakes early because Baltimore is going to do the same exact thing."
"It's going to come back," he said. "It's a copycat league. We have to find a way to shut that down or teams are going to continue to do that to us. It's an area we need to address and need to improve."
The Browns ran for 121 yards, threw for 167 and gained 288 total net yards in the second half. Their first four drives after halftime produced 24 points. Cleveland ran for 183 yards on the afternoon and averaged 6.1 yards per carry on 30 attempts.
"There are things we have to get better at," Keisel continued. "We all just need to be gap sound. We need to all be on the same page. We all have a responsibility out there. Every one of us has a gap. Every one of us has a job to do. And if there's a breakdown with anybody it can be exploited. You got to make sure you're doing your part."