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Old 12-09-2011, 07:23 AM   #1
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Default Heroes galore; Steelers win

Heroes galore; Steelers win

Thursday, 08 December 2011 23:32
Written by Bob Smizik

What a game!

* A heroic, for-the-ages performance by Ben Roethlisberger.

* A near-perfect effort from the defense.

* Another breakout game for Antonio Brown

* A 147-yard performance from the running game.

And the Steelers almost lost. Came oh, so close to losing.

But they did not.

The last-place Cleveland Brown were 5 yards from a go-ahead touchdown late in the fourth quarter but it never happened and the Steelers saved their season with a 14-3 win at Heinz Field.

It was a memorable performance for Roethlisberger, who cemented his reputation as one of the best and most certainly the toughest quarterback in the NFL. The man is a warrior.

He went down in a heap late in the first half after his ankle collapsed underneath him on a sack. It wasn't a question if he would be return to the game, but whether he would play again this season.

He did. On the first snap of the third quarter. Noticeably limping, Roethlisberger was not up to his standards. He had difficulty just handing the ball off and appeared to be in pain. But what he had was enough.

After the Steelers stopped the Browns late in the fourth quarter, first with a sack and then with an interception in the end zone, Roethlisberger and Brown put the game out of reach with a 79-yard touchdown pass. Brown caught the ball on the 29 and outmaneuvered and outraced the Cleveland secondary for the next 71 yards.

Brown finished with five catches for 151 yards.

Roethlisberger, who completed eight of nine passes for 102 yards before being hurt, finished with 17 of 22 for 280 yards, two touchdowns, one interceptions and a 129.9 passer rating.

Not bad for a guy on one leg.

The defense gave up a field goal on Cleveland's first drive and not another point. The Browns moved the ball decently, but never seriously threatened until, following a Roethlisberger interception, they moved to the Steelers' 5 late in the game. But on successive plays, quarterback Colt McCoy was sacked and then threw an interception that was picked off by William Gay in the end zone.

Had the Steelers lost, coach Mike Tomlin would have had some explaining to do. He still will.

The Steelers had the ball first and goal on the Cleveland 2 early in the fourth quarter and leading, 7-3. Rashard Mendenhall was stopped on three successive plays. Rather than kicking a field goal to take a seven-point lead against a team that had not scored a touchdown all game, Tomlin went for the kill. He went for the 10-point lead and Mendenhall was stopped again.

Another Steeler with some explaining to do is guard Chris Kemoeatu, who was, unofficially, called for three holding penalties. Kemoeatu was pressed into service when starting guard Doug Legursky had to move to center when Maurkice Pouncey was injured.

The Steelers are 10-3 and off until Nov. 19 when they play their toughest remaining game at the San Francisco 49ers.
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