The Steelers survived turning the ball over 4 times on Sunday to beat the Cleveland Browns 27-14 at Heinz Field. The Steelers complied 557 yards of offense on the day, led by Ben Roethlisberger throwing for 417 yards and 2 touchdowns. Roethlisberger was 23 of 35 on the day and finished with a 113.6 quarterback rating. The two touchdown passes were in the second quarter to tight end Heath Miller and receiver Hines Ward respectively. Roethlisberger took advantage of the middle of the field behind great pass protection from the offensive line. Ward continued adding to his fantastic season as he caught 8 balls for 159 yards on the day. Miller and Santonio Holmes both chipped in 5 catches on the day as well.
Running back Rashard Mendenhall led all rushers on the day with 62 yards on 17 carries and Willie Parker, in his first game back since injuring his toe, chipped in 26 yards on 7 carries. The Steelers rushed for 140 yards on the day against the Browns 32nd rated run defense, but both Mendenhall and Parker each fumbled deep in Browns territory.
The Steelers defense put together their best total performance of the season and seemed energized by the return of strong safety Troy Polamalu to the lineup. Polamalu made his presence known in the first quarter as he intercepted a Joshua Cribbs pass intended for receiver Chansi Stuckey deep in Steelers territory. On the day, the Steelers forced 3 turnovers and sacked Anderson twice. Both sacks were credited to linebacker Lawrence Timmons. Timmons finished with 5 tackles on the day. Sunday marked the first time this season that the defense did not allow points in the 4th quarter.
The Steelers kick coverage had problems all day with Browns returner Joshua Cribbs. Cribbs returned a kickoff 98 yards following the Steelers second touchdown on the day. Cribbs totaled 132 return yards on the 3 kickoffs he returned. He also had one punt return for 26 yards. Cribbs was not only deadly in the return game as he also rushed for 45 of the Browns 91 yards on the day, most of which came out of the Wildcat formation.
The game was not as close as the scoreboard indicated as the Steelers move to 4-2 on the year and tied with the Cincinnati Bengals for the lead in the AFC North division as the Bengals lost to the Houston Texans. Next week the Steelers welcome in the undefeated Minnesota Vikings who knocked of the Baltimore Ravens just after the Steelers game ended. Left tackle Max Starks and backup offensive lineman Doug Legursky were dinged up in the win, but both returned to action and neither injury appears serious at this time. Several other players had some bumps and bruises and head coach Mike Tomlin will update their status on Tuesday.