Roethlisberger comes off the bench to lead Steelers

The Pittsburgh Steelers ran free through the Cleveland secondary even with Roethlisberger in the game.

PITTSBURGH – Antonio Brown went off the previous week against one-on-one coverage, and afterward he smacked his lips and said, "I l-o-o-o-v-e one-on-one coverage."

So the Cleveland Browns were just being nice when they presented Brown and the Pittsburgh Steelers with just about the same defense this past Sunday.

"I l-o-o-o-v-e one-on-one coverage," Brown said after this game as well.

"We forced them to be one-dimensional," said Browns Coach Mike Pettine. And it was difficult to believe if Pettine was serious after Brown and Martavis Bryant ran free through the Browns’ secondary in leading the Steelers to a 30-9 win.

And, so, in that regard, yes, the Steelers were one-dimensionally eating up yardage in big chunks. Brown caught 10 passes for 139 yards and two touchdowns and Bryant caught six passes for 178 yards and one touchdown.

"I'm just so proud of the way the whole offense played today," said relief quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. "Everyone's going to talk about me coming in and playing, but I think it's more about how well the other guys played and adjusted to a new quarterback coming into the game. My hat goes off to them."

Roethlisberger, of course, gave way to Landry Jones as the starter during the practice week, but after Jones went down Sunday with a sprained ankle on the Steelers' second series, Roethlisberger entered the game. He threw 33 times, and often with a large lead in the fourth quarter, before finally taking his proverbial foot off the Browns' throat by taking a knee at the one-yard line.

"We had single high coverage all day," said tight end Heath Miller, "which means one-on-ones for A.B. and Martavis, and they did a great job of winning their matchups the whole first half and making big plays for us."

The Browns no doubt came into the game expecting a heavy diet of running plays. After all, they were the worst-ranked run defense in the NFL, the Steelers were the top-ranked run offense and the Steelers were starting a backup quarterback.

The problem was that the Browns didn't change.

Then again, they had cornerback Joe Haden and strong safety Donte Whitner out with concussions, and last year's first-round pick, cornerback Justin Gilbert, was de-activated before the game because Pettine said he "wanted to get Charles Gaines some work."

Always good for a rookie sixth-rounder.

But when Roethlisberger entered the game, the Browns stuck to their run-stuffing plan.

"We played the run very well," said Browns linebacker Paul Kruger. "We just allowed other things to cause a struggle in different areas of the game."

As Browns cornerback Pierre Desire said, "We really did not change what we were doing."

It actually left Roethlisberger – who came off the bench to pass for 379 yards – with some regret.

"I wish I could go back," he said. "Left some things out there. We felt that we stopped ourselves a lot."

For Brown, who set team records the previous week with 17 catches for 284 yards, his numbers the last two weeks read: 27 catches for 423 yards.

The 27 catches are two short of the NFL record held by Clark Gaines of the New York Jets and Tom Fears of the Los Angeles Rams. Brown is No. 4 in the two-game total.
"I have no idea if he knew it. I didn't care," said Roethlisberger. "They said something about 'A.B. needs two catches.' I said I don't care. Let's just win this game. A.B.'s going to have every record known to man when he gets done playing. He's just a phenomenal football player. All his hard work pays off. But he's got to stop flipping in the end zone."

And that, as they say, is a whole 'nother story.

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