Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Steelers looking like team of yore

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CLEVELAND -- Their horrendous start has long been forgotten, erased with an equally unexpected turnaround.

The Steelers are in contention, right back where they belong. The playoffs are possible.

Ben Roethlisberger threw touchdown passes to Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders and beat Cleveland for the 16th time as Pittsburgh, which opened the season with four straight losses, pushed deeper into the post-season picture with a 27-11 win over the Browns on Sunday.

The Steelers (5-6) have climbed back with a one-game-at-a-time philosophy they're not about to abandon.

"I'm not looking around," Roethlisberger said, quickly dismissing any post-season speculation. "It's all about focus. This game is over now. That's all we can control."

Roethlisberger connected on a 41-yard TD pass to Brown in the first half, and hit Sanders on a four-yarder in the third quarter for the Steelers, who only have a few days to get ready for a Thanksgiving game at Baltimore -- a matchup that didn't look as if it would be very meaningful a few weeks back.

Roethlisberger finished 22 of 34 for 217 yards and improved to 16-1 against the Browns (4-7), who have lost five of six and seen a promising season turn into yet another miserable one.

An Ohio native, Roethlisberger relishes beating a team from his home state.

"It's homecoming, you know, a home game," he said. "So it does feel good."

The Browns lost starting quarterback Jason Campbell to a concussion in the third quarter when he was sacked by cornerback William Gay. Campbell was struck in the helmet by Gay and his head snapped back and banged the turf. He spent several moments flat on his back in the middle of the field, a symbolic moment for the Browns, who were smashed again by their AFC North rival.

In his first season, Browns coach Rob Chudzinski has cycled through three starting quarterback because of injuries. He had to play Brandon Weeden again and may have to start the beleaguered second-year QB next week against Jacksonville.

Weeden got booed when he came off the bench and things got tougher for him in the fourth, when Gay intercepted his pass and returned it 21 yards for a TD, giving the Steelers a 27-3 lead.

"You've just go to laugh at it," Weeden said of the booing.

One bright spot for Cleveland was wide receiver Josh Gordon. He tied a team record with 14 receptions and set a club mark with 237 yards.

While losing to Minnesota Sept. 29, the Steelers looked old, slow and washed up. Things didn't look any better when they gave up 55 points and 610 yards to New England earlier this month.

But with three straight wins, they're where they usually are when the schedule moves toward December. In the thick of things.

-- The Associated Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 25, 2013 C4

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