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(Thursday, December 10th)
Final Score: Cleveland 13, Pittsburgh 6
Cleveland, OH (Sports Network) - The Pittsburgh Steelers continued their debilitating tailspin, as the defending Super Bowl champions dropped their fifth straight contest, a 13-6 decision to the rival and previously one-win Cleveland Browns.
Cleveland (2-11), powered by Josh Cribbs' 200 all-purpose yards, snapped a 12- game skid against Pittsburgh (6-7) and won for the first time since Week 5 vs. Buffalo.
Chris Jennings rushed for 73 yards and touchdown on 20 carries for the Browns, who entered the game last in the NFL in total defense and total offense. Brady Quinn got his first win as a starter this season despite connecting on just 6- of-19 passes for 90 yards with no turnovers.
"We didn't have any self-inflicting wounds," Quinn said. "I'm so happy for our team, our coaches and our fans. It's been a long time coming."
Ben Roethlisberger was sacked eight times and finished with 201 yards on 18- of-32 attempts. Rashard Mendenhall rushed for just 53 yards on 16 carries for a ground game that was outrushed by a 171-75 margin.
"To cut to the chase, we fell short in all three phases, quite frankly," Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin bluntly said. "We found more ways to not rise up in critical moments, and we lost the game because of it."
The Steelers are currently on the wrong side of the playoff picture, sitting 1 1/2 games behind Jacksonville for the final AFC wild card spot. They finish with home games against Green Bay and Baltimore prior to their regular-season finale at Miami.
On a frigid and windy night in Cleveland, the Steelers found themselves down 13-6 in the final quarter.
Browns head coach Eric Mangini appeared to give his AFC North rival a gift by accepting a holding penalty on Pittsburgh at the Cleveland 34-yard line despite Roethlisberger throwing an incomplete pass.
The move worked, though, thanks to a wide open Mendenhall dropping a pass over the middle, forcing the Steelers to punt.
A pair of Cribbs runs on third down moved the chains to kill some clock, but Pittsburgh got the ball back with 6:16 remaining at its own 21.
After netting two first downs, Hines Ward, who played despite being questionable with a hamstring injury, caught a seven-yard pass on 3rd-and-6 at midfield with under three minutes remaining.
A sack on first down moved the Steelers back nine yards, and on 4th-and-6, Roethlisberger couldn't get find an open receiver and threw it directly to Browns linebacker David Bowens, whose dropped interception did little to quiet a hungry crowd that began celebrating its snapped 10-game home losing streak.
"It's been a difficult season, but that doesn't change out commitment or resolve and we saw that tonight," Mangini said. "The thing I'm happiest for is the group of guys in the locker room. We all know how important the games against Pittsburgh are. We haven't been able to beat them for quite some time, and to be able to beat them is exciting."
Cribbs' 55-yard punt return near the five-minute mark of the first quarter had the Browns inside the Pittsburgh 10. Cleveland lost yardage, however, and settled for a 29-yard Phil Dawson field goal.
Early in the second stanza, Pittsburgh punted in Cleveland territory after Roethlisberger was sacked on 3rd-and-7 from the 41.
Midway through the frame, Mohamed Massaquoi caught a 37-yard pass on 3rd- and-13 that set up another 29-yard kick from Dawson.
Following a Pittsburgh punt, Cribbs went off tackle left for a 37-yard gain. Later in the drive, Jennings went around the right end and clipped the pylon to put Cleveland up 13-0 with 41 seconds left in the half.
Santonio Holmes' 24-yard grab and a roughing the passer penalty allowed the Steelers to get on the board before the break, as Jeff Reed was true from 27 yards out as time expired.
Reed's 42-yard field goal came with eight seconds left in a punt-filled third quarter.
This is Pittsburgh's first five-game skid since 2003...The Steelers had won 17 of the previous 18 matchups with their division foe...Ward ended with 21 yards on four catches, while Holmes had six grabs for 93 yards...Cribbs logged 87 yards on eight carries, 43 yards on two kickoff returns, 61 yards on a pair of punt returns and caught a nine-yard pass...The Steelers went 3-for-14 on third down...The Browns outgained the Steelers, 255-216...Corey Williams and Marcus Benard each had two sacks for the Browns.
12/11 00:33:06 ET
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