Cleveland— In a game that general manager Phil Savage termed a very critical game, the Browns showed little fire power as they dropped their 10th straight to the Steelers, 10-6 in front of a national television audience. The teams battled in hurricane-type winds with not much offense.
In fact, the Browns have scored just one touchdown in their first two games as they fall to 0-2. Meanwhile, the Steelers are 2-0.
The Browns ineptness in the red zone cost them dearly as they turned the ball over once and settled for field goals on the other two times they were there. The Browns went for a field goal with 3:21 to play trailing 10-3 instead of going for the tie. They were relying on their defense to give the offense another opportunity.
The defense had played pretty well in the game couldn’t get off the field as Ben Roethlisberger hit Heath Miller for 19 yards with 2:57 to go moved the ball to the 49 for a first down. Willie Parker ran for another first down and with the Browns having burned their timeouts could do nothing about it. The Steelers moved to the Browns’ 21 and with 30 seconds to play had a fourth-and-four and Mike Adams tackled Parker for a loss.
The Browns took over with 26 seconds to play on their own 26. On first down, Anderson tried to throw deep to Braylon Edwards incomplete. On second down, Anderson was sacked by Aaron Smith and that was the game.
The two teams traded eight punts to start the game. They did so throughout a scoreless first quarter as Dave Zastudil punted four times for the Browns and Mitch Berger did so three times. Berger punted the fourth time to start the second quarter. Zastudil averaged 51.8 yards per punt into the wind. The Browns had just 26 yards in the first quarter, while the Steelers had 58.
The punt streak ended on the first play of the Browns’ fifth possession as Anderson tried to hit Edwards deep, but the ball was underthrown and Bryant McFadden intercepted it. McFadden was starting over the injured Deshea Townsend.
The Steelers took the ball and moved 70 yards in 12 plays, consuming 6:29 to take a 7-0 lead as Roethlisberger hit Hines Wards with an 11-yard touchdown pass. The Browns committed two big penalties totaling 20 yards to aid the drive. Shaun Rogers jumped offside and Shaun Smith grabbed Roethlisberger’s face mask after a sack. The Steelers were faced with a fourth-and-one and they elected to go for it at the Browns’ 40 and they converted as Willie Parker had a 13-yard run.
Roethlisberger hit Santonio Holmes for 15 yards to the Browns’ 12. Hines Ward dropped a pass in the end zone after being hit by Brodney Pool. Roethlisberger then hit Ward for the score with 6:26 to play in the first half.
The Browns had their best drive of the first half after the Steelers scored, but blew a scoring opportunity to end the half as Anderson threw his second interception of the half. Starting at their own 19, the Browns drove to the Steeler’s 11 before turning the ball over.
Joshua Cribbs converted a first down on third down. Anderson then hit Jamal Lewis for a 13-yard gain on a short pass. He then hit Kellen Winslow for a 19-yard gain to the Steelers’ 30. A short run by Anderson and a penalty moved the ball to the 21. A short pass to Winslow moved the ball to the 16.
An illegal shift penalty moved the ball back to the 21 before Anderson Jason Wright for a gain to the 11. Anderson took the ball for the first down, but the Browns were tardy in calling a timeout and had the ball at the eight with just eight seconds to play in the first half. Anderson tried to hit Syndric Steptoe and Troy Polamalu stepped in front to stop the drive keeping the Steeler lead at 7-0 at the half.
The Steelers extended their lead to 10-0 with 7:58 to play in the third quarter as Jeff Reed hit a 48-yard field goal. The big play was when Roethlisberger hit Holmes for 48 yards to the Browns’ 36. The Steelers only had the ball for 2:18 but went 54 yards in five plays.
The Browns responded as Anderson hit Winslow for eight yards and then LaMarr Woodley was penalized for roughing the passer and the Browns had the ball on the 28. Anderson hit Edwards for a seven-yard gain to the 21. After an incomplete pass, James Farrior was called for taunting and the Browns got a first down at the 11. A four yard loss on a Lewis run and a false start on Winslow put the Browns in a third-and-12 situation. Anderson threw incomplete to Jason Wright and the Browns had to settle for a 31-yard field goal by Phil Dawson to make it 10-3 with 1:25 to play in the third quarter. The Browns went 12 plays and 67 yards taking 6:29 off the clock. They were aided by two personal foul penalties on the Steelers.
The Browns missed a golden opportunity as they kicked off and Rashard Mendenhall and Carey Davis got tangled up and muffed the ball. It was loose and Jerome Harrison had two chances to recover the ball, but it was knocked out of bounds at the two. After a stop on first down, Roethlisberger hit Ward for 33 yards and the Steelers were out of the hole. The Browns were able to force a punt.
On the first play after the punt, Anderson threw a screen to Jerome Harrison and he picked up 23 yards to the 43. Winslow made a leaping catch over Polamalu after it was tipped to keep the drive going. He then hit Syndric Steptoe for a first down on third down to the Steeler 35.
Anderson was sacked on first down by Aaron Smith for a six-yard loss. After a nine-yard pass to Lewis, the Browns had third-and-seven at the 32. Anderson hit Edwards for a nine-yard gain to the 23 for the first down.
Lewis carried for no gain on first down and three yards on second. Facing third-and-7, Anderson threw incomplete to Edwards. Romeo Crennel opted for a 38-yard field goal by Dawson to make it 10-6 with 3:21 to play. The Browns had the ball 7:29 in a 14 play, 60-yard drive.
Low Powered Offense: The Browns have scored just one touchdown in their first two games after averaging nearly 25 points a game in 2007. QB Derek Anderson was 18-of-32 for 166 yards, including two interceptions. He had a QB rating of 44.5 after a 22.4 in the first half. RB Jamal Lewis had 19 carries for 38 yards with a long of only 8 yards. TE Kellen Winslow led the team with 7 catches for 55 yards. Anderson was sacked twice.
Not Bad D: After giving up nearly 500 yards in the season opener to the Cowboys, the defense played better, despite not being able to get off the field late in the game. The Steelers had 281 yards in offense. QB Ben Roethlisberger was 12-of-19 for 186 yards and one touchdown. He had a QB rating of 113.0. RB Willie Parker carried 28 times for 105 yards and WR Santonio Holmes had five receptions for 94 yards.
Return to Prime Time: The Browns played their first of five prime time games with Al Michaels and John Madden on hand for NBC’s Sunday Night Football. Olympic Gold Medalist Michael Phelps was in attendance, as was conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh.
Sackers: DL Corey Williams and DB Nick Sorenson sacked QB Ben Roethlisberger on third down to end the Steelers first drive. The Browns blitzed and had several players around Roethlisberger. The Browns had no sacks against the Cowboys in the first week. DL Shaun Smith sacked Roethlisberger in the second quarter, but grabbed his face mask on the way down and incurred a 15-yard penalty. DL Shaun Rogers recorded his first sack of the season in the third quarter.
Trading Punts: The Browns were three-and-out on their first offensive series. The Browns longest play was three yards on their first three possessions. The Steelers moved the ball a bit but also punted after their first three possessions. RB Jamal Lewis had a five-yard run to start the fourth drive. The Browns first first down came with 2:24 to play in the first quarter as Edwards caught a 10-yard slant from QB Derek Anderson for the first down. The Browns punted for the fourth time after failing to move the ball after their first down.
Browns Lose Flip: The Steelers won the toss and with the wind deferred to the second half.
Cribbs Back, Hurt: KR Josh Cribbs was back on the opening kickoff, but with the wind at his back, K Jeff Reed booted the ball out of the end zone so Cribbs had no chance of a return. Cribbs had a five-yard carry on a third down in the second quarter to convert a first down. After a punt return in the fourth quarter, Cribbs was down and needed assistance getting off the field.
Pool, Wimbley, Hadnot Start: DB Brodney Pool and LB Kamerion WImbley started on defense, despite being on the injury report. It was Pool’s first action of the regular season. OL Rex Hadnot started at right guard in place of Seth McKinney, who started against the Cowboys in Week One. Pool made a big stop on RB Willie Parker on a third-and-one for no gain.
Dropsy: WR Braylon Edwards dropped a third down pass on his first opportunity in the first quarter. TE Kellen Winslow dropped pass in the third quarter.
Boomer: P Dave Zastudil punted 59 yards into the wind on his first punt. Zastudil averaged 51.8 yards per punt in the first half, all into the wind.
Injury Update: LB Kris Griffin injured his leg and did not return. Griffin had just returned from a elbow injury. DL Robaire Smith went down on Rogers’ sack with an ankle injury and was questionable to return. DL Corey Williams injured his shoulder in the third quarter, but returned.
The Express: Several members of the cast of “The Express” a story about Ernie Davis, who died of leukemia before he played a down with the Browns, were on hand for the game. Several players who were teammates of Davis with the Browns were on hand for a pregame ceremony that honored Davis, who’s number 45 was retired by the Browns. Those included Jim Brown, John Brown, Dick Schafrath, Bob Gain and Jim Houston. Dennis Quaid was also on hand. Jim Brown addressed the crowd briefly.
Inactives: For the Browns: WR Donte Stallworth, DB Sean Jones, LB Beau Bell, DL Ahtyba Rubin, OL Ryan Tucker, OL Scott Young, TE Martin Rucker and third QB is Ken Dorsey. WR Syndric Steptoe started in place of Stallworth and DB Mike Adams started for Jones. For the Steelers: WR Limas Sweed, DB Deshea Townsend, RB Gary Russell, LB Bruce Davis, OL Tony Hills, Ol Trai Essex, DL Orpheus Roye and Dennis Dixon is the third QB. DB Bryant McFadden started for Townsend.