Steelers Jump All Over Browns Mistakes

Early miscues set the tone for a 34-7 Pittsburgh thrashing of the Browns. Fred Greetham reports on the disappointing day for the home team at Cleveland Browns Stadium.

CLEVELAND - To say that it wasn't a good start would be a gross understatement.

The game was decided in the first quarter as the Browns spotted the Steelers 17 points in the first period on three critical mistakes:  a botched punt, an interception and a fumble, which gave Pittsburgh all the points they would need.

Steelers' quarterback Ben Roethlisberger took advantage of the Browns' mistakes and threw for a career-high four touchdown passes to lead the Steelers to the opening game win, 34-7. He was 12-of-23 for 161 yards, including the four touchdowns.

It was so bad for the Browns and Charlie Frye that Romeo Crennel switched quarterbacks in the first half after Frye threw an interception and was sacked five times.

Newly-signed punter Paul Ernster started the Browns' problems as he fumbled the snap on the Browns first punt attempt and was able to get off only a 15-yard punt. A penalty on the Browns gave the Steelers a first down on the Browns' 22.  On third-and-goal from the Browns' nine, Ben Roethlisberger hit Hines Ward in the corner of the end zone for a 7-0 lead with 11:49 to play in the first quarter.  The Steelers went after rookie Eric Wright on two passes on the drive. Besides the touchdown, Roethlisberger hit Santonio Holmes for a first down on the first play of the drive.

On the Browns second series, Deshea Townsend picked off a pass from Charlie Frye and returned it 21 yards to the Browns' 17. The Browns sacked Roethlisberger on third down, but Antwan Peek was offsides. Roethlisberger threw an incomplete pass on third-and-one and Jeff Reed hit a 26-yard field goal to make it 10-0 with 8:53 to play in the first quarter. 

The Steelers started their third offensive series in the first half in Browns' territory at the 40 after Jamal Lewis fumbled and it was recovered by Bryant McFadden. Roethlisberger wasted no time as he threw a 40-yard strike to Holmes for a touchdown and a 17-0 lead with 58 seconds to play in the first quarter.  Holmes got behind Brodney Pool and Wright for the score.

The Steelers took the second half kickoff and marched 71 yards. The Steelers took a 24-0 lead with 10:33 to play in the third as Roethlisberger hit Matt Spaeth for a 10-yard touchdown.

The Browns finally got on the board on their first possession of the third quarter as Anderson hit fullback Lawrence Vickers from one-yard out with 6:52 to play to make it 24-7. The Browns drove 76 yards on seven plays in 3:41. Anderson was 4-of-5 for 73 yards on the drive and he hit Kellen Winslow for 30- and 20-yards. He also hit Tim Carter for 22 yards.

The Steelers answered the Browns score with another touchdown to make it 31-7 as Roethlisberger threw his fourth touchdown of the game. This one was to Heath Miller from 22 yards out with 2:23 left in the third quarter.

Reed tacked a 31-yard field goal to close out the scoring with 7:12 to play to make it 34-7.

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