With Charlie Batch at quarterback, the Steelers were expected to rely heavily on their run game this Sunday.
That was the case for much of the first, although the results leave more than a little to be desired. Jonathan Dwyer, Rashard Mendenhall and Isaac Redman all lost fumbles in the first half and the Browns turned them into 10 points and hold a 14-13 lead halfway through the contest. Things haven’t gone all that well when the Steelers trio have held onto the ball, either, as they’ve run for 33 yards on 12 overall carries.
The slant toward the run ended on the final drive of the half as the Steelers used Batch to move the ball down the field for a field goal. He looked for Plaxico Burress twice once the ball got close to the Cleveland end zone and it paid off even though neither pass was completed. Sheldon Brown was flagged for pass interference in the end zone on the second attempt, setting up a Chris Rainey touchdown run that he bounced outside after it looked like the Browns had him bottled up.
Pittsburgh’s fumbles helped minimize the damage done when Brandon Weeden had a pass intercepted and returned for a touchdown by Lawrence Timmons. Weeden has hit on nine of his other 15 throws, including a touchdown to Jordan Cameron following Redman’s fumble deep in Pittsburgh territory. The Mendenhall fumble, on Pittsburgh’s second offensive play. led to a Phil Dawson field goal while Dwyer’s miscue helped the Browns stay on top late in the second quarter.
Failing to get more than 10 points off the three turnovers already looks like it is coming back to haunt the Browns, although they will have plenty of chances to turn that around in the second half.