Steelers can thank the Browns

Dale Lolley says the Browns have only themselves to blame for allowing Ben Roethlisberger to get away from them. On Sunday it cost them. Again.

Until they prove otherwise, the reincarnated Cleveland Browns will continue to be a whipping boy for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

And what makes it worse for the Browns is that every loss reminds them just what an awful decision it was for Cleveland to pass on taking quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in the first round of the 2004 draft, instead making a deal with Washington to move up one spot from sixth to fifth to select tight end Kellen Winslow Jr.

The Steelers, meanwhile, who were in the market for a quarterback, were fortunate enough to have Roethlisberger fall into their laps with the 11th pick.

For all of the talk about and bravado coming out of Cleveland this week about how the Browns were going to get the Steelers back for last season's 41-0 thrashing here, the Browns simply looked like, well, the same old Browns.

And once again, it was Roethlisberger, who is now 5-0 against Cleveland, driving a stake right through their hearts.

Despite a first half in which he threw three interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown, it was Roethlisberger who pulled the Steelers out of the frying pan Sunday. He engineered four consecutive scoring drives to end the game and show Cleveland exactly what it missed out on when it decided to stay with journeyman Trent Dilfer at quarterback instead of taking him.

Working out of a spread offense in the fourth quarter, Roethlisberger finally got into a rhythm, completing 17 of 29 passes in the fourth quarter for 224 yards and two touchdowns.

It was vintage Roethlisberger, scrambling around, breaking tackles, making something out of nothing.

"That's just Ben being Ben," said wide receiver Hines Ward. "We know that he's always going to keep plays alive and as receivers, we know we've got to keep moving and get open."

Perhaps no play epitomized that as much as Roethlisberger's game-winning touchdown pass to running back Willie Parker.

The play was designed to go to Ward, but when the Browns covered him well, Roethlisberger started looking for other options. In the meantime, linebacker Kamerion Wimbley got around left tackle Marvel Smith and closed in on Roethlisberger.

Roethlisberger shook off a tackle attempt by the 245-pound Wimbley and flipped the ball to Parker, who ran into the end zone with 32 seconds remaining.

It was the eighth time in Roethlisberger's three-year career that he has led the Steelers to a fourth-quarter come-from-behind victory.

Winslow, meanwhile, wasn't much of a factor, contributing four catches for 36 yards Sunday. Sunday's game proved that at the end of the day, there really isn't a lot separating the Steelers and the Browns.

But the biggest difference is at the quarterback position.

Quite simply, the Steelers have a star at the position and the Browns don't.

That star, Roethlisberger, will continue to haunt the Browns for another 10 seasons or so.

And for that, the Browns have only themselves to blame.

© He may not be the player he once was, but Steelers linebacker Joey Porter is still the focal point of a lot of the anger from opposing teams.

Sunday was no different as Porter spent the entire pregame jawing with Browns, most notably Winslow.

Some would say it was too bad Porter and Winslow didn't fight the way he and William Green did a couple of years ago. Had Porter and Winslow gotten themselves ejected before the game, that would have been a win for the Steelers.

© That's not to say Porter isn't still good for a great quote.

After the game Sunday, Porter had this to say about the Browns: "They can't beat us. They talk like they're a different team, but they're not."

Think that one will be on the bulletin boards in Cleveland for the rematch in a couple of weeks?

© If there was any question about how important Troy Polamalu is to the Steelers' defense, he showed exactly how valuable he is on Cleveland's possession after Pittsburgh scored to cut Cleveland's lead to 20-17.

Polamalu had a sack, then assisted Casey Hampton in tackling Cleveland running back Jason Wright for a 2-yard gain before knocking down a Charlie Frye pass on a blitz for single-handedly force the Browns to punt the ball back to the Steelers.

He was also the guy that broke up the Browns' last-second pass into the end zone to end the game.

© Santonio Holmes is going to be a very good receiver in this league. Because of his lack of height he'll probably never be a great receiver, but the kid is really starting to get a feel for Roethlisberger.

And Roethlisberger is getting more comfortable with Holmes as well. Watching Holmes and Roethlisberger scramble simultaneously before Holmes' 20-yard touchdown catch was a thing of beauty.

© Believe it or not, after Sean Morey hit the Browns for a 76-yard kick return, they started kicking the ball away from him.

© Bill Cowher obviously has no faith in his coverage teams any longer. How else can you explain those final two kickoffs?

The Steelers would have been better served to just have Jeff Reed kick the ball directly at Browns coach Romeo Crennel on the sidelines and give Cleveland the ball at the 40.

Dale Lolley appears courtesy of the Observer-Reporter.


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