8 is enough: Browns beat turnover-plagued SteelersPublished 1:17am Monday, November 26, 2012
CLEVELAND (AP) — As Browns linebacker D’Qwell Jackson walked across the field, he noticed saw something different in the faces of Pittsburgh’s players.
They weren’t just upset Sunday following a 20-14 to Cleveland, the rival they’re accustomed to walking all over. The Steelers were deeply pained, disturbed, angry.
For once, things didn’t go their way.
“A lot of them didn’t want to shake our hands,” Jackson said, “and I’m OK with that.”
With their defense forcing eight turnovers, the Browns shook off a brutal start and finally came out on the winning side of a close game, beating the Steelers for just the second time in 18 games and giving new owner Jimmy Haslam a win over an NFL franchise he plans to use as a model for Cleveland.
“We want to re-establish the rivalry,” said Haslam, who still owns a minority share in the Steelers. “This is a great place to start.”
The Steelers (6-5) had to start 37-year quarterback Charlie Batch. They were missing safety Troy Polamalu and Pittsburgh was forced to sign 35-year-old wide receiver Plaxico Burress off the street this week because of injuries. But that hardly mattered to the Browns (3-8), who gave their fans something to savor in what has been another miserable season.
“I love to beat those guys,” Jackson said. “I don’t like them. They don’t like us. It’s great to beat up on them.”
With their playoff lives in peril, the Steelers kept turning the ball over and Batch didn’t do nearly enough to overcome the miscues.
“When you turn the ball over the way we did, you’re not going to beat anybody,” Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said. “We were highly penalized. When you do those things, you’re going to lose I don’t care who is playing quarterback.”
Batch, forced to start because of injuries to Ben Roethlisberger and Byron Leftwich, threw three interceptions and the Steelers lost five fumbles, the last on a desperation final-play lateral. The Browns’ eight takeaways were the most by any team since 2001, when New Orleans forced eight against St. Louis.
Many of Cleveland’s young players got their first taste of the Steelers-Browns rivalry and found it pleasing.
“One game never counts more than another one, but our biggest game every year is against the Steelers,” Pro Bowl tackle Joe Thomas said. “They’re our biggest rival. They’re in our division. To get a win against them is awesome.”
But the win came with some cost.
Browns rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden sustained a concussion in the final minutes, when he banged his head while falling awkwardly after an incompletion. Backup Colt McCoy, who suffered a concussion when the teams met late last season, came in and finished off the win without attempting a pass.
Coach Pat Shurmur said he spoke with the 29-year-old Weeden after the game.
“He’s good,” Shurmur said. “We had a good conversation. He’s being treated for a concussion, and we’ll see where that goes. Some guys come back quickly, some guys don’t.”
Browns rookie Trent Richardson rushed for 85 yards, scoring the go-ahead TD on a 15-yard run in the third.
Cleveland’s win also sent president Mike Holmgren out on a winning note. After the game, the Browns announced that it was the final game for Holmgren, who has been replaced by CEO Joe Banner. The Browns went just 12-31 under Holmgren, but at least one of those wins came against the Steelers.
Once one of the NFL’s fiercest rivalries, the Steeler-Browns conflict has been shaded in yellow and black for most of the past decade. Even with the loss, Pittsburgh is 23-5 against Cleveland since 1999, but in each of the seasons they lost one game to the Browns, the Steelers missed the playoffs.
That could happen again. Pittsburgh is tied with Cincinnati for second place in the AFC North behind Baltimore, and will visit the Ravens next week.
“We aren’t going to have any team meetings, not going to sit in a circle and sing ‘Kumbaya’ or anything like that,” safety Ryan Clark said. “We are going to do what we do after we win a game — go back to work and figure out a way to play better.”
Phil Dawson kicked field goals of 28 and 32 yards for the Browns, and has made 27 in a row since last season, tying his team record.
Cleveland’s fourth takeaway, a pick by cornerback Sheldon Brown, set up Richardson’s TD for the game’s final points.
It didn’t start so good for the Browns. Weeden’s third pass was tipped and intercepted by linebacker Lawrence Timmons, who returned it 53 yards for a touchdown.
Just 71 seconds in, the Browns were down but not out.
Jackson saw something then in his teammates — determination.
“There wasn’t guys with panicked faces,” he said. “Everyone in the stadium could have thought, ‘OK, here we go again.’ But guys kept fighting and we made the plays at the end.”
NOTES: The Browns’ five fumble recoveries are their most since 1989. … The Steelers gained just 49 rushing yards and were 1 of 9 on third downs, the lowest total by a Cleveland opponent since 2006. … Tomlin dropped to 9-2 against Browns. … Richardson’s 6 rushing TDs are the most by a Browns rookie since William Green (6) in 2002.
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