The Steelers hoped that they could survive this week’s visit to the Browns without Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown so that they could take on the Ravens next week for a shot oat part of the AFC North lead.
If they do, it will only be because the Ravens lost to the Chargers. The Steelers turned the ball over eight times and scored just seven points on offense in a 20-14 loss to the Browns. It’s the first time the Browns have beaten the Steelers since 2009 and the victory leaves a team called the Cleveland Browns in position to pull off their first season sweep of the Steelers for the first time since 1988.
They can thank the Steelers for delivering a good portion of what they needed to win the game. Cleveland turned the turnovers into 17 points and the Steelers turned the ball over on two of their final three possessions to allow the Browns to hold on for the victory. All four Steelers running backs — Jonathan Dwyer, Rashard Mendenhall, Chris Rainey and Isaac Redman — lost fumbles and Charlie Batch threw three interceptions as part of an effort that resulted in just 231 offensive yards for Pittsburgh. The injured players can’t back soon enough for the Steelers, who have two touchdowns in two-plus games since Roethlisberger got hurt.
The Browns won’t get to enjoy the win without any concerns for the future. Quarterback Brandon Weeden left the game with a head injury and is being evaluated for a concussion. Colt McCoy replaced him, but just handed the ball off to Trent Richardson to kill the clock. One of those carries almost resulted in a disaster for Cleveland as the Steelers appeared to yank the ball away before Richardson was down. The officials ruled his forward progress had been stopped, a call that is not reviewable via instant replay.
The Steelers couldn’t have called for one anyway, they were out of timeouts, and the Browns were able to run the clock out on the win.