The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

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November 24, 2013

Steelers roll along with win over Browns

CLEVELAND — Ben Roethlisberger made it a Sweet 16 over the Browns.

Roethlisberger threw two touchdown passes and beat Cleveland again as the Pittsburgh Steelers moved back into the playoff picture with a 27-11 win over the Browns on Sunday.

Roethlisberger connected on a 41-yard TD pass to Antonio Brown in the first half, and hit Emmanuel Sanders on a 4-yarder in the third quarter for the Steelers (5-6), who have turned their season around following an 0-4 start.

Roethlisberger finished 22 of 34 for 217 yards and improved to 16-1 against the Browns (4-7), who have lost five of six and seen a promising year turn into yet another miserable one.

Browns quarterback Jason Campbell sustained a concussion in the third quarter when he was sacked by cornerback William Gay. Campbell was struck in the helmet by Gay and his head snapped back and banged the turf.

Gay later picked off Brandon Weeden and returned it 21 yards for a TD, giving the Steelers a 27-3.

After losing to Minnesota on Sept. 29, the Steelers looked old, slow and a shell of themselves. Things didn't look any better when they gave up 55 points and 610 yards to New England earlier this month.

But with three straight wins, they're right back in postseason contention, where they usually are when the schedule moves into December.

Pittsburgh continued its dominance of Cleveland since 1999. The Steelers have turned one of the NFL's best rivalries into a laughable, one-sided affair, going 25-5 in the past 14 years.

One bright spot for the Browns was wide receiver Josh Gordon, who set a team record with 237 yards receiving.

Campbell's scary injury has Cleveland's season on a familiar slide. He was leveled on a blind-side blitz on third down by Gay, who came in untouched and dislodged the ball. As the QB lay flat on his back near midfield, Pittsburgh's Will Allen scooped the ball and returned it to Cleveland's 4.

Campbell, who earlier left game for one play in the first half after aggravating a rib injury was being checked by the Browns' training staff. Roethlisberger came over and gave him a gentle tap on the helmet.

A wobbly Campbell was taken to the bench and examined before being helped onto a cart and driven to the locker room. Campbell's head slumped as he was taken away.

Former starter Weeden, who twice lost his job this season, was booed at times, and went 13 of 30 for 209 yards.

One play after Campbell's fumble, Roethlisberger tossed his TD pass to Sanders, giving the Steelers a 20-3 lead.

Pittsburgh spent the rest of the game running the clock, pinning the Browns deep and clearing out fans in FirstEnergy Stadium the way they almost always do. When the game ended, the Steelers were cheered as they walked into their tunnel by a few hundred fans who couldn't have imagined them saving this season following their horrific start.

The Steelers scored 10 points late in the second quarter to take a 13-3 halfime lead.

Roethlisberger connected with Brown behind cornerback Joe Haden for the game's first TD..

Steelers super safety Troy Polamalu got the ball right back when he stripped running back Chris Ogbonnaya after an 8-yard run and the Steelers recovered. The Steelers got a 32-yard field goal from Shaun Suisham with 7 seconds left to open their 10-point lead.

Both teams moved the ball effectively on their first possessions, but had drives stall and settled for field goals. Suisham's 47-yarder gave the Steelers a 3-0 lead, and the Browns responded with Billy Cundiff kicking a 49-yard field goal.

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