AP Sports News
|Roethlisberger leads Steelers over Browns|
|Written by TOM WITHERS AP Sports Writer|
|Monday, 25 November 2013 07:31|
CLEVELAND — Ben Roethlisberger plays for the Steelers. He owns the Browns.
Pittsburgh’s quarterback, whose long-term loyalty to the team he led to two Super Bowl titles was recently questioned, threw two touchdown passes and raised his career record to a mind-numbing 16-1 against Cleveland as the Steelers beat the Browns 27-11 to continue their unexpected turnaround after a 0-4 start.
For Roethlisberger, his latest trip to Cleveland was like so many others. An Ohio native, he treats his visits like homecoming games.
He was crowned king once again.
“It’s a home game,” he said. “So it does feel good.”
Roethlisberger completed 22 of 34 passes for 217 yards and didn’t get sacked once as the Steelers (5-6) won their third straight game and became a little more relevant in the AFC playoff race. With the win, Pittsburgh set up an important Thanksgiving matchup with the Baltimore Ravens (5-6), perhaps their biggest rival and a team they’re fighting for a wild-card spot.
A season that began with four consecutive losses and included speculation that Roethlisberger might ask for a trade and whether it was time for the Steelers to rebuild, has been revived.
“That’s looking back,” Roethlisberger said when asked about the team’s rough start. “I’m not looking back and I’m not looking forward. Right now, I’m enjoying this.”
The Steelers forced four turnovers, recorded five sacks, knocked Browns starting quarterback Jason Campbell from the game with a concussion and improved to 25-5 against Cleveland since 1999.
Roethlisberger threw a 41-yard touchdown pass to Antonio Brown in the first and connected on a 4-yarder to Emmanuel Sanders in the third, one play after Steelers cornerback William Gay blasted Campbell on a blitz and forced a fumble that Will Allen returned 49 yards.
The Steelers didn’t have a turnover, only two penalties and scored 17 points off Cleveland miscues.
“We are playing winning football,” said safety Troy Polamalu, who stripped Browns running back Chris Ogbonnaya late in the first half, when the Steelers scored 10 quick points to open a 13-3 halftime lead.
Gay and Allen combined to set up Roethlisberger’s short TD pass to Sanders and Gay put the Browns (4-7) away by intercepting Brandon Weeden and returning it 21 yards for a touchdown in the fourth quarter.
The Steelers are back to looking like themselves after going 2-6 in the season’s first half, but coach Mike Tomlin doesn’t want his team to rest now.
“Nice accomplishment,” Tomlin said, opening his postgame news conference. “But not a lot of time to admire our work.”
Here are five things we learned in watching the Steelers beat the Browns for the 18th time in 20 games.
CAMPBELL CONCUSSED: Campbell was unsteady as he wobbled to the sideline and had to be driven to Cleveland’s locker room after taking the hard hit from Allen, who appeared to get away with a blow to the quarterback’s head.
Campbell went 14 of 22 for 124 yards before going out. It’s hard to imagine him being cleared in time to play next week against Jacksonville. Campbell went out for one play in the first half after aggravating a rib injury.
HEAD HUNTING? Gay’s shot on Campbell will certainly draw close inspection from the league. TV replays show Gay, who came in untouched off the edge on a blitz, banging Campbell’s helmet and facemask with his left hand, causing the quarterback to fumble.
Browns coach Rob Chudzinski argued for a personal foul.
“I felt like he was hit in the head on that,” Chudzinski said. “They (the officials) didn’t feel that way.”
GORDON’S GRABS: On an otherwise miserable day, Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon provided some hope.
Gordon tied a team record with 14 catches and set a new mark with 237 yards receiving. Hall of Famer Ozzie Newsome had the previous record of 191 yards in 1984.
While Gordon’s numbers were impressive, the final score was the only thing on his mind.
“After taking a loss like that, it means nothing,” he said. “To me, it’s great and everything for me as a young wide receiver to get that experience, but if we can’t go out there and win, I don’t really care about it.”
PRISTINE PROTECTION: Roethlisberger left the field with his white jersey nearly as spotless as when he put it on.
He wasn’t sacked for the first time in 16 games as Pittsburgh’s offensive line did a solid job in keeping the Browns away from No. 7. Roethlisberger was only hit twice.
“I appreciated them keeping him clean,” Tomlin said. “They did a nice job.”
BOO BIRDS: Weeden, who twice lost his starting job this season, was greeted by boos when he entered the game. The second-year pro said he wasn’t fazed by the negativity, but several of his teammates defended him.
“For him, I think it would be annoying,” tight end Jordan Cameron said. “If the crowd is booing the quarterback for the home team, it’s never a good thing. He did a good job. He made some plays, and for being thrown into the fire, he played pretty well.”
Weeden finished 13 of 30 for 209 yards with one TD and one interception.
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