Steelers Rally to Defeat Browns

Fred Greetham recaps the Browns narrow 31-28 loss to their rivals in Pittsburgh. Here's what happened on a cold, nasty day in Pennsylvania.

It was billed as the biggest game thus far of the 2007 season for the Browns.

The Browns had lost eight straight against Pittsburgh and were trying to leave Heinz Field tied at the top of the AFC North.

It's now nine as the streak continues as the Browns let a 12-point lead evaporate in the second half and lost 31-28. The Browns fell to 5-4 and the Steelers improved to 7-2.

It was a tale of two halves as the Browns played a mistake -free first half, but then made mistakes and had no offense or defense in the second half. The Browns had just 16 yards in the second half after putting up 21 points in the first half. The biggest mistake was when the Browns were called for holding on Joshua Cribbs' punt return to the Steelers' 38 with under a minute to play. The Browns had to start at their own 33, instead of Pittsburgh's 38 which was a net difference of 29 yards.

After moving from the 33 to the Steelers' 36, Phil Dawson's 53-yard field goal attempt was on target but a couple of yards short with four seconds to play.

The Browns took the opening drive 71 yards on 16 plays as Derek Anderson hit Kellen Winslow with a four-yard touchdown pass to give the Browns a 7-0 lead with 4:10 to play in the first quarter.  The Browns had a methodical drive, converting first downs on four third downs. Anderson hit Joe Jurevicius for two conversions and hit Jason Wright on third-and-7 from the eleven and Wright was able to get the first down at the four. The Browns had their longest drive in nearly two years as they went took 8:55 off the clock. Winslow caught four passes on the drive, including the touchdown.

After the Browns score, the Steelers answered with a 28-yard field goal by Jeff Reed to make it 7-3 with 1:29 to play in the first quarter. The drive was triggered by a 31-yard run by Willie Parker to the Browns' 10. The big play on defense was made by rookie Eric Wright as he batted the ball away in the end zone as Ben Roethlisberger was trying to hit Hines Ward in for the touchdown.

The Browns wasted little time extending their lead to 14-3 after Joshua Cribbs took the ensuing kickoff and went 90 yards to the Steelers' three. Jamal Lewis took it in on the first play, but Braylon Edwards was flagged for a false start to negate the touchdown. After the penalty, Lewis had a five-yard run to get back to the original line of scrimmage. On a short gain on the next play, Anthony Smith was flagged for taunting to give the Browns a first down on the one.

On first down, Lewis was stopped for a short loss to end the first quarter. On second down, Anderson play faked into the line to Lewis and then hit Lawrence Vickers in the end zone for a 14-3 lead with 14:56 to play in the first half.

The Steelers cut the Browns lead to 14-6 after the Browns' second score. The Steelers moved to the Browns' 17 and were faced with a third-and-one and the Browns were able to gang tackle Najeh Davenport short of the first down to force the Steelers to settle for a second field goal by Reed  with 9:02 to play in the first half.

Brodney Pool intercepted Roethlisberger's first pass intended for Santonio Holmes at the Steelers' 18 with 6:23 to play in the first half. Lewis fumbled the first carry as he was stripped by James Harrison, but Hank Fraley recovered the ball. On third down, Anderson tried to hit Edwards in the end zone but it was ruled he didn't get his feet down inbounds.

Romeo Crennel challenged the call and replays looked as though Edwards got his feet down inbounds. The referee agreed and reversed the call to give the Browns a 21-6 lead with 5:24 to play in the first half. The 16-yard play saw Edwards beating Ike Taylor for his 10th touchdown of the season.

The Steelers answered the Browns' third touchdown with Reed's third field goal with four seconds to play in the first half to make it 21-9. The Browns held the Steelers out of the end zone for the third time in the red zone. The big play was a sack by Antwan Peek on third down. It was the Browns' first sack on Roethlisberger.

Neither team was able to move the ball to start the second half. Both teams traded punts on their first two possessions.

However, the Browns made a mistake on the first play after the Steelers' second punt and the Steelers made them pay. Lewis fumbled with 8:18 to play in the third quarter and Taylor recovered at the Browns' 38. Trying to get an extra yard, Harrison was able to pry the ball out of Lewis' arms. Roethlisberger wasted no time as he hit Ward for 19 yards to the 19. Roethlisberger hit Ward for the touchdown to make it 21-16 with 6:14 to play.

The Browns went to the fourth quarter with a 21-16 lead, but the Steelers took the lead for the first time as Roethlisberger ran 30 yards untouched for a touchdown. Roethlisberger hit Ward for the two-point conversion to make it 24-21 with over 11 minutes to play.

However, on the ensuing kickoff Cribbs misplayed the ball and was hoping the ball would go into the end zone. It didn't and he picked it up at the one and returned the ball 100 yards for a touchdown to give the Browns a 28-24 lead with 11:14 lead.

The Steelers had third-and-eight on the Browns' 12 and Roethlisberger ran over Willie McGinest  for a nine yard gain and a first down on the three. Roethlisberger hit Heath Miller for the three-yard touchdown with 3:13 to play to make it 31-28. The Browns used a timeout to look at the replay and then challenged the call that Miller dropped the pass. The touchdown was upheld and the Browns ended up using two timeouts on the play.

The Browns were unable to move the ball after the Steelers took the 31-28 lead and punted it back to Pittsburgh. The Browns stopped the Steelers on two short runs to take it to the two-minute warning. However, with just one timeout after burning two on the ill-advised challenge the Browns were forced to stop them on third-and-8 after using their final timeout before the two-minute warning. Roethlisberger was sacked for a one-yard loss forcing the Steelers to punt.

Cribbs took the punt and returned it to the Steelers' 38, but a holding penalty moved the ball back to the Browns' 33 with 1:04 to play. Anderson threw an incomplete pass on first down and then hit Jurevicius for a 16 yard gain to the 49. He hit Winslow on second down for a 13-yard gain to the Steelers' 38 with 27 seconds to play.  A short pass to Jurevicius forced the Browns to try a 53-yard attempt and  Dawson's attempt was short.

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