New quarterback--no difference.
Through the first 30 minutes, the Browns are still looking for a touchdown—or points for that matter.
The Browns continued to maintain their stranglehold on offensive futility as they went two more quarters without a touchdown and trailed 14-0 at halftime.
Meanwhile, the Steelers started slowly, but picked up steam near the end of the first half and scored 14 unanswered points to take a lead to the half.
Willie McGinest and D'Qwell Jackson knocked Ben Roethlisberger out of the game with 1:48 to play in the first half as they hit him high-and-low after an incomplete pass attempt. After a 15-minute delay in dealing with Roethlisberger's injury, Byron Leftwich, in relief of Roethlisberger, scrambled for an eight-yard touchdown with 32 seconds to play in the first half to make it 14-0.
On the Browns first drive, the Browns stalled at the Steelers' 36 and Phil Dawson was wide left with a 53-yard field goal attempt with 3:37 to play. The kick started on target but drifted wide left. The Browns were faced with fourth-and-2, but Crennel opted to try the field goal despite a 25 mile an hour wind. The Browns had the ball for 6:10 with nothing to show for it.
The Steelers took the ball after the miss and Roethlisberger hit Hines Ward for a 24-yard gain to the Browns' 33. A third down conversion to Heath Miller took the ball to the 20. On first down, Roethlisberger tried to hit Miller near the end zone, but Sean Jones stepped in front of him and thwarted the drive with his fourth interception of the season.
The Steelers took a 7-0 lead as Willie Parker turned the corner for a 34-yard touchdown run. Roethlisberger hit Miller over the middle for 20 yards to the Browns' 34. On the next play, Parker broke loose for the score with 4:07 to play in the first half.
Thieves: The Browns entered the game with 22 interceptions, second best in the NFL. DB Sean Jones picked up the team's 23rd in the first quarter. It was Jones' fourth of the season. DB Brandon McDonald led the team with five.
Flash Harrison: The Browns snapped it to RB Jerome Harrison on the second play from scrimmage. He picked up no gain, but WR Josh Cribbs took a snap later on the series for five yards. Harrison had no yards rushing in the first half, while Cribbs had seven yards on two carries.
J-Lew: RB Jamal Lewis entered the game with 908 yards, despite rushing for over 100 yards once the whole season. Lewis had 12 carries for 54 yards in the first half to give him 951 for the season.
Dave's a Go: P Dave Zastudil was active and booted a 46-yard punt on his first attempt. There was concern that Zastudil wouldn't be able to go and they signed a punter to the practice squad during the week. He punted three times in the first half.
No Rest for the Wicked: The Steelers started all their regulars, despite already having a bye in the playoffs clinched. QB Ben Roethlisberger and RB Willie Parker started along with WR Hines Ward and WR Santonio Holmes. The only Steelers not playing were out for injury reasons. Roethlisberger was injured with 1:48 to play in the second quarter as he was hit by LB D'Qwell Jackson and Willie McGinest. QB Byron Leftwich replaced him after Roethlisberger was carted off the field with an apparent neck or head injury. Roethlisberger was 9-of-14 for 110 yards with no touchdowns and one interception. His rating was 58.6. Roethlisberger gave a ‘thumbs up' signal as he was carted off the field.
The Drought: The Browns' offense hadn't scored a touchdown in 20 quarters, spanning five games. It reached 22 quarters as the team didn't score in the first half. The Browns have now tied the NFL record for 22 quarters without a touchdown.
The Gradkowski File: QB Bruce Gradkowski marked the fourth Browns player to start at quarterback this season. Gradkowski signed with the Browns on Dec. 2. He had not started an NFL game in over two seasons. His first pass was to WR Donte Stallworth for 12 yards. He started 3-of-3 for 19 yards and finished the first half 4-of-7 for 20 yards and a 62.2 rating.
Winslow, Dinkins Out: The Browns also played the Steelers with their top three tight ends from the beginning of the season out. Steve Heiden had knee surgery a couple of weeks ago and TE Kellen Winslow (ankle) and TE Darnell Dinkins (ribs) were inactive. TE Martin Rucker started his first game. He looked as though he caught a pass and then fumbled, but it was ruled an incomplete pass.
The Rivalry: The Browns and Steelers all-time series is 57-55 in favor of the Steelers, with the Steelers having won the last 11 meetings.