The Steelers won the toss and elected to defer. Smart call. With the ability to kick with the wind, Jeff Reed could boot it out of the end zone and keep the ball out of the hands of Steelers nemesis Josh Cribbs.
FIRST DRIVE (Browns)
Three and out. Lewis was trapped behind the line. Short pass to Winslow, incomplete pass to Winslow. Zastudil saved it with a very nice punt over the return man which bounced to the Steelers 19.
SECOND DRIVE (Steelers)
After getting the Steelers into a third-and-five. Roethlisberger his Santonio Holmes for sixteen, with Eric Wright getting burnt on the quick pass. After the first, the Browns against got the Steelers into a third down situation. This time the Browns get pressure on Roethlisberger with Corey Williams and Nick Sorensen (and a cast of several) sacking the Steelers QB nine yards deep. Nice.
THIRD DRIVE (Browns)
Cribbs ran the ball back to the 19. DA then missed Edwards on the Steelers sideline and got a couple out of Jamal Lewis running behind Vickers in the I. On third and seven, Edwards was open on the 35, Anderson hit him, and Edwards dropped it again. Grumbling is heard in the stands.
FOURTH DRIVE (Steelers)
Steelers get better field position this time, starting at the 37 despite poor coverage. But as the rain starts to fall, the Steelers start to stall. (A couplet, oh yes). Two incompletions by Roethlisberger means the fourth straight punt is queued up.
FIFTH DRIVE (Browns)
The Browns wins up starting on their eight in the latest trade of punts, as they gradually back up towards their end zone. They need to dig out of this hole with 7:25 left in the first. Jamal Lewis gets three up the middle, and then one, as fans start to grow restless with the conservative play-calling. But this is how you use Lewis... he'll bang and bang and bang until he breaks one.
DA goes into the shotgun on third down, doesn't like what he sees, and calls time out as the rain falls harder. Anderson misses Winslow and the Browns punt again. This time, Zastudil is huge as kicks the ball out of the end zone to the Steelers 33. 5:52 is left in the first, as we go at a one-punt-every-two-minutes clip.
SIXTH DRIVE (Steelers)
The Steelers come out firing as rain blankets the stadium. Roethlishberger hits Hines Ward for a quick 19 yards, and then the Steelers get three from Willie Parker running left. On second-and-seven Roethlisberger has several days to throw, but Willie Parker is tightly covered (Brodney Pool makes his presence felt) and Pittsburgh goes to third-and-seven as the crowd gets very loud. The Steelers think the better of things and take a time out with the ball on the Browns 45 and 4:23 left in the first. Roethlisberger and Ward can't connect, and the Steelers punt again.
SEVENTH DRIVE (Browns)
Josh Cribbs bravery gives the Browns ball at their 18. Again the Browns run between the tackles with Jamal Lewis, who this time drives for five yards. The gain is wiped out due to a false start by Rex Hadnot. The Browns finally break through with a first down as Anderson hits Edwards on a quick slant for ten.
The crowd cheers the team's first down (there's 3:07 left in the first quarter). After a two-yard gain by Lewis, the Browns pick up a blitz and seemingly pass for another first down, but offensive pass interference by Syndric Steptoe calls it back. Fans start a chant indicating their disagreement with the call in no uncertain terms. After a failed pass to Winslow, the Browns are in a third-and-18 and an incompletion to Cribbs means it's time for the Browns fourth punt of the night.
EIGHTH DRIVE (Steelers)
Parker starts getting some traction, running for five and seven yards for a first down as the initial quarter ends.