Pittsburgh muddled, struggled, and floundered its way to an ugly 7-3 lead in the first quarter. Graham went 2 for 6 for just 13 yards, yet the Steelers managed to gut out six first downs thanks to a pair of late Marquis Smith hits and the hard running of super-sized halfback Jerome Bettis.
That all ended on the first play of the second quarter, when Palmer decided to call Cowher's bluff. With ten men in the box--count 'em, ten!--Palmer and defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel dared Pittsburgh to put the ball in the air. Thankfully, Cowher obliged.
Calling Graham's first pass a wounded duck would be an insult to wounded ducks everywhere. The ball wobbled through the sky the way Art Bietz strolls through a bar, an ugly, lurching pass that fell well short of the mark and into the arms of a surprised Daylon McCutcheon. It took Tim Couch exactly one play to launch an exquisite 25-yard timing pass to Darrin Chiaverini for a quick 10-7 lead.
From there, the Browns never looked back, as Graham heaved all manner of ailing fowl into the air. He tossed a trio of ill-advised interceptions and exposed his receivers to withering hits by sailing passes high. When Marquis Smith folded Plaxico Burress like a lawn chair on a short pass over-the-middle, Cowher had finally seen enough. He yanked Graham for Kordelia.
It was just what Crennel was hoping for. On the very next play, Orpheus Roye called Kordell a harsh name and the notoriously thin-skinned quarterback burst into tears. When a confused Dermonti Dawson snapped the ball, it squirted through the Steeler backfield into the end zone, where Courtney Brown landed on it for his first NFL touchdown.
That was the last anyone would see of Kordell Stewart for the season. The shattered young man would spend six months "resting" in a Pittsburgh psychiatric hospital. As for the Steelers, Cowher simply gave up. With 10 minutes left to play and the Browns nursing a cavernous lead, Cowher called nothing but running plays. Jerome Bettis had to be carted off the field with cramps. Richard Huntley earned himself a concussion courtesy of Darius Holland. And Amos Zerouie fumbled twice before Cowher finally ordered Tee Martin to kneel down for two straight offensive series.
Final score: Browns 215, Steelers 7
And that's the way I see it.