CLEVELAND—The Browns defense sacked Ben Roethlisberger five times in the first half and held the Steelers to just 75 net yards to build a 13-3 first half lead. In fact, the Steelers had 58 yards in the final 41 seconds of the first half on their way to their lone score.
In temperatures that hovered below zero with the wind chill factor, the Browns moved the ball and controlled the first half. The Browns had 179 yards in offense to build the lead with two Phil Dawson field goals and a rushing touchdown by rookie Chris Jennings.
The Browns scored first on a 29-yard field goal by Phil Dawson with 3:47 to play in the first quarter after a 55-yard punt return by Josh Cribbs. The punt was initially muffed by Cribbs, but he was able to gather it up and run 55 yards to the Steelers' eight. After a short run by Chris Jennings, Joe Thomas was called for holding and the Browns moved back to the 17. An offside penalty on the Steelers and two incomplete passes set up the field goal.
Dawson kicked his second field goal from 29 yards out with 7:20 to play in the first half to give the Browns a 6-0 lead. The Browns went 36 yards in seven plays on the drive.
After stopping the Steelers at their 11, the Browns started at the Steelers' 48 after a short punt. Quinn hit Mohamed Massaquoi on a quick slant for 37 yards to the Steelers' 14 on third-and-13. The Browns could get only one more yard and settled for their second field goal.
The Browns increased their lead just before the half to 13-0 as Chris Jennings scored from 10 yards out with 41 seconds to play. It was the first rushing touchdown by a Browns running back this season and the first of Jennings' career. The Browns started on their 26 and the drive was jump started by a 37-yard run by Cribbs on third-and-4 to the Steelers' 30.
Jennings ran around left end for eight yards on first down to the 22 and one on second down. On third down, Quinn picked up the first down to the 19 on a sneak.
Jennings had a nine-yard run to the 10 and then went around right end for the score. The Browns went 74 yards on eight plays in 3:35.
The Steelers offense received some life near the end of the first half and got on the scoreboard as time expired to make it 13-3 on a 27-yard Jeff Reed field goal. The Steelers went 58 yards in just 41 seconds.
After the Browns touchdown, the Steelers started at their own 33 and Roethlisberger his Santonio Holmes for 24 yards to the Browns' 35. A personal foul on Marcus Benard moved the ball to the 20 with 15 seconds to play. Another pass to Holmes for 11 yards moved the ball to the nine with seven seconds left. After an incomplete pass, Reed kicked the field goal as time expired.
In the Cribbs: KR/QB/WR Josh Cribbs was the leading rusher with 64 yards on four carries. He also had a 55-yard punt return to set up the first score. His 37-yard run set up the Browns first touchdown.
Jennings Time: RB Chris Jennings scored the Browns first touchdown by a running back this season. It was also the first TD of Jennings' career. He had five carries for 29 yards.
Field Position: The Browns kept the Steelers from starting in good field position. On Pittsburgh's first four possessions, they started at their own 15, 6, 23 and 7. Meanwhile, the Browns started at their 34, 38, Pittsburgh 8, 11 and Pittsburgh 48. The Steelers had their best start of the first half after the Browns' touchdown as they returned the kickoff to the 33.
No Respect: The Steelers went for it on fourth down from their own 32. QB Ben Roethlisberger was successful with a sneak.
Nice Grab: New TE Evan Moore continued to impress as he made a nice grab of a pass from QB Brady Quinn to pick up 24 yards in the first quarter. On third-and-10, Quinn threw behind Moore, who made a nice one-handed catch to the Steelers' 38. The Browns were unable to move any closer and had to punt. Moore had two receptions for 34 yards in the first half.
Sack Fest: The Browns had five sacks in the first half. DL Corey Williams had two and rookie LB Marcus Benard had two. Williams sacked QB Ben Roethlisberger on the Steelers' first series from the nose tackle position. Williams started at end in place of DL Kenyon Coleman, but has lobbied for time at nose tackle since DL Shaun Rogers was hurt. It was Williams' third sack of the season. DB Hank Poteat picked up a sack on a blitz and rookie LB Marcus Benard had his first career sack to start the second quarter. Poteat sacked Roethlisberger at the two-yard line on third down to force a punt, which KR Josh Cribbs returned 55 yards to the Steelers' eight. Williams picked up his second sack with five minutes left in the first half and Benard sacked Roethlisberger on the next play.
Robaire Down: DL Robaire Smith injured his hip and left the game on the first defensive series. His return was questionable, but he was able to return on the next series. DB Ray Ventrone injured his hand and his return was questionable.
Jerome: The first three offensive plays for the Browns were to RB Jerome Harrison. He had a one-yard run and then caught a nine-yard pass for a first down before getting thrown for a four-yard loss. Harrison had seven carries for just nine yards. He caught two passes for 10 yards.