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Steelers-Browns: What we learned

The SportsXchange

CLEVELAND -- After a slow start to the 2013 season, the Pittsburgh Steelers are getting hot when the temperature on the field is turning frigid.

Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger threw two touchdown passes and the Steelers won their third straight game to move back into the AFC playoff picture by beating the Cleveland Browns 27-11 on Sunday.

The Steelers are 5-6 after a 0-4 start. The Browns have lost five of six games and are 4-7. The loss for the Browns follows a 41-20 defeat in Cincinnati last week.

"Two blowouts -- we're not ready," Browns safety T.J. Ward said. "I'm tired of losing in this manner. It's a little different and you have an opportunity to win the game at the end, but we were out of the game in the fourth quarter. Nobody wants to play like that."

Roethlisberger is 16-1 against the Browns since his rookie year in 2004. The Steelers dominated both sides of the ball in the game played with a wind chill of 1 degree.

"Two 4-6 teams fighting and scrapping to stay in this thing," Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said. "Obviously they're (the Browns) not out of it, but this was significant."

The Browns lost more than a football game -- starting quarterback Jason Campbell was knocked out of the game in the third quarter with a concussion on a strip sack by cornerback William Gay.

"Anytime you can get to the quarterback is great," Steelers linebacker Jarvis Jones said. "When you're pressuring him, making him move his feet and he can't complete a pass, forcing turnovers -- that's just as good as a sack to me."

The injury left Brandon Weeden as the only quarterback on the roster. By the time he took over for Campbell, the Browns trailed 20-3.

Gay returned an interception thrown by Weeden 21 yards for a touchdown in the fourth quarter to expand the Pittsburgh lead to 27-3.

What the Steelers said

"It was a great win today, but we have to focus ourselves on Thursday for Baltimore." -- Linebacker Jarvis Jones.

What the Browns said

"Obviously we were in a hole. It makes it hard to throw the football because they have the lead." -- Quarterback Brandon Weeden.

What we learned about the Steelers

1. The Steelers have given up 36 sacks this season, but when they play with a lead as they did on Sunday, they can keep Ben Roethlisberger on his feet. Roethlisberger attempted 34 passes without being sacked. He completed 22 for 217 yards and two touchdowns and posted a 102.2 passer rating.

2. Strong safety Troy Polamalu can still be a dominant player even when his tackle total isn't high. He made four tackles on Sunday but more importantly he forced two fumbles and recovered one of them. The forced fumble of fullback Chris Ogbonnaya in the second quarter led to a field goal before halftime.

What we learned about the Browns

1. It looks as though Brandon Weeden will become the starting quarterback for the third time this season because Jason Campbell was knocked out of the game with a concussion in the third quarter. Weeden started the first two games, suffered a thumb injury and replaced Brian Hoyer when Hoyer was injured. He was benched for ineffectiveness after two more starts. He is 0-4 as a starter this year and 5-14 for his career.

2. The Browns' pass rush has disappeared. The Browns sacked Alex Smith of the Chiefs and Joe Flacco of the Ravens a combined 11 times, but they did not get a sack in either of the last two games and lost both. They gave up a total of five touchdown passes in the back-to-back losses to the Bengals and Steelers.
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