CLEVELAND--They should've just drafted him.
Ben Roethlisberger led the Pittsburgh Steelers to a 24-9 win at FirstEnergy Stadium over the Cleveland Browns in front of an announced crowd of 67,431 fans at FirstEnergy Stadium. Roethlisberger is now 20-2 over the Browns in his career that started in 2004.
A more startling statistic is the fact that Roethlisberger now has 10 wins at FirstEnergy Stadium, playing just once a year in Cleveland. FirstEnergy Stadium has been the home of the Browns since 1999. Former Browns quarterback Derek Anderson had 10 wins in the stadium during his tenure with the Browns for the most wins by a quarterback at the facility.
The game was total domination as the Pittsburgh Steelers played old-fashioned smash mouth football and controlled the ball and the clock for much of the game. They had a 9:18 drive and a 9:28 drive on their first two possessions, both resulting in field goals. They had a 8:02 drive in the third quarter. Pittsburgh was led by Le'Veon Bell, who had 201 all-purpose yards. He rushed for 146 yards (5.2 avg.) and caught eight passes for 76 yards to lead the way. The Steelers had 313 yards totaled.
“We have to stop them," Hue Jackson said. "You have to get some three-and-outs. I thought late in the third quarter, fourth quarter, our defense responded that way. Then the offense has to pick the pace up over there, but they held onto the ball. That means that when we had it, we need to do a better job. We couldn’t, as you can see, we didn’t run it very well. We didn’t throw it very well. We didn’t do a lot of things very well. It is about our team. Our team has to do their part. On defense, we have to get them off the field. On offense, we have to try to keep the ball and make first downs.”
When the Steelers weren't possessing the football, they were sacking and harassing Browns quarterbacks. Pittsburgh had eight sacks and 14 quarterbacks hits, while forcing two turnovers. They also limited the Browns to just 33 yards rushing.
The Browns only touchdown came when Josh McCown led the Browns 75 yards on 11 plays down the field and threw a 14-yard touchdown pass to Gary Barnidge to make the score 17-9. However, Cody Parkey missed the extra point wide right to keep the Browns eight points down. With 3:36 to play, Javon Hargrave recovered a fumble by McCown in the end zone to give Pittsburgh the 24-9 margin.
The loss drops the Browns to 0-11 with the New York Giants coming to Cleveland next Sunday.
Jackson said it is very tough to keep the players positive and not let negativity seep in when you're winless.
“It is extremely difficult," Jackson admitted. "There is no question it is. I think we all get that, but I am going to keep changing hats, psychology hats, whatever hat I have to wear with this group as I told them. We are going to do this the right way. We are going to finish it the right way. We are going to play better. We still have not played a full game yet, and that is what is probably the most disappointing part, but I mean by that we have not put together a whole game where we play consistent football first, second, third and fourth quarter. There were some things better in the second half today than there has been in the past. It is like it reverses, it flips, but it is not good enough. I am not questioning that at all by any stretch. It is not good enough, so we have to get better.”
Tough Pryor: WR Terrelle Pryor led the Browns with five receptions for 97 yards, including a 36 yard catch. Pryor looked like he was knocked out of the game but returned on the next play after taking a shot by DB Mike Mitchell on a high pass thrown by QB Josh McCown. Jackson said Pryor just had the win knocked out of him. Pryor also caught a 26 yard pass that set up the Browns on the one-yard line, but they had to kick a field goal.
Pryor was asked if would like to return to the Browns next season, despite possibly becoming a free agent.
“I love playing for Hue," he said. "I love playing for (Jimmy) Haslam. He is a great owner. They have given us one of the best facilities. They want to win. I don’t believe in taking the easy road and going to teams just because they are great. I would rather start how we are and then build it into an empire. I believe in battling. I don’t believe in taking the easy way out. Whatever happens in free agency, I love being here. I respect the coaches, the owners and at the end of the day, it is up to them.”
Pryor leads the Browns with 56 receptions for 724 yards and four touchdowns.
Corey's Day: WR Corey Coleman caught just four passes on 12 targets for 39 yards. He had two dropped passes. His longest catch was for 16 yards.
Gary Scores: After scoring nine touchdowns last season, TE Gary Barnidge caught his first touchdown in the fourth quarter on a 14 yard pass from QB Josh McCown. Barnidge had two catches for 23 yards.
No Pressure: The Browns were unable to sack QB Ben Roethlisberger in the game. They did have four hurries. LB Christian Kirksey led the Browns with nine tackles, followed by LB Jamie Collins with eight.
No Ground Game: RB Isaiah Crowell and RB Duke Johnson had just 10 yards each, while QB Josh McCown was the leading rusher with 11 yards.