Pittsburgh Steelers end losing streak before short-week game - Kogonuso


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Nov 22, 2016

Pittsburgh Steelers end losing streak before short-week game

By The Sports Xchange

Pittsburgh Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey (53) points to the Dallas Cowboys defense in the fourth quarter of the Cowboys 35-30 win against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh on November 13, 2016. Photo by Archie Carpenter/UPI
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Pittsburgh Steelers free safety Mike Mitchell (23) and Pittsburgh Steelers strong safety Robert Golden (21) reacts after Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott game winning 32 yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter of the Cowboys 35-30 win at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh on November 13, 2016. Photo by Archie Carpenter/UPI
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Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Eli Rogers (17) celebrates his touchdown with Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown (84) in the first quarter against the Dallas Cowboys at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh on November 13, 2016. Photo by Archie Carpenter/UPI
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PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Steelers snapped their four-game losing streak in Cleveland Sunday and regained a share of first place in the AFC North. They are tied atop the division with the Baltimore Ravens, who lost in Dallas.
"It's really big when you have a win like this," linebacker Ryan Shazier said. "We'd been on a losing streak, so getting a win is going to really help everybody get into a better mood. We just need to get where we need to go and where we want to go."
Now comes the hard part for the Steelers. They have to travel to Indianapolis and play on short rest Thursday night.
The Steelers play the Colts in the final game of the Thanksgiving Day tripleheader. The Colts also are 5-5 and in contention for a playoff berth in the AFC South.
The Steelers controlled the time of possession against the Browns and had three drives of 15 plays or more. But all three drives ended in short field goals as they bogged down in the red zone with a variety of mistakes, including an illegal procedure penalty that stalled one of those drives.
"Obviously, you want to get the ball into the end zone, but you have to credit Cleveland for keeping us out of the end zone," said running back Le'Veon Bell, who had 201 yards from scrimmage. "We have to clean some things up from a detail standpoint when we get into the red zone. We got away with it today but other games we may not. We'll watch the film and see what we have to clean up. The details have to get better."
The shortest scoring drive of the game was 11 plays and resulted in a touchdown, but only when the Steelers scored with no time remaining in the first half after two Cleveland pass interference penalties in the end zone. The Steelers eschewed a short field goal attempt and a potential 9-0 halftime lead for a 14-0 lead after Bell scored on a 1-yard run and David Johnson caught a two-point conversion pass from Ben Roethlisberger.
"It was huge," Roethlisberger said of scoring a touchdown before halftime. "With coach going for it, we have to put seven on the board. We got eight there. That's just awesome that we were able to do that because we know we want that double score. Obviously coming out in the second half, we didn't score but putting points on the board before the half is great for you and demoralizing for them."
--Linebacker James Harrison set the franchise sacks record when he dragged Cody Kessler to the ground in the first half. He moved past Jason Gildon for most in team history and has 77.5 heading into Thursday's game against the Colts.
"It's awesome," said quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, a longtime teammate of Harrison's. "I wish we would have gotten it last week at home. The only regret I have for him is that he couldn't get recognized at home. He's one of the best that I've ever seen or played with. I'm glad he's on our side. He probably won't like me saying this, but he got a little emotional over it so it's pretty cool. He got a little teary-eyed. It's pretty cool. We all respect him a lot. We're so happy for him."
Overall, Steelers linebackers accounted for 4.5 of the team's eight sacks Sunday. Outside linebacker Arthur Moats had 1.5 and inside linebackers Lawrence Timmons and Ryan Shazier each had one apiece.
PASSING OFFENSE: B -- The Steelers passed for a season-low 167 yards, but the cold and windy conditions at First Energy Stadium had something to do with Ben Roethlisberger's day. He was 23 for 36 and registered a 74.7 passer rating. He didn't throw a touchdown pass for only the second time this season, but he didn't throw an interception either and got the Steelers out to a lead they never relinquished.
RUSHING OFFENSE: A -- Le'Veon Bell rushed for a season-high 146 yards on 28 carries against the NFL's second-worst rush defense. It was his second 100-yard game of the season. He had gone the previous five games without rushing for more than 81 yards. It was a bounce-back performance for Bell and the offensive line after rushing for 36 yards and 48 yards the previous two games against the Ravens and Cowboys.
PASS DEFENSE: C -- Cody Kessler and Josh McCown combined to throw for 246 yards, and McCown threw for the Browns' only touchdown early in the fourth quarter when he connected with tight end Gary Barnidge on a 14-yard pass. The Steelers have struggled allowing big passing plays all season and that continued on the first drive of the game when Kessler threw a 36-yard strike to Terrelle Pryor. On a positive note, rookie cornerback Artie Burns continues to take steps in his development. He recorded his second interception of the season to end that first Browns' scoring drive and remains the only Steelers defensive back with an interception this season.
RUSH DEFENSE: A -- The Steelers preached all week that their defensive woes started and ended with their inability to stop the run. The Cowboys ran all over the Steelers last week, including the winning 32-yard run with nine seconds remaining. Granted, it was against Cleveland, but the Steelers got back on the right track Sunday by limiting the Browns to 33 yards on 13 carries. By stuffing the run, the Steelers set up their pass rush and set a single-game high with eight sacks.
SPECIAL TEAMS: B -- Chris Boswell kicked field goals of 32, 33 and 22 yards to help the Steelers build a 17-3 lead. Punter Jordan Berry only punted three times, but he managed to get off a 57-yarder that helped keep the Browns deep in their end of the field. Overall, it was a much better performance from the special teams units after struggling in many games this season.
COACHING: C -- The Steelers stopped a four-game losing streak, but they had trouble putting the Browns away. Head coach Mike Tomlin gambled and won when he eschewed a short field goal just before halftime by going for the end zone twice with no time remaining on the clock after the Browns committed two pass interference penalties. The Steelers finally scored on a Le'Veon Bell 1-yard run, but it was an unnecessary gamble. The Steelers received the second-half kickoff and could have beaten the Browns without the gamble that needed the aid of two calls from officials. If the Browns had stopped the Steelers at the 1 the Browns would have had the momentum and would have only trailed by six after getting dominated for the first 30 minutes. Offensive coordinator Todd Haley has to get more out of his offense in the red zone. The Steelers settled for three short field goals against a Browns defense that is among the worst in the league.

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