Nothing makes this Ohio boy happier.
“I love to come here,” he said. “The Browns had the 10th pick in my draft, and I went 11th, so it’s good to get a win.”
Close to home, he always does.
Playing with a separated shoulder in 60 mph gusts, Roethlisberger threw an 11-yard touchdown pass to Hines Ward as the Pittsburgh Steelers made it 10 straight wins over their closest rival, beating the Browns 10-6 on Sunday night to extend the NFL’s longest current winning streak between two teams.
As is their way, the Steelers wrecked Cleveland’s return to prime time after a five-year hiatus. Pittsburgh has won eight in a row in Cleveland, 16 of 17 in the series and 23 of 26 in a rivalry that has been one-sided since the days Roethlisberger was learning how to throw a football as a kid in Findlay, Ohio.
During the game, it was disclosed on TV that Roethlisberger sustained a separated shoulder last week in a win over Houston. But Big Ben didn’t seem bothered as he completed 12 of 19 for 186 yards and improved to 10-0 in NFL games in his home state. The Cincinnati Bengals haven’t had any luck in their stadium against him either.
Steelers coach Mike Tomlin didn’t deny the reports about Roethlisberger’s shoulder.
“They know more that I did,” he said. “That’s good television, I guess. He’s hurting pretty bad, but he’s a tough character. Is he 100 percent? No. But no one plays as hard as he does without getting banged up.”
Roethlisberger refused to discuss his injury. He wore a glove on his right hand to help him throw tight spirals through the remnants of Hurricane Ike.
“I’m from Ohio, I’ve played in windy conditions before,” he said. “That might be at times the gustiest I’ve ever played in.”
Jeff Reed kicked a 48-yard field goal in tricky conditions and the Steelers held off a late rally by the Browns (0-2), who were hoping this would be the year they finally challenged Pittsburgh for supremacy in the AFC North.
Phil Dawson kicked field goals of 31 and 38 yards, the second one with 3:21 left to pull the Browns to 10-6.
Browns coach Romeo Crennel was counting on his defense getting the ball back, but Roethlisberger, as he has always done against Cleveland, came up with the big play. He scrambled from pressure to buy some time and rifled a 19-yard pass to Heath Miller for a first down at midfield.
Willie Parker broke free on a 19-yard run and the Steelers ran out all but the final 26 seconds. Parker finished with 28 carries for 105 yards.
The Browns got the ball back at the end, but Anderson threw two incompletions and was sacked.
“We are inches away from beating these guys,” Browns tight end Kellen Winslow said. “Big Ben just comes up with something every time. They are the best defense in the NFL. They are great, not good. We just want to win the division and to do that, we have to beat those guys.”
Cleveland quarterback Derek Anderson threw two interceptions, one setting up Roethlisberger’s scoring pass to Ward, and the second that ended the Browns’ best shot at a TD on the final play of the first half following some questionable clock management by Crennel.
“We shot ourselves in the foot,” Crennel said. “We screwed it up. The story of the game was turnovers and penalties and they took advantage.”
One play after dropping a touchdown pass at the front of the end zone in traffic, Ward made up for it with an easy grab for six points in the second quarter.
On third-and-9, Ward got loose in Cleveland’s secondary, and with cornerback Terry Cousin unable to catch him, Pittsburgh’s wideout had no trouble hauling in Roethlisberger’s pass for the game’s first score.
Ward punctuated the touchdown by kicking his feet behind him like a dog toward the Browns’ vaunted Dawg Pound section.
“I was marking my spot,” Ward said, laughing. “I didn’t plan on that. I get a kick out of the Dawg Pound, but they were saying a lot of bad things about me.”
The Steelers’ drive was helped by two penalties against the Browns.
Cleveland finally got its offense going and crossed midfield in the final two minutes of the first half. But with a chance to tie it, the Browns bungled away their first scoring opportunity.
Inside Pittsburgh’s 20, they fumbled a snap and were called for an illegal shift. Referee Tony Corrente explained that the Browns had the option of having 10 seconds run off or being charged with their final timeout. Cleveland elected to have the time taken off, leaving them with 44 seconds.
Anderson completed a 9-yard pass to the 12, and Cleveland’s QB quickly sneaked for a first down before the Browns called their final timeout with 8 seconds left. Rather than kicking a field goal, Crennel sent Anderson and the offense back onto the field.
Anderson, though, who needed to get the ball into the end zone threw short and the pass was picked off by diving safety Troy Polamalu at the 3 to end the half.
“Man, I was so mad,” Winslow said. “I had to control myelf right there. It was a huge turnover, huge.”
Last week, Crennel was booed for kicking a field goal in the fourth quarter with the Browns down by three TDs.
Browns WR Braylon Edwards had two drops and wasn’t available for interviews afterward. … Fresh off hosting “Saturday Night Live,” Olympic swimming champion Michael Phelps attended the game. A friend of Edwards, who worked out with him during the offseason in Ann Arbor, Mich., Phelps hung out on Cleveland’s sideline before the game before heading to a loge. … Steelers DE Brett Keisel left with a calf injury in the first half. … Browns DL Robaire Smith was carted off in the second half because of an ankle injury.