By Teresa Varley
The Steelers fought off the elements and the Browns to come away with a 10-6 victory in Cleveland, improving their record to 2-0.
Running back Willie Parker had his second 100-yard game of the season, carrying the ball 28 times for 109 yards in some ugly weather conditions and helping the Steelers keep the ball out of the Browns hands late in the game.
"The offensive line did a great job," said quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. "They have a great defense. You have to give a lot of credit to our offensive line. Willie Parker ran the ball great at the end. The offensive line, I have to give them a lot of credit."
Wild weather conditions had an impact as the wind whipped throughout the game and rain fell off and on.
"The weather was crazy," said Roethlisberger, who completed 12 of 19 passes for 186 yards and a touchdown. "That is some of the worst winds I played in. The rain came and went, but we weathered the storm."
The win was the 10th straight against the Browns and gives the Steelers the edge in the all-time series at 56-55.
"It's great to come here and get another win," said Parker. "We just build off each win. We built off of our first win against Houston and now we have something to build on going up to play the Eagles."
The Steelers won the toss, but deferred to the second half so they could have the wind at their back to start the game.
Cleveland's offense struggled early on, unable to move the ball against a stingy and swarming Steelers defense. Jamal Lewis was knocked for a one-yard loss by Troy Polamalu on the first play and then Ryan Clark had a big hit on Kellen Winslow to hold him to a three-yard gain. On the next play Derek Anderson's pass to Winslow was incomplete and the Browns were forced to punt.
Roethlisberger opened things up going to the air and completing a five-yard pass to Santonio Holmes, a one-yarder to Hines Ward and right back to Holmes on third down for a 16-yard gain. Parker got the ground game going with carries of two and six yards to set the Steelers up with a third-and-two. Cleveland's defense stepped up to the challenge and Corey Williams and Nick Sorensen combined to sack Roethlisberger for a nine-yard loss.
The Browns and Steelers both didn't have much success on their next drives with each of them going three-and-out. And the Browns didn't have much more luck on their next drive, faltering again and forcing their third punt without registering a first down in the game.
It was back to the air for Roethlisberger, hitting Ward on the right side for 19 yards. Roethlisberger went for broke two plays later throwing downfield to Parker inside the five-yard line, but Brodney Pool was there to break it up and another drive came to an end.
Things started to get going for the Browns offense, but not for long. They were able to get their first first down of the game with a 10-yard completion to Braylon Edwards, but that would be it. Lewis was stopped by Larry Foote for a two-yard gain and Anderson's pass to Joshua Cribbs was incomplete.
The Steelers opted for the ground game on their next possession in an effort to sustain a drive. Parker had four straight carries for five, seven, four and five yards. On third-and-one Roethlisberger tried to sneak it up the middle, but he was stopped by Williams for no gain and they were forced to punt.
It didn't take long for the Steelers to get the ball back. On the Browns first play Anderson's pass attempt for Edwards was intercepted by Bryant McFadden at the Steelers 30-yard line.
The Steelers were determined to make it count. Parker got things started with a five-yard gain, but was knocked for a two-yard loss by Shaun Rogers. Roethlisberger got it back when he hit Holmes for a 10-yard gain and a first down. Shaun Smith sacked Roethlisberger for a seven-yard loss on the next play, but it was all for not as he was called for a face mask penalty giving the Steelers a first down.
Parker and Carey Davis each had two yard gains and a defensive offside call gave the Steelers a third-and-one at the Browns 40-yard line. Parker was stopped for no gain on the play, but they opted to go for it on fourth down. The Browns jumped offside, but the Steelers sideline had called a timeout and the penalty didn't count. It would work out for the black and gold, though, as Parker burst to the right side for a 13-yard gain. Roethlisberger hit Holmes for a 15-yard gain for a first down at the Browns 12-yard line. The Steelers were able to strike first with Roethlisberger hitting Ward for an 11-yard touchdown, giving them a 7-0 lead.
The Browns fought right back, starting at their own 18-yard line and methodically moving the ball down the field to the Steelers 11-yard line. With just eight seconds left on the clock in the half it looked like the Browns were poised to tie the game, but Anderson's pass to Syndric Steptoe was intercepted by Polamalu at the three-yard line to send the game into the half.
The second half started off slow for both teams with each having a hard time getting going on their first drives.
Things got going for the Steelers on their second possession. Roethlisberger took over at the team's 16-yard line and went for a huge chunk of yardage right away, connecting with Holmes for a 48-yard gain to the Browns 36-yard line. Parker had back-to-back three-yard carries, but they weren't able to convert on third down. Jeff Reed came to extend the lead to 10-0, hitting a 48-yard field goal.
This time, the Browns were able to answer. Lewis moved the ball on the ground while Anderson got things under control in the air. The Browns were also aided by two big penalties, a roughing the passer on LaMarr Woodley and a taunting call on James Farrior. The Browns worked their way down to the five-yard line, but Lewis was knocked for a three-yard loss. Winslow was called for a false start, pushing them back to the 13-yard line. Anderson's pass to Jason Wright was incomplete and they had to call on Phil Dawson for a 31-yard field goal to pull within a touchdown at 10-3.
The Steelers got a huge break when the ensuing kickoff got caught up in the wind and changed direction, leaving the live ball bouncing the opposite direction of Rashard Mendenhall who was awaiting the kick. Mendenhall and Carey Davis were unable to recover it, but Woodley touched it just before it rolled out of bounds. The Steelers maintained possession deep in their own territory at the two-yard line.
A fired up Browns defense stopped Parker for no gain, but Roethlisberger aired it out to Ward for a 31-yard gain to give them some breathing room. Parker rattled off a four-yard run and Holmes went off right tackle for a 10-yard gain. A holding penalty against Justin Hartwig negated a seven-yard gain by Parker and Ward was knocked for a three-yard loss after a completion. Roethlisberger was under pressure and unable to connect with Ward on third down, forcing the punt.
Anderson got the Browns moving when he hit Jerome Harrison, who broke free from tacklers for a 23-yard gain. Winslow made a nice catch, going for the jump ball against Polamalu and pulling in the six-yard reception. Anderson was able to avoid a sack by Nick Eason and scramble for a one-yard gain, but he wasn't able to get away the next time when Aaron Smith sacked him for a six-yard loss. Anderson came back with nine-yard completions to Lewis and Edwards. Lewis was then stopped for no gain but came back with a three-yard run. On third-and-seven Anderson's pass to Edwards was incomplete. The Browns decided to go for the field goal instead of the first down, and Dawson came through with a 38-yarder to close the gap to 10-6.
The Steelers took over with 3:21 to play in the game with one goal in mind, run out the clock. Roethlisberger hit Heath Miller for a 19-yard gain, but after that it was all Parker. The Browns, though, were able to come up with a stop on fourth down and got the ball back with just 26 ticks left on the clock.
Anderson rolled right and went deep for Edwards, but they couldn't connect as Polamalu was there on coverage. Smith got his second sack of the game to end any chance the Browns would have to come back.