CLEVELAND – Bah Humbug!
The Steelers weren't very nice guests as they were more like the Grinch in stealing Christmas from the Browns as they rolled to a 41-0 win over the Browns.
The game was never in doubt after the opening kickoff as the Steelers kept their playoff hopes alive. The Browns dropped to 5-10 and close out their season next week as they host the Ravens.
In a game that was a measuring stick to see how far the Browns had improved since the 38-21 loss earlier this season, the Browns showed Sunday they aren't that close to competing within the division. If the Browns lose to the Ravens next week, they will finish the season without a win in the division.
The game was closer to the 43-0 lambasting the Steelers put on the Browns in the first game of the 1999 season when the Browns returned to the NFL.
The Browns could get nothing going on offense until they trailed 27-0 and then it wasn't much. Charlie Frye had back-to-back good plays as he rolled out and hit Antonio Bryant for 29 yards and then scrambled for 12 more. However, the Browns stalled and turned the ball over on downs.
Frye finished 20–of-39 for 183 yards, including no touchdowns and no interceptions. He was sacked seven times and fumbled three times, losing one. He rushed the ball three times for 9 yards.
The Steelers got things going quickly. After forcing a three-and-out to on the Browns, the Steelers took the ball on their own 16 and drove 84 yards on 11 plays in 5:51 to take a 7-0 lead. Jerome Bettis--possibly playing in his final game against the Browns-- ran the ball three-straight times covering eight yards to get the touchdown, including the final two yards as Bettis dragged Ben Taylor into the end zone.
After another three-and-out for the Browns, the Steelers went right down the field again. This time, Ben Roethlisberger hooked up with Hines Ward on three big pass plays, including the 7-yard touchdown to give Pittsburgh a 14-0 lead. This time the Steelers needed just six plays to go 63 yards in 3:08. Roethlisberger finished 13-of-20 for 226 yards and one touchdown. He was sacked twice.
The Browns trailed 17-0 after Jeff Reed kicked a field goal on the third play of the second quarter. After James Harrison blocked a punt by Kyle Richardson, the Steelers added a 31-yard field goal by Reed to make it 20-0 with 2:17 to play in the first half.
Willie Parker opened the scoring in the second half as he broke through the line for an 80-yard touchdown run to make it 27-0 with 9:02 to play in the third quarter. Parker had 130 yards, including the touchdown and went over the 1,000 yard mark.
The Steelers added another score when Verron Haynes ran from 15-yard out in to make it 34-0 with 1:05 to play in the third quarter after Frye was sacked and he fumbled inside the 20.
To add salt to the wound, Batch threw a 31-yard touchdown to former Morgan with 6:16 to play to make it 41-0.
Not Good: The Browns had virtually no positive stats in the first half. RB Rueben Droughns was the leading rusher with seven yards on four carries. WR Dennis Northcutt was the leading receiver with two catches for 7 yards. The Browns had 22 total net yards and were 1-of-8 on third down. The Browns had one first down. Charlie Frye was 5-of-15 for 42 yards and a rating of 42.4. Droughns finished with just 36 yards rushing on 10 carries, including a run of 21 yards. Northcutt was the leading receiving with five receptions for 23 yards.
Blitzburgh: As expected, the Steelers blitzed rookie QB Charlie Frye all day and had seven sacks. LB Joey Porter had three of them.
Heads up Pool: S Brodney Pool alertly recovered a fumble by KR Joshua Cribbs on the Browns' 27 on the ensuing kickoff after the Steelers scored their first touchdown. Then, after PR Antwaan Randel El returned a punt 36 yards, Pool recovered the ball on the seven-yard line.
Slow Start and Day: The Browns went three-and-out on their first five offensive series. After the first quarter, the Browns had a total of one yard on 12 plays to the Steelers' 196. The Browns had zero first downs until 8:14 to play in the second quarter after a 29-yard pass play from Frye to RB Reuben Droughns.
On the Other Hand: The Steelers scored touchdowns on their first two possessions and a field goal on their third and built a 17-0 lead only three plays into the second quarter. The Browns didn't force a punt until 9:27 to play in the second quarter.
Not Challenging: Romeo Crennel is 1-of-6 on challenges after losing a challenge on a pass thrown to TE Steve Heiden in the first quarter.
Busy Day: P Kyle Richardson punted 8 times, including seven in the first half. He had a punt blocked in the second quarter after a low snap, which led to a Steelers score.
Christmas Cheer: When a fan ran across the field in the fourth quarter, play was stopped as security tried to catch him. LB James Harrison (from Kent State) got a hold of the guy and picked him up and body slammed him to the ground and sat on him until security was able to grab him.