CLEVELAND—Maybe, sub-zero temperatures bring out the best in the Browns.
Whatever the reason, the Browns put some serious blows into the Steelers' playoff aspirations as the Browns dealt the Steelers their fifth-straight loss and dropped the defending Super Bowl champions to 6-7 with a 13-6 win at Cleveland Browns Stadium in front of a frigid crowd.
Meanwhile, the Browns snapped a seven-game losing streak this season and a 12-game losing streak to the Steelers as they improved to 2-11 on the season.
The Browns beat the Steelers at their own game with 171 yards rushing and sacking quarterback Ben Roethlisberger eight times.
The Browns hadn't beaten the Steelers since Oct. 5, 2003 when the Browns won 33-13 in Pittsburgh when Tim Couch was the team's quarterback.
The Browns held the Steelers to just two Jeff Reed field goals in the win.
The Browns defense sacked 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.
Overall, the Steelers had just 216 total yards with just 75 yards rushing.
Josh Cribbs rushed for 87 yards out of the ‘Wildcat' offense and rookie Chris Jennings rushed for 73 yards, including a touchdown. Cribbs also set up two scores with a 55-yard punt return and a 37-yard run.
"Josh is outstanding," Eric Mangini said. "He's tough and he was able to do a lot of things tonight. It was nice to see, but it was not surprising."
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 Jennings.
The Browns scored first on a 29-yard field goal by 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 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 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.
The Steelers scored first in the second half as Reed kicked a 43-yard field goal of the game with eight seconds left in the third quarter to make it 13-6. The Steelers went moved the ball with a Roethlisberger pass to Heath Miller for 22 yards to the Browns' 45. Another Roethlisberger pass to Rashard Mendenhall for 17 yards took the ball 28. A five-yard pass to Mike Wallace moved the ball to the 23. Rookie Brian Schaefering sacked Roethlisberger to the 24 on second down and an incomplete pass on third down set up the field goal.
The Browns dodged a bullet early in the fourth quarter as the Steelers moved to the Browns' 34, but a holding penalty and a dropped pass by Mendenhall forced the Steelers to punt.
However, the Browns punted the ball back to the Steelers with 6:16 to play and the Steelers started at their 21. Roethlisberger started the drive with a pass to Miller for 11 to the 32. A first down run by Mendenhall took the ball to the 46.
On third-and-six from the 50, Roethlisberger hit Hines Ward for a first down to the Browns' 43. Roethlisberger was sacked for the eighth time by Schaefering and Kaluka Maiava just before the two-minute warning for a nine yard loss.
On third-and-19 from the 48, Roethlisberger hit Miller for 13 yards to the Browns' 39 to set up fourth-and-6.
On fourth down, Roethlisberger's pass intended for Holmes was batted down by David Bowens with 1:43 to play.
The Browns took over at the 39 and the Steelers had just one timeout thus the Browns ran the clock to eight seconds before punting. Reggie Hodges punt was fielded by Holmes, who was tackled by Arnold Harrison as the clock ran out.
Sack Fest: The Browns had five sacks in the first half and added three in the second half for a total of eight. It was the most recorded by the Browns since they had eight against the Texans on Oct. 20, 2002. 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. LB David Bowens sacked Roethlisberger in the third quarter. Rookie DL Brian Schaefering recorded his first sack near the end of the third quarter for the team's seventh. Schaefering and rookie LB Kaluka Maiava combined for the final sack near the two-minute warning. DB Eric Wright led the team with seven tackles, followed by 6 from Williams. Bowens and Schaefering had 5.
In the Cribbs: KR/QB/WR Josh Cribbs combined for 198 total yards. He was the leading rusher with 87 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 20 carries for 73 yards and a touchdown.
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 and finished as the leading receiver. The only other player to have two catches was RB Jerome Harrison, who had two grabs for 10 yards.
Modest Night: QB Brady Quinn was just 6-of-19 for 90 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions. It is the fourth game he has not thrown an interception. He was sacked once.
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. He had no carries or receptions in the second half.