Cleveland (AP) — There's nothing Super about the Pittsburgh Steelers anymore.
defending NFL champions lost their fifth straight and had their playoff
hopes sacked by the lowly Cleveland Browns, who ended a 12-game losing
streak against their bitter rival by beating the Steelers 13-6 on
Thursday night in subzero wind chills.
Ben Roethlisberger was
sacked eight times and lost for the first time in 11 career games
against the Browns (2-11), who extended Pittsburgh's longest losing
streak in six years and defeated the Steelers (6-7) at home for the
first time since 2000.
Pittsburgh's postseason chances are in
peril — if not over completely. The Steelers are going to need help to
make the postseason, a stunning freefall for a team that hit the
season's halfway point at 6-2.
Unexpected losses to Kansas City,
Oakland and Cleveland — three of the NFL's worst teams with a combined
record of 9-28 — have pushed Pittsburgh to the brink.
Jennings, who began the season on Cleveland's practice squad, scored on
a 10-yard run and Phil Dawson kicked a pair of 29-yard field goals for
the Browns, who snapped a seven-game losing streak, a 10-game slide at
home and beat the Steelers for just the second time in 20 games.
tried to rally the Steelers, but his fourth-down pass to Santonio
Holmes with less than two minutes left was knocked down by linebacker
When Holmes was tackled on a punt return and the
final second ticked off the scoreboard's clock, frozen Browns fans, who
were nearly outnumbered by Terrible Towel-waving Pittsburgh fans,
danced in the aisles. Several Cleveland players sprinted down field and
jumped into the Dawg Pound section to celebrate.
The win was just
the second for Cleveland's embattled first-year coach Eric Mangini, who
certainly helped his job security by beating Pittsburgh, something no
Browns coach had done since Chris Palmer nine years ago.
Cribbs, Cleveland's Mr. Everything, rushed for 87 yards out of the
wildcat formation, had 104 return yards and caught one pass for 9
yards. Cribbs picked up a big first down on a 14-yard run in the fourth
quarter when the Browns were trying to milk the clock.
Steelers managed to get the ball back with 6:16 left at their own 21.
Roethlisberger, who has broken Cleveland's hearts before, began working
his team down field with short passes. But he was sacked at midfield in
the final two minutes and had his final pass batted away.
Browns quarterback Brady Quinn completed just one pass in the second half and finished 6 of 19 for 90 yards.
went 18 of 32 for 201 yards. He had trouble throwing in the swirling
winds that consistently blew over 20 mph and the Steelers were never
able to establish their running game against the Browns' defense, which
came in ranked 32nd overall.
Cleveland's defense dominated the first half, sacking Roethlisberger five times and pressuring him on nearly every snap.
10-yard scamper around right end — the first TD scored by a Cleveland
running back in more than a year — put the Browns up 13-0 late in the
second quarter. With their defense stuffing the Steelers and the
temperature dropping, the Browns' lead seemed insurmountable.
the Steelers drove 58 yards in 41 seconds and got a 27-yard field goal
from Jeff Reed as time expired to close within 13-3 at halftime.
Reed's second field goal with 8 seconds left in the third brought the Steelers within a touchdown.
Pittsburgh was unable to put together a scoring drive in the fourth,
and now the Steelers find themselves in more trouble than they could
This is certainly not what Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin had in mind when he promised his team would "unleash hell" in December.