Too many times this year, the play of the game for the Browns came pretty early in the game, which is not a good thing for a losing team, especially one that on many occasions loses by a lot.
A couple times, it came at the end of the game, but it had a negative connotation.
Only this time, it was all good as the Browns ended a 12-game losing streak to Pittsburgh dating back to Nov. 23, 2003 with a 13-6 win.
On the strength of two Phil Dawson 29-yard field goals and a 10-yard Chris Jennings touchdown run, the Browns had built a 13-6 lead by the end of the third quarter. Actually, they had moved ahead 13-0 late in the first half, only to see the Steelers gradually eat into it.
Would the Steelers eat into it more, maybe to the point of scoring a TD and forcing overtime? The Browns were concerned about that as the Steelers took over at their 21 with 6:16 left for what would turn out to be their last possession of the game.
They got another first down when Rashard Mendenhall ran five yards on third-and-1 from the Pittsburgh 41.
And they got yet another first down when Roethlisberger found wide receiver Hines Ward for seven yards on third-and-6 from the 50.
That gave the Steelers the ball in Cleveland territory, at the 43. If the Browns were concerned before, then they were really concerned now.
But then came the play of the game, just when the Browns needed it most.
Roethlisberger went back to pass and was snowed under by linebacker Kaluka Maiava, who began the season playing special teams, and lineman Brian Schaefering, who was not even on the practice squad for the season opener. But the status of both were elevated with all the injuries on defense, and they made their biggest play of the season – and maybe the Browns' biggest play of the season – when they tackled Roethlisberger for a nine-yard loss back to the Pittsburgh 48. It was the Browns' eighth and final sack of the night, their most since 2002 against the Houston Texans.
There is no play in the playbook for second-and-19, so Roethlisberger instead tried to piece-meal his way to a first down over the next two plays.
It didn't work. The distance was too long and the plays left in the series not plentiful enough.
His fourth-and-6 pass from the Cleveland 39 for wideout Santonio Holmes was knocked down by veteran linebacker David Bowens with 1:43 left, and the Browns, for all intents and purposes, had their biggest win in a long, long time.