A Thorough Whipping, 41-9

The Steelers blasted the Browns from the start, and didn't let up. Fred Greetham endured the contest at Cleveland Browns Stadium, and provides this report...

CLEVELAND—If there was any doubt in Mike Holmgren's mind concerning the future of Eric Mangini, Sunday might've made the decision a whole lot easier.

The Browns won their last four games to finish the 2009 season, which saved Mangini's job. In 2010, the Browns lost their last four games, including a 41-9 thrashing at the hands of the Browns' arch rivals in front of 68,303 fans at Cleveland Browns Stadium. The Steelers led 31-3 at the half.

"I'm not surprised," Steelers linebacker Larry Foote said. "We had more to play for. They talk about going out with a good game, but the truth is their cars are packed up, they're on the last month of their lease. We had more at stake."

The Browns finish 5-11 for the second-straight season. Meanwhile, the Steelers clinch the AFC North with 12-4 record and the second-seed in the AFC Playoffs.

"Nobody feels good and you never do after a game like today," Mangini said. "I do feel good about the progress we've made this season."

In the last three years, the Browns are a combined 3-15 within the AFC North, including 1-5 in each of the past three seasons.

The game was not what Mangini had in mind as he said he was not worried about his future, rather he was focusing all his attention on beating Pittsburgh.

It didn't happen.

McCoy threw three interceptions in the first half, leading to 17 Steelers points and the Browns found themselves down by 28 points at the half.

The Browns only touchdown came with 6:33 to play as McCoy hit Brian Robiskie for a 20-yard touchdown.

It didn't take long for Troy Polamalu to impose his presence as the Pro Bowl safety intercepted McCoy on the second play of the game on a pass that went off the hands of Ben Watson.

It seemed to set the tone for the day.

Eight seconds after the interception, Ben Roethlisberger went deep to Mike Wallace on the first play and Wallace got behind Joe Haden for the 56-yard touchdown and the Steelers led 7-0 with 14:17 to play in the first quarter.

The Steelers extended their lead to 14-0 with 6:57 to play in the first quarter as Rashard Mendenhall went in from one-yard out.

"Early on we didn't execute on offense and we had a couple of early turnovers that really killed us," McCoy said. "Kind of like last week, that puts your offense in a bind and defense in a bind. They scored on the very first play and it's hard to bounce back. They came in and played near perfect. It is on us."

After forcing the Browns to punt, the Steelers went right back to work and Roethlisberger hit Hines Ward for a first down on third-and-seven to the 40.

Roethlisberger converted the next third down as he hit Wallace on a quick slant for 41 yards to the Browns 12 on third-and-3 as Coye Francies was giving chase. The Steelers went 71 yards in 10 plays taking 4:38 off the clock.

The Browns got on the scoreboard with 14:43 to play as Phil Dawson kicked a 19-yard field goal after moving 80 yards on 15 plays, stalling at the Steelers' two-yard line.

Trailing 14-0, the Browns moved the ball. McCoy hit Watson for 13- and 9-yards to the Steelers' 49. A 15-yard pass to Brian Robiskie that went off the hands of Peyton Hillis moved the ball to the 36.

Three players later, McCoy hit Mohamed Massaquoi for 31 yards to the five on third-and-10. A shovel pass to Hillis moved the ball to the two. On the next two plays, McCoy rolled out and threw two passes to Robert Royal, who had his hands on both and dropped them. The Browns settled for the field goal with 14:43. The Browns had the ball for 7:14.

"You start the game with a pick, they had a big play to Mike Wallace and those are two thigns you can't do against a good team like Pittsburgh," Mangini said.

The Steelers answered with a second Mendenhall one-yard touchdown run to make it 21-3 with 7:51 to play in the first half. Roethlisberger got the drive going with a 10-yard run to the 40. On the next play, Roethlisberger hit Mendenhall in the flat for a 24-yard pick up to the Browns' 36.

A 16-yard pass to Emmanuel Sanders put the ball at the 16. On third-and-7, Shaun Rogers jumped offside and the Steelers converted the first down on the next play. Two plays later, Mendenhall scored his second touchdown of the game.

The Steelers increased their lead to 28-3 with 4:53 to play in the first half as Roethlisberger hit Heath Miller with a four-yard touchdown pass, which was set up by McCoy's second interception.

After getting the ball back, McCoy tried to hit Mohamed Massaquoi, but overthrew him and Ryan Clark intercepted the pass and returned it to the Browns' 24.

On first down, Roethlisberger hit Ward over the middle for 16 yards to the eight. Two plays later, Roethlisberger hit Heath Miller for a four-yard touchdown with 4:53 to play.

McCoy was intercepted by Ryan Clark, as he overthrew Massaquoi, who returned the interception to the Browns' 24.

The Steelers added a 41-yard field goal by Shaun Suisham with 1:30 to play in the first half to make it 31-3. The score, again, was set up by an interception by McCoy, this time by Anthony Madison, who returned the ball to the Steelers' 24. The big play to set up the field goal was a 26-yard pass to Antonio Brown to the Browns' 31.

The Steelers took the second half kickoff and didn't take their foot off the throttle as they extended their lead to 38-3 on a razzle-dazzle play with Roethlisberger pitching to wide receiver Antwaan Randle El, who threw a three-yard touchdown to Ward with 7:18 to play in the third quarter. The Steelers had the ball for 7:42 to open the quarter.

The Steelers made it 41-3 with 12:32 to play in the game as Suisham kicked a 24-yard field goal after the Steelers stalled at the Browns' six-yard line. The Steelers went 52 yards in 10 plays, taking 4:56 off the clock.

The Browns scored with 6:33 to play as McCoy hit Robiskie for a 20-yard score after a 12 play, 88-yard drive.

McCoy hit Cribbs for 32 yards to the Steelers' 37 and Will Allen was called for grabbing the face mask to take the ball to the 22. On first down, Cribbs under threw Robiskie in the end zone out of the Wildcat.

On third-and-10, McCoy hit Watson for nine yards to the 13 to set up fourth down. McCoy picked up the first down on a sneak.  Three plays later, McCoy found a sliding Robiskie near the sideline. The Browns tried a two-point conversion, but Seneca Wallace's pass was incomplete.

Notebook

Colt's Rough Day: QB Colt McCoy started his NFL career against the Steelers and played pretty well, despite a 28-10 loss. In the season finale, he had a game he wish he could forget as he threw three interceptions and was sacked four times. He's thrown six interceptions in his last two games as McCoy was intercepted by S Troy Polamalu on the second play of the game and by S Ryan Clark in the second quarter. The first one was a pass in TE Ben Watson's hands, but was deflected in the air and Polamalu made a diving grab. McCoy was sacked on the second series by DL Ziggy Hood. McCoy's second interception was well over the head of WR Mohamed Massaquoi. McCoy was intercepted by CB Anthony Madison late in the second quarter. McCoy was 9-of-21 for 108 yards and three interceptions in the first half for a QB rating of just 19. He finished 20 –of-41 for 209 yards, including the three interceptions and one touchdown. He was sacked four times.  McCoy was the leading rusher with just 19 yards on four carries.

"I think we all know I wasn't expecting to play," McCoy said. "I got a unique opportunity with two guys going down in front of me. I earned a lot of experience and that's really going to help. I played eight games. Nobody expected me to get. I'm fired up about it, I'm fired up about the guys in the locker room."

Peyton's Play: After missing practice all week with a rib injury, RB Peyton Hillis was active, but did not play in the first two possessions. Mike Bell was used in his place. Hillis entered on the third drive with the Browns trailing 14-0 at the 6:50 mark. Hillis had six carries for 13 yards, while Bell had five carries for 13 yards.

Big Ben and Mo: WR Mohamed Massaquoi caught three passes for 50 yards, while TE Ben Watson had seven catches for 67 yards.

Rogers Impact: DL Shaun Rogers jumped offsides on third-and-7 at the Browns' 8 to set up a short third-and-two situation, in which the Steelers picked up. Rogers combined with DL Kenyon Coleman for a sack in the fourth quarter.

End of Dawson Era: K Phil Dawson played possibly his last game as member of the Browns as he's an unrestricted free agent. Dawson is the all-time franchise leader in field goals and the number three scorer all-time with 1063 points. Dawson was introduced prior to the game after introductions of the defense were made. He kicked a 19-yard field goal in the second quarter for the Browns only score. He didn't get to kick any extra point after the final touchdown as the Browns attempted a two-point conversion.

"I was overwhelmed by the support," Dawson said. "This has been an emotional week for me. I'm overwhelmed just how great people have been with me."

Sack Attack: The Browns first sack was by LB David Bowens in the third quarter when QB Byron Leftwich entered to replace Roethlisberger. The Steelers first punt came with 3:56 to play in the third quarter after Leftwich's first series. DL Kenyon Coleman and DL Shaun Rogers combined for a sack in the fourth quarter on Leftwich. DB Mike Adams and DB T.J. Ward had seven tackles, while LB Chris Gocong and DB Joe Haden had six each.

Ambrose, Cousineau Honored: Former Browns LBs Dick Ambrose and Tom Cousineau were introduced prior to the game. Ambrose is a judge in the Cleveland area.

Hillis, Polamalu Active: RB Peyton Hillis was active after missing all week of practice. Other inactives for the Browns: WR Jordan Norwood, WR Carlton Mitchell, DL Brian Sanford, DL Ko Quaye, WR Demetrius Williams, DL Travis Ivey and DL Jayme Mitchell. Jake Delhomme is the third QB. DL Derreck Robinson started in place of DL Brian Schaefering at right end. For the Steelers: RB Mewelde Moore, CB Crezdon Butler, OT Chris Scott, OT Tony Hills, DT Steve McLendon, DE Aaron Smith and LB Jason Worilds. Charlie Batch was the third QB.


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