Steelers won the toss and deferred.
The big news to start the game is that Troy was in the lineup. On the second play from scrimmage, Ben Watson tips a pass and Troy makes a diving interception. Defensive Player of the F-ing Year right there.
The offense wastes no time. Ben goes play-action and hits Wallace down the seam splitting the two safeties for a touchdown.
For the second kick in a row, Suisham kicks it short, keeping it out of Cribbs' hands. Smart gameplan for the Steelers.
With Peyton Hillis banged up, the Browns keep him on the sideline and stick to the passing game, switching in Seneca Wallace and Colt McCoy. Ziggy Hood makes a Dwight Freeney-esque spin move and sacks McCoy on a big 3rd down near midfield.
Ziggy was all over the field in the first quarter.
Ben converts a 3rd and 7 with an out-route to Hines to get the drive rolling. Two plays later, Ben hits Wallace on a slant route and he turns it upfield and turns on the jets, blazing through the secondary and making it all the way down to the 12. Mendenhall grinds it down inside the 5 on 2nd down then Ben takes it on a QB sneak and gets the first down inside the 1.
RAISE SOME pounds it in.
The Steelers stuff Hillis then shut down a reverse, but McCoy converts on 3rd down with a pass to Watson. McCoy moves the chains again on a scramble then goes back to Watson, who is apparently the Browns only receiver. Cleveland gets lucky when Timmons misses McCoy then flings one that tips off Hillis' hands and Robiskie pulls it in for another first down, moving the ball into Steelers territory. The Browns continue their success on 3rd down, with McCoy hitting Massaquoi to get inside the 5.
Troy tries The Leap™ but McCoy scampers back away from it and Larry Foote makes a good play in coverage to knock the ball away. McCoy goes play-action on 3rd down but the tight end can't hang on. Field goal.
Mendenhall grinds out some yards then Ben moves the chains on a scramble. Ben hits Raise Some out of the backfield off play-action when the Browns forget to cover him and he rumbles down the sideline for 24 yards. The offense came to play, going right after the Browns rookies. Ben hits Sanders on a quick slant in front of Joe Haden and he takes the ball into the red zone. Shaun Rodgers is a moron and jumps offsides on 3rd and 7, giving us a 3rd and 2. Arians actually calls a run, with Ben handing it to Redman on a draw play and he takes it down inside the 5. Mendenhall grinds it down to the 1 on two carries, then pounds it in on 3rd down.
That touchdown moves Mendenhall into a tie with Parker and Bettis for 2nd on the Steelers single-season rushing touchdowns list with 13. The most rushing TDs in a season by a Steelers is 14 by Franco Harris in 1976.
McCoy tries to go for Massaquoi on 3rd down but badly overthrows him and Clark makes a diving interception. Clark brings it back to the 25
...but the call stands!
Ben goes play-action on first down and hits Hines on the patented Deep In across the middle. First and goal. Two plays later, Ben hits Heath who dives for the pylon and scores his second TD of the season.
The Browns start grinding things out on the ground with Mike Bell. The Steelers hold to a 3rd and 3 and McCoy throws up a duck that Anthony Madison pulls down for the interception. I love seeing Special Teams guys making big plays on defense.
The offense stays airborne, with Ben hitting Heath and Redman as the clock ticks down to 2 minutes. Antonio Brown gets in on the act on a WR screen, getting great blocks from Hines and Manny, taking off down the sideline for 26 yards, moving the ball into Browns territory. Redman makes a great block in blitz pickup, giving Ben time to step up and hit Hines for 8. A blitz forces a throw-away on 3rd and 2.
Suisham nails it.
The Browns look content to run the clock out, but after an incompletion on 3rd down they go for it on 4th and 1 and use their last timeout after the conversion with 20 seconds to go. McCoy throws the ball away twice then McCoy gets swarmed by Woodley and Foote, ending the half on a sack.
Best half of football the Steelers have played all year.
Ben comes out to start the half and finds Heath a couple times, with Heath moving the ball across midfield by plowing through a Browns defender. After a false start, Ben hits AB on an underneath route and he turns on the jets up the middle and moves the chains. Ben does his Michael Vick impression on 3rd and long but comes up a half yard short.
If you think the Steelers don't remember what happened last time they were in this stadium, you need to check your "Killer Instinct" meter. Tomlin doesn't hesitate to call the QB sneak on 4th and 1 from the 17. Ben converts then keeps things rolling with a play-action pass to Hines who makes a move past a linebacker and takes it inside the 5. The Steelers are out for blood. On 3rd and goal Arians gets tricky. Randle El gets a toss, turns it back and throws to Hines wide open in the back of the end zone.
The Deisel storms in and knocks the ball out of McCoy's hands for another sack. McCoy is able to recover the fumble. Gay makes a nice hit to break up a juggled pass on 3rd down. Punt.
Leftwich comes in for his first snap of the season and gets sacked. Jonathan Dwyer, dressing in his first game, gets his first NFL carry. Leftwich can't find anyone on 3rd down. Kapinos' first punt comes with 4:00 left in the 3rd.
Tomlin Like A Boss challenges a completion on 2nd down and gets the call overturned. On 3rd down, Woodley flushes McCoy and Anthony Madison makes a diving sack, becoming the 15th Steeler to record a sack this season.
Byron converts a 3rd down with a rocket to Randle El. Wallace gets a catch on a WR screen to get him over 100 yards as the quarter ticks out.
The Steelers pick up right where they left off, with Leftwich firing one to AB on a quick slant. The Steelers get the benefit of a personal foul to move the ball into the red zone. Dwyer plows it inside the 5 but the offense stalls out.
Suisham nails it, giving the Steelers their first 40+ game since December 20th, 2007.
The Browns pick up their first first down since some time in the 2nd quarter. Not that it matters, they still had their first team offense out against the Steelers second team defense. A facemask on Will Allen gives the Browns a whiff of the red zone. Cribbs throws one short of Robiskie on a wildcat play then Mundy breaks up a pass for Watson in the end zone. McCoy dumps one off to Watson on a TE screen and Mundy stops him inches short. McCoy sneaks for the first down. After a false start, Stevenson Sylvester blows up a screen play. McCoy goes for the end zone and some guy bobbles the ball, goes to the ground, and rolls out of the end zone. Official calls it incomplete.
Cleveland wastes their last challenge trying to buy a touchdown.
McCoy stands in under pressure and throws one up for Robiskie who comes back for the ball and makes the catch in the front corner of the end zone. The officials really look like they're mailing it in as one waves it off incomplete. After a conference they rule touchdown. That's the right call.
Cleveland opts to go for 2 and there are offsetting penalties, prolonging the Browns pain. Wallace comes in and throws it right to Ryan Mundy. Not that it matters since it was a 2-point conversion.
Dwyer comes in to grind with 6 minutes still on the clock. Leftwich hits El over the middle to move the sticks on a 3rd down. The Steelers keep things simple and get the youngsters some more touches, with Byron hitting AB on a slant to set up 3rd and 3. Dwyer can't quite pick it up on a draw play as the clock winds down to 2 minutes. Kapinos drills one into the end zone.
Rather than just run the ball and kill the clock, the Browns go to the air. Mangini shows he doesn't want to give up, going for it on 4th down then calling timeout after they convert near midfield with 33 seconds left. McCoy keeps throwing incompletions, making the game take longer than it needs to, but the clock finally runs out.
Can't say it better than that.
Epic fist pump.
Players of the Game
Offensive Game Ball: Ben Roethlisberger
Defensive Game Ball: Anthony Madison
Mr. Yuck Sticker of the Game
Mangini going for the 2-point conversion
Mangini going for the 2-point conversion
Really, there was no reason to do this. It just prolonged the game. Why not just kick the extra point? Was his job riding on not losing to the Steelers by more than 30? Yeah, that made no sense.
- 12-4, 3-1 in all four quarters of the season. AFC North Champions. #2 seed. No complaints whatsoever about that.
- Mike Wallace tied John Stallworth's Steelers single-season record for most 100-yard games with 7.
- Mike Wallace and Ben Roethlisberger's 54-yard TD hookup set the record for most 40+ receptions in a season.
- Rashard Mendenhall tied Willie Parker (2006) and Jerome Bettis (2004) for the 2nd most rushing touchdowns in a single season (13). He came up one short of the Steelers all-time record, set by Franco Harris.
- In one of the greatest defensive performances of the modern era, the Steelers held opponents to 1004 rush yards on the entire season, an average of 62.75 per game.
- Anthony Madison became the 9th member of the defense to record an interception this season. Ryan Clark became the 7th Steeler to get 2+ picks this year.
- Troy Polamalu should be Defensive Player of the Year. He finished 2nd in the leagues in INTs with 7 and made more big plays at key moments in games than any other defensive player this year.
- Enjoy the bye week everyone. Get ready to bring it against Indy, KC, or Baltimore.