Steelers defeat Browns, 27-11


STEELERS 27, BROWNS 11Steelers' record:5-6One year ago:6-5Series record (including playoffs):Steelers lead, 65-57 **STORYLINE

The game was to be played in a stadium bordering a lake that's the cause of some mean weather in late November. That, plus the proximity of the teams' cities, plus the fact this was to be the 123rd game of the series, had the word "gritty" on Coach Mike Tomlin's tongue. "Some of the things," said Tomlin, "that you normally think about going into a game – unit goals, yards, things of that nature – are irrelevant. What is relevant is that we do what's required to win the game."

With the weather being what it was, touchdowns were going to be difficult to score and protecting the football was going to be critical. When Ben Roethlisberger threw a 41-yard touchdown pass for a 10-3 lead late in the second quarter it allowed the Steelers to play with a cushion they would not lose.

Two guys who came to Cleveland with their arrows pointing up, as Mike Tomlin would say, were Jerricho Cotchery and Will Allen. Cotchery had five touchdowns over the previous three games, and 19 catches over the previous five. Allen had nine tackles, and was a part of two takeaways by making an interception and forcing a fumble.

"(Will Allen) is the defensive version of Jerricho Cotchery in the big scheme of things," said Tomlin. "In a nutshell that's what it is. He's a battle-tested guy with starter experience, and so when he goes in there it's not his first rodeo. He's a cerebral, above-the-neck thinker, rarely is he out of place, he's little to no maintenance in terms of getting him ready or getting him to the stadium."

Allen turned in two more big plays in Cleveland. On a third-and-5 in the first half, Jason Campbell completed a short pass to WR Greg Little, but Allen made the tackle short of the first down marker and Cleveland punted. The other came in the third quarter, when William Gay sacked/stripped Campbell, and Allen scooped the ball and ran 49 yards to the Browns 4-yard line.

After completing a 5-yard pass on third-and-10, the Browns' opening possession ended with a 49-yard field goal by Billy Cundiff. It was the 19th straight game in which the Browns did not score a touchdown on their opening possession, the longest such streak in the NFL.

The Steelers are winning at halftime, 13-3, despite converting 1-of-6 on third downs (17 percent) and being 0-for-1 in the red zone. But they are plus 1 in turnover ratio, and Ben Roethlisberger is 16-of-23 for 171 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions for a rating of 105.1.

AFC North Results
Baltimore 19, N.Y. Jets 3
Pittsburgh 27, Cleveland 11
Cincinnati is idle

AFC North Standings
1. Cincinnati 7-4
2. Pittsburgh 5-6
3. Baltimore 5-6
4. Cleveland 4-7
AFC North Schedule
Pittsburgh at Baltimore, Thursday, 8:30 p.m., NBC
Jacksonville at Cleveland, Sunday, 1 p.m.
Cincinnati at San Diego, Sunday, 4:25 p.m.

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