Steelers-Browns: Pittsburgh Passing Game Punishes Cleveland

Charlie CoxCorrespondent IOctober 18, 2009

PITTSBURGH, PA - OCTOBER 18: Hines Ward #86 of the Pittsburgh Steelers jumps across the goal line to score on a first half reception ahead of Brodney Pool #21 of the Cleveland Browns at Heinz Field on October 18, 2009 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

The Pittsburgh Steelers returned to Heinz Field after last weeks victory in Detroit. The Steelers defeated the Cleveland Browns 27-14 in what proved to be a very important week in the AFC North.

With the Cincinnati Bengals and Baltimore Ravens both losing, the Steelers have solely taken the second place spot in the AFC North pulling within half a game of the first place Bengals.

A game that should have been a very easy win for the Steelers, started out looking like a struggle. The Pittsburgh offense managed hardly any offensive production, trading punts with the Browns several times for the majority of the first quarter.

Cleveland's run defense quickly made a statement after holding Pittsburgh's new star Rashard Mendenhall to only 14 yards in the first quarter.

Troy Polamalu's return definitely made an impact as he intercepted Cleveland quarterback Derek Anderson and helped spark Pittsburgh's first scoring drive.

Roethlisberger worked quickly as he drove 85 yards in 4:36, spreading the field to three different receivers in eight plays. Roethlisberger capped off the drive with a short eight yard touchdown pass to his tight end Heath Miller.

After another Cleveland punt, Roethlisberger worked 87 yards after hitting wide receiver Hines Ward on a 52-yard touchdown strike.

Cleveland kick returner Joshua Cribbs, who has always been dangerous to the Steelers, returned Jeff Reed's kickoff 98 yards to put the browns on the board to make the score 14-7.

With 4:15 left in the first half, Roethlisberger marched the Steelers down field in 12 plays to set up a 32-yard Jeff Reed field goal to make the score 17-7 into the half.

Derek Anderson and the Cleveland Browns answered quickly at the start of the second half. After a 43-yard strike to Muhammad Massaquoi, Derek Anderson hit his fullback Lawrence Vickers for a 1-yard touchdown reception to chip away at the the Steelers' lead 17-14.

The Steelers' continued where they had left off as Roethlisberger hit Hines Ward for a 45-yard pass to move into Cleveland territory. Rookie receiver Mike Wallace ran a reverse 21 yards into the red zone to set up a 2-yard touchdown run by Mendenhall.


The two teams then traded several turnovers as Roethlisberger was picked off and both teams fumbled twice.

After a Cleveland punt, Roethlisberger continued to stretch the field, hitting Mike Wallace and Hines Ward both for two 21-yard receptions. The Steelers drove into the red zone , but after Roethlisberger was sacked and a Trai Essex penalty, Jeff Reed delivered his second field goal of the day, this one from 39 yards out.

Derek Anderson proceeded to drive the Browns into Pittsburgh territory before he was intercepted by Steelers' free safety Ryan Clark.

The Steelers then drove to the Cleveland 34 from their own 1-yard line to run the final 4:21 off the clock to end the game at 27-17.

Roethlisberger played an outstanding game throwing for 417 yards and two touchdowns, picking up the slack for the running game which wasn't as strong as it had been the previous few weeks.

New found weapon Rashard Mendenhall managed 62 yards and a touchdown combined with Willie Parker's 54 yards in his first game back.

Despite defensive end Aaron Smith's absence, the Steelers' defense still played strong, especially in the fourth quarter where they have struggled every game this season.