The Pittsburgh Steelers turned big defensive plays into offensive points and earned the AFC North Division championship with a 41-9 win over the Browns at Cleveland Browns Stadium Sunday afternoon.
Those big plays started early, as the Steelers had one in the first minute of the game.
On their first offensive play of the game, the Pittsburgh Steelers went over top to second-year wide receiver and the result was a 56-yard touchdown reception from Ben Roethlisberger. The Steelers enjoy a 7-0 lead with 14:17 remaining in the first quarter.
Pittsburgh safety Troy Polamalu set up the score when he intercepted rookie Colt McCoy’s second pass of the game. After a 14-yard completion to Mohamed Massaquoi, McCoy threw a pass for tight end Benjamin Watson. Watson tipped the ball into the air and Polamalu got the turnover.
It was Polamalu’s seventh interception of the season, which equaled his career high from the 2008 season.
The Steelers expanded their lead to 14-0 when running back Rashard Mendenhall scored a one-yard touchdown at the 6:57 mark of the first quarter. Mendenhall capped off a ten-play, 71-yard drive that took 4:38 off the first quarter clock.
Kicker Phil Dawson got the Browns on the scoreboard with a 19-yard field goal, but Cleveland still trailed the Pittsburgh Steelers 14-3 with 14:43 remaining in the second quarter of play.
Mendenhall scored his second one-yard touchdown of the game and has pushed the lead to 21-3 over the Browns with 7:51 left in the first half. Mendenhall finished a 74-yard, 11-play drive.
Later in the half, Steelers safety Ryan Clark intercepted McCoy’s third down pass at the 6:28 mark of the second quarter. It was Clark’s second interception of the season and McCoy’s second of the game. Clark returned the turnover 23 yards down to the Browns’ 22-yard line.
After a coach’s challenge upheld the call, the Steelers had a first-and-ten deep in Browns territory.
Tight end Heath Miller caught a four-yard touchdown pass from Roethlisberger and has extended the Steelers’ lead to 28-3. The drive was set up by Clark’s interception and 23-yard return.
Steelers kicker Shaun Suisham connected on a 41-yard field goal and extended Pittsburgh’s lead to 31-3 over the Browns with 90 seconds remaining in the first half.
In the second half, Antwaan Randle-El, a former college quarterback, took a pitch from Roethlisberger, reversed field and lofted a three-yard touchdown pass to Hines Ward in the back right corner of the end zone at the 7:18 mark of the third quarter.
The drive covered 77 yards in 13 plays and wore the 7:42 off the clock.
Suisham kicked a 24-yard field goal, his second of the game, at the 12:32 mark of the fourth quarter, extending the lead to 41-3. The ten-play, 52-yard drive took 4:52 to complete.
The Browns got their first touchdown of the day when McCoy found Brian Robiskie with a 20-yard pass near the right sideline with 6:33 remaining in the fourth quarter.
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