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(Thursday, December 8th)
Final Score: Pittsburgh 14, Cleveland 3
Pittsburgh, PA (Sports Network) - Ben Roethlisberger played through an injured ankle in the second half to help the Pittsburgh Steelers jump to the top of the AFC North with a 14-3 win over the Cleveland Browns.
In the second quarter, Roethlisberger was sacked by Scott Paxson with under six minutes to play.
He got his leg twisted under him on the sack and was in obvious pain as he grabbed the ankle and put little weight on it as he was helped off the field and into the locker room.
During halftime, x-rays were taken in the locker room and came up negative and he came back out to play for the start of the third quarter.
"The doctors said he was ok to go and he said he was ok to go," said Pittsburgh head coach Mike Tomlin. "He's a competitor and you and I all know what he is capable of and he proved it again here tonight. The man can play football."
He appeared to be a bit unsteady as he missed a couple of passes on the first drive of the third, then was picked off with just over seven minutes to play in the fourth.
However, after a William Gay interception of Colt McCoy in the end zone, Roethlisberger hit Antonio Brown near the 35 along the right sideline.
Joe Haden, who was covering Brown, slipped as the receiver made the catch and Brown was able to race down the sideline, going inside then back out to get around another defender, on a 79-yard score with 2:52 to play and seal the win for the Steelers (10-3).
"He rejuvenated us when he came back out there on the field," said Brown. "He's a leader and he means a lot to every guy on the sideline."
The win for Pittsburgh, its fourth in a row, moves the club a half-game ahead of Baltimore for the top spot in the division.
The Ravens, who defeated the Steelers twice this season, host the 0-12 Colts on Sunday.
Roethlisberger finished the game 16-for-21 with 280 yards, two scores and an interception. Brown had five catches for 151 yards and a score while Jerricho Cotchery caught the other score.
"I just didn't want to let the guys down," said Roethlisberger. "Tomorrow I'll get an MRI and then we can figure out where to go from there. It was painful at first and I thought it was broke. Thankfully it wasn't."
After the game, Pittsburgh stated that its quarterback has a high ankle sprain.
McCoy went 18-for-35 with 209 yards and two picks for the Browns (4-9), who have lost their past three.
McCoy was impressive on Cleveland's first possession of the game as he went 4- for-4, including a 33-yard reception to Evan Moore. On 2nd-and-goal at the five, McCoy kept it himself and took it in for the apparent score, but the replay showed that he was down before crossing the goal line. After Peyton Hillis was stopped on a one-yard loss, Phil Dawson booted a chip-shot field goal for a 3-0 lead with 9:22 left in the first.
Roethlisberger was just as efficient on his first drive as he also went 4- for-4, adding a 12-yard run, with his fourth pass going to Cotchery over the middle and taking it in from 11 yards out for a 7-3 lead with 6:12 left in the first.
After forcing a Cleveland punt, the Steelers drove to the Cleveland 21, but a fumble by Hines Ward was recovered by Cleveland.
Troy Polamalu then picked off McCoy and took the ball to the Cleveland 10, but Heath Miller fumbled a catch on the first play and Cleveland immediately got the ball back.
The rest of the first half featured punts as neither team was able to do much and McCoy was sacked on the final play of the half.
With Roethlisberger back under center, Pittsburgh drove into Cleveland territory, but the drive stalled at the 36 and the team had to punt.
Cleveland also made it across midfield on its first touch of the third, but was ultimately forced to punt the ball away.
Pittsburgh followed with a 15-play drive, but came away with nothing. On 2nd- and-10 at the Cleveland 24, Roethlisberger hit Mike Wallace in the right and he took it into the end zone. However, the replay showed that his knee was down at the two. Rashad Mendenhall was stopped after a yard then lost a yard. Mendenhall was stuffed at the one again to set up a fourth down, which Pittsburgh went for and Mendenhall was stacked up to give Cleveland the ball back.
The Steelers held the Browns to a three-and-out to get the ball back at the Cleveland 38, but Roethlisberger was picked off by Mike Adams and he took the ball back close to midfield.
The Browns appeared poised to take the lead as they faced a 1st-and-goal at the 5. However, second down saw McCoy called for intentional grounding, pushing the ball back 10 yards. His next pass was short and Gay came up with the interception in the end zone.
"I wish I could have that one throw back," McCoy said.
Two plays later it was a 14-3 game and Cleveland was unable to put any more points on the board with McCoy getting sacked to end the game.
Pittsburgh finished the game with 147 yards on 28 carries, with Mendenhall having 18 carries for 76 yards...The Browns managed just 98 yards on the ground...Pittsburgh plays in San Francisco next Monday...Cleveland plays in Arizona next Sunday...The Steelers have won three straight and 15 of the last 16 against Cleveland.
12/09 01:31:45 ET