We knew the Pittsburgh Steelers were going to have difficulty moving the football against the Cleveland Browns with Charlie Batch under center. Instead of collapsing in the final moments, though, the defense came through all game long. How did they do that? By forcing eight turnovers in a 20-14 win.
I questioned the Steelers' running back situation heading into the game, citing the fact that Mike Tomlin did not have a definitive No. 1 back, and that this was an issue Pittsburgh could not afford to deal with while also worrying about a new quarterback. First, the Steelers went with Rashard Mendenhall...but then he fumbled. In comes Isaac Redman to replace him...but then he fumbled. In comes Jonathan Dwyer to replace him...but then he fumbled. In comes Chris Rainey to replace him. He did score a fluky 1-yard touchdown...but then later on, he fumbled. Pittsburgh ran the ball 20 times for 49 yards, with their backs having four fumbles. They also fumbled two other times without it being a turnover.
You would have liked the Browns' offense to capitalize with a lot more points off of eight turnovers, but let's not forget that Pittsburgh still had the No. 1 ranked defense heading into this game. The offense dug Cleveland in a hole early when Brandon Weeden's pass was tipped and taken back for a pick six by Lawrence Timmons. The Browns did not turn the ball over the rest of the way, though. Weeden had a first-half touchdown pass to Jordan Cameron, and Cleveland went into the half down 14-13. In the second half, a 15-yard scamper up the middle by Trent Richardson put Cleveland ahead for good.
It wasn't just the running backs who turned the ball over, though. Batch was ineffective all game long, throwing for no touchdowns and three interceptions. Pittsburgh's eighth and final turnover came on a prayer lateral fumble to close out the game, but it still counts in the record books.
Cleveland played a very physical game defensively against the Steelers, and it paid off. Cleveland did survive a scare when Trent Richardson fumbled trying to ice the game. The referees blew the play dead to Cleveland's advantage, and Pittsburgh couldn't challenge because they were out of timeouts and the play happened outside of two minutes.
The other side story is that Brandon Weeden suffered a head injury late in the game and was taken to the locker room for evaluation. Colt McCoy entered the game and handed the ball off six times.
At the end of the day, the Browns beat the Steelers. Everything is officially right in the world again.