PITTSBURGH – Ben Roethlisberger added to his burgeoning reputation as one of the toughest players in the game by returning from a gruesome second-quarter sack to pass for 280 yards and two scores – including a 79-yard strike to Antonio Brown with 2:52 remaining – to lift the Steelers to a 14-3 victory Thursday night.
“You can’t say enough about our quarterback,” Brown said. “It’s amazing to play with a guy like that who exemplifies that type of toughness.”
Not that Roethlisberger felt particularly tough after getting his left leg caught underneath Cleveland’s Scott Paxson midway through the second quarter.
“It was one of the most painful things I ever felt,” Roethlisberger said. “It felt like the middle of my leg was just, cracked … it felt like my foot was outside of my leg.”
He went to the locker room for X-rays while veteran Charlie Batch tried to fill in. The scans showed no break and Roethlisberger returned.
Roethlisberger completed 8 of 12 passes for 178 yards after the break, including the sealing touchdown to Brown, who caught the ball near midfield then beat Cleveland’s Mike Adams to the end zone.
“I’m proud of him and glad he scored because I wouldn’t have been able to make it down there if we had to run another play,” Roethlisberger said, laughing.
Roethlisberger will have an MRI exam Friday to determine the extent of the damage. The Steelers have 10 days off before a game in San Francisco.
Brown finished with five receptions for 151 yards and a score as the Steelers (10-3) won for the eighth time in their last nine games to move a half-game in front of Baltimore for the AFC North lead.
The Browns (4-9) lost for the 15th time in their last 16 games with the Steelers.
Colt McCoy passed for 209 yards but also threw two interceptions for the Browns. Cleveland receivers dropped several passes and running back Peyton Hillis managed just 25 yards on 10 carries.
Cle—FG Dawson 20
Pit—Cotchery 11 pass from Roethlisberger (Suisham kick)
Pit—A.Brown 79 pass from Roethlisberger (Suisham kick)
|Total Net Yards||304||416|
|Time of Possession||32:18||27:42|
RUSHING—Cleveland, Ogbonnaya 2-31, Hillis 10-25, Hardesty 11-24, McCoy 6-15, Cribbs 1-3. Pittsburgh, Mendenhall 18-76, Redman 6-35, Wallace 1-21, Moore 3-15.
PASSING—Cleveland, McCoy 18-35-2-209, Wallace 1-1-0-13. Pittsburgh, Roethlisberger 16-21-1-280, C.Batch 0-2-0-0.
RECEIVING—Cleveland, Moore 4-55, Massaquoi 3-44, Cribbs 2-38, Little 2-25, Norwood 2-21, Smith 2-19, Watson 2-11, Hardesty 2-9. Pittsburgh, A.Brown 5-151, Wallace 4-57, Cotchery 2-33, Johnson 2-22, Miller 2-11, Ward 1-6.