CLEVELAND – They didn’t look like themselves at all. Not with the turnovers, penalties and blown chances.
These weren’t the Pittsburgh Steelers of old.
And it had little to do with their 37-year-old quarterback.
“That was an ugly performance,” Coach Mike Tomlin said.
With their playoff lives in peril, the Steelers committed eight turnovers and third-string QB Charlie Batch didn’t do enough to overcome the miscues as Pittsburgh lost 20-14 to Cleveland, giving the Browns a rare win over their hated rivals.
“When you turn the ball over the way we did, you’re not going to beat anybody,” Tomlin said.
Batch, forced to start because of injuries to Ben Roethlisberger and Byron Leftwich, threw three interceptions and the Steelers (6-5) lost five fumbles, the last on a desperation final-play lateral as they fell to the Browns (3-8) for just the second time in 18 games.
Batch finished 20 of 34 for 199 yards, but couldn’t rally the stumbling Steelers the way Big Ben can.
“I have to put it on my shoulders,” Batch said. “We had a chance to win, actually two, and I turned it over. Can’t do that.”
Browns rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden sustained a concussion in the final minutes, allowing backup Colt McCoy to come in and finish off a victory Cleveland fans will savor long after this season ends.
Browns rookie Trent Richardson rushed for 85 yards, scoring the go-ahead TD on a 15-yard run in the third.
For one of the few times in recent years, Cleveland finally won a close game. And this one pleased new owner Jimmy Haslam, who had a minority share of the Steelers before buying the Browns for $1.05 billion in August. Haslam enjoyed not seeing “Terrible Towels” waving after the game.
“I’ve seen it the other way around,” Haslam said. “It’s good to see their fans leaving and our fans staying and cheering. It was a great win for us. It’s nice for me, but it’s bigger for our coaches and our players.”
It also sent president Mike Holmgren out on a winning note. After the game, the Browns announced that it was the final game for Holmgren, who has been replaced by new CEO Joe Banner.