CLEVELAND -- For the second consecutive week the Browns played a meaningful game in the AFC North.
The Browns are 0-2 in those meaningful games.
After getting blown out by the Bengals, 41-20 a week ago, the Browns dropped to 4-7 and virtually all playoff hopes were dashed as the Browns lost a 27-11 lackluster game to the Steelers. The Browns have now lost five of their last six games and have lost controlling their own destiny within the division and the Wild Card race. They are two games behind the second Wild Card teams with just five games to play.
"We let opportunities slip through our hands for the last two weeks," Rob Chudzinski said. "(We) still have games left in the season and opportunities to play. The men in that locker room there have a lot of character and I believe in them. I believe in our coaches.
"We will bounce back and play well," he said. "We lost some of the control that we had in our own future, but we'll bounce back and be ready to play (the Jaguars) next week."
In a cold, blustery game at FirstEnergy Stadium, the Browns were unable to move the ball consistently on the ground or through the air. The Steelers converted three of four Browns turnovers into 17 points.
To add insult to injury, the Browns lost their quarterback to injury. Ttrailing 13-3 and driving on the Steeler's 39, Jason Campbell was blindsided by William Gay on a corner blitz and was strip sacked with 7:46 to play in the third quarter. Will Allen picked up the loose ball and raced 49 yards to the Browns four-yard line. Emmanuel Sanders scored on the next play on a slant from Ben Roethlisberger and the Browns were down 20-3.
Campbell was taken to the locker room with a concussion and his status for next week is uncertain. Brandon Weeden, who replaced Campbell in the first half for one play when Campbell hurt his ribs, finished the game.
"Whoever the quarterback is next week, we'll get him ready to play," Chudzinski said. "We'll go out and guys will rally behind him, whoever he is, and we'll play."
Joe Haden said the play and the injury deflated the Browns.
"You saw it," he said That's what happened. They were making plays, they were playing aggressive. When Campbell goes down, that's our guy, but Weeden is always ready to play. But when a guy has something going, the thinking is you have your guy. There's no excuses, we have to step up and make something happen."
Campbell finished 14-of-22 for 124 yards with two sacks and a fumble. His rating was 78.6.
Josh Gordon, who had a record-setting day, said the continual rotation of quarterbacks has been tough.
"I think for any team it would be difficult," he said. "The only benefit is that we have already played with Brandon, so it's easier to adjust to him. We want the fans to get behind guys and we don't want them to boo guys when they get on the field. Again, we're not really sure what happened, we just made one too many mistakes and (the Steelers) capitalized on it. We just couldn't come back quickly enough."
The Steelers turned four Browns turnovers into 17 points, two touchdowns and a field goal.
The first converted turnover was near the end of the first half when Chris Ogbonnaya fumbled and the Steelers were able to pick up a field goal to give the Steelers a 13-3 half time lead. Followed by the Gay strip-sack and touchdown, Weeden was intercepted by Gay, who scampered into the end zone from 21 yards to make the score, 27-3.
Weeden took over in the third quarter when Campbell was hit by William Gay and was 13-of-30 for 209 yards with a touchdown and an interception. He was sacked three times and had a 64.4 rating.
It appears that Weeden will be the starter again for the third time this season. He started the first two games and then injured his thumb. He was replaced by Brian Hoyer, who started three games until tearing his ACL. After regaining his starting job after Hoyer's injury, Weeden started against the Lions and Packers before getting replaced by Campbell.
"It's going to be good getting some reps in practice and get to throw to the guys I'm going to be throwing to and doing some plays within our offense," Weeden said. "I haven't been able to do that the last few weeks. That's always a challenge, but it'll be nice to get out there. Hopefully, Jason comes back sooner than later."
Weeden admitted it's been a strange season for the Browns at the quarterback position.
"Yeah, it has," he said. "I've never been in a situation like it, but that's the National Football League. It's a physical game. Quarterbacks are getting hit and it's just a physical game. You have to be ready at all times, you never know what's going to happen."
T.J. Ward admitted the ineffectiveness of the offense has been frustrating.
"It is frustrating," he said. "I'm not going to lie, but it's out of our power. We have to trust that (the offense) is doing everything in their power to win ball games like we are. And I trust that and I know that, it's just things aren't going the way any of us want them to go right now."
Haden was asked if the season is slipping away at 4-7.
"No, you can't say that," he said. "We have another game, the season's not over, until everything is over. We still have to go out there, we still have to play. We are playing, no matter what is at stake, we are still playing. What you put on tape, that's your resume and everybody has to 'ball out'. Who knows who is going to be here?"
Record Day for Gordon: Despite a disappointing game for the Browns as a team, WR Josh Gordon exploded for 14 receptions and 237 yards, including a one-yard touchdown. The yardage total set a Browns franchise record, while the 14 receptions tied the record, both held by Hall of Fame TE Ozzie Newsome. Gordon had a 47-yard reception for his long catch of the day after QB Brandon Weeden hit him starting from the Browns own one-yard line. Gordon caught a short pass and went 24 yards to the Steelers 36 on opening drive to set up a 49-yard field goal by K Billy Cundiff. Gordon had five receptions for 62 yards in the first half. Gordon was targeted a game-high 17 times.
Gordon downplayed the record.
"Honestly, it really doesn't mean that much to me," Gordon said. "After taking a loss like that, it means nothing. It is great for me as a wide receiver to get that experience, but if we can't go out there and win, I don't really care about it."
"Josh obviously played and had a big game and has been playing at a high level, and today he did," Chudzinski said. "We have to find some other guys to make plays, as well."
Newsome had the previous yardage record of 191 yards and had 14 receptions against the Jets when he performed the feat on Oct. 14, 1984.
"Josh is a good talent," Weeden said. "He's a great route runner. He has a great feel for running routes and stuff like that. Norv (Turner) does a great job of drawing up plays to try to get him involved because he's a big asset for this offense. There are a lot of things that go into it. He's a big time playmaker and as the quarterback, you know where those guys are at all times."
Gordon has 54 receptions on the season for 988 yards and five touchdowns (18.3 avg.), just 12 yards short of 1,000 yards.
Other Guys: Besides Gordon, the other receivers were held in check. WR Davone Bess had five receptions for just 27 yards and WR Greg Little had two for 17 yards. TE Jordan Cameron had three catches for 32.
Boss Ward: S T.J. Ward tied LB D'Qwell Jackson for the team lead with 9 tackles. Ward had two tackles for loss and Jackson had one pass batted down.
Obie's Troubles: RB Chris Ogbonnaya had an 8-yard gain to move the ball into Steeler territory near the end of the first half, but fumbled and the Steelers recovered. The Steelers were able to move to the Browns 14 before settling for a 32-yard field goal to make it 13-3 at the half. Ogbonnaya had four rushes for 26 yards in the first half and caught one pass for 11 yards. Ogbonnaya led the Browns with 26 yards on just four carries. He also caught two passes for 15 yards. RB Fozzy Whittaker had six carries for 16 eards while RB Willis McGahee had just four carries for 12 yards.
Sackless: The Browns were unable to sack QB Ben Roethlisberger in the game. It was the second-straight game the Browns were unable to register a sack. The closest to a sack was a pressure by LB Barkevious Mingo in the second half and one by DL Ahtyba Rubin.
Big Ben's Dynasty: QB Ben Roethlisberger was 16-of-23 for 171 yards and a touchdown in the first half and finished 22-of-34 for 217 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions. His rating was 102.2. Roethlisberger is now 16-1 against the Browns in his career.
Haden Island: CB Joe Haden had only given up one touchdown all season before WR Antonio Brown got behind him for a 41-yard score in the second quarter. After holding Brown without a reception for a quarter and a half, Brown caught five passes for 83 yards, including a 41 yard touchdown in the first half. He finished with six receptions for 92 yards and a score on 10 targets. Haden had three tackles and three passes broken up.
The Steelers scored 10 points in the final 2:41 of the first half.
"They definitely started scoring on us," he said. "It started going downhill and we weren't able to stop it."
Ring the Bell: Rookie RB Leveon Belll had 10 carries for 43 yards in the first half and finished with 80 yards on 23 carries. He also caught two passes for 18 yards.
Carder Starts: LB Tank Carder started his second NFL game and first this season in place of LB Craig Robertson, who missed with a knee injury. Carder had to leave the game in the second quarter after injuring his shoulder. He was replaced by LB Darius Eubanks, who had three tackles. Other inactives for the Browns were: OL Martin Wallace, OL Reid Fragel, OL Patrick Lewis, OL Garrett Gilkey, DL Armonty Bryant (back) and TE MarQueis Gray (hamstring). For the Steelers: DE Brett Keisel, LB LaMarr Woodley, QB Landry Jones, WR Derek Moye, S Shamarko Thomas, TE Richard Gordon and LB Stevenson Sylvester.
Fall Short: The Browns tried to beat all three division rivals at home, but were unable to do so.
All Brown: For the second time, the Browns wore the brown jerseys and brown pants. The only other time they wore the ensemble was in their Thursday Night win over the Bills earlier this season.