It's Ben Or Bust

Mike Prisuta went to Cleveland to find out the Steelers need Ben Roethlisberger at quarterback.

CLEVELAND – Ben Roethlisberger watched it between grimaces.

"It hurts, obviously," Roethlisberger said while exiting the visitor's locker room after watching his team turn the ball over eight times in a 20-14 loss to the Browns on Sunday afternoon.

His return for Baltimore this coming Sunday would inspire some hope for a team that's seemingly fresh out right about now, but on that score Big Ben was less revealing.

He didn't rule himself out, but he didn't rule himself in, either.

"I honestly don't know," Roethlisberger said. "We'll evaluate every day. I honestly don't know anything, truthfully."

In the meantime, the Steelers have no choice but to forge ahead, even as they continue to take on water.

Offensive tackle Mike Adams left the locker room with his left foot in a walking boot.

On the bright side – relatively speaking – the Steelers had been hopeful Willie Colon would be able to play against the Browns until the pregame warm-up on Sunday, so perhaps Colon will be a go against the Ravens.

And LaMarr Woodley (ankle) said he's playing after making just a cameo appearance against the Browns.

What took place at Cleveland Browns Stadium also confirmed why the coaching staff had Byron Leftwich positioned ahead of Charlie Batch in the pecking order all along this season. Any potential concerns about the Steelers' ability to accurately evaluate personnel, thus, ought to be alleviated.

So much for the feel-good portion of the postmortem, such as it was, here in beautiful, sunny Northeast Ohio.

The defense did its thing again, holding an opponent to less than 170 yards passing for the sixth consecutive game and for the eighth time this season, registering a pick-six and collecting a season-high four sacks.

But that said the game changed, irreversibly, as it turned out, on a play made by Browns cornerback Sheldon Brown, one that was oh-so-similar to plays Ike Taylor couldn't make on two separate occasions.

That and the 15-yard touchdown run by Trent Richardson that followed Brown's third-quarter interception kept the defense culpable on a day when the offense was downright pungent.

"We needed one more play," safety Ryan Clark maintained. "We needed to do something else to help out our offense and we didn't.

"I missed a big tackle on Trent's touchdown. Maybe if we force a field goal the offense can have a different mindset in the way that they drive the ball, not trying to get a touchdown."

Remember earlier this season when Colon told Taylor, in effect, that the offense would carry the team until the defense got it together?

The Steelers are back now in the much more familiar position of needing the defense not just to slam the door on opponents in terms of total net yards allowed and the like but also of needing the defense to do what's required for the offense not to have to feel so much pressure to cross the goal line more than once a game.

If Sunday's turnover fest didn't embarrass what's left of the offense in Roethlisberger's wake, Clark's assessment surely ought to.

About the only thing that unit didn't lose on Sunday was hope.

"We'll find a way," Roethlisberger offered.

In lieu of any actual supporting evidence, we'll have to take him at his word.

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