In a game with not much more than pride on the line, the Steelers were able to hold their heads up with a win over the Browns to end the season at 8-8.
The team was missing quite a few players on top of the already long list of injured. The in-actives list included recently named Rookie of the year, Mike Adams, CB Curtis Brown and WR Mike Wallace, who might have already played his last game in Pittsburgh.
The game started off slow and appeared it would be another rough one for the Steelers. The offense couldn’t get much rhythm going early but the defense looked like it was coming out to win. Early in the first quarter, Troy Polamalu picked off a Browns QB Thaddeus Lewis pass giving the Steelers the ball in Cleveland territory. Unfortunately, as has been the case so often this season, the offense could not capitalize and produced no points. On that interception, Polamalu became the ninth player in Steelers history to record 30 interceptions in his career.
Early in the second quarter, Browns K Phil Dawson missed a 39 yarder keeping the game with no score. The Steelers though were able to get the ball downfield for a K Shaun Suisham field goal and the lead. The Browns quickly tied it up bringing it to 3-3. Then with under 2 minutes to go, CB Cortez Allen, who has been fantastic the past 2 weeks, forced a fumble which was recovered by LB Lawrence Timmons, who has also had a great year. The team lost DE Brett Keisel on the play and had already lost CB Keenan Lewis earlier in the game to injury. At last, the offense capitalized big time with a 10 yard TD pass to TE Leonard Pope with 42 seconds left in the half. Steelers lead 10-3.
The Browns wasted no time tying the score, after they faked a punt for a first down, Lewis was able to complete a TD pass to Greg Little. Roethlisberger and the offense answered quick when Ben hit WR Antonio Brown for a 9 yard TD to take the lead. Tempers had been flaring all day and came to a boil with the Browns drawing 2 personal fouls after the touchdown.
In the fourth quarter, Cortez Allen wasn’t finished with taking the ball from the Browns. He forced another fumble and recovered it. The play was reviewed and upheld. That turnover was the fifth in 2 games for Allen, who has been filling in for the injured Ike Taylor. Again, the offense was able to turn it into points when Ben threw a 12 yard TD to WR Plaxico Burreess, who was inactive the past 2 games. The defense, led by Timmons, refused to squander this lead as they stood tall. Timmons blew through the Browns offensive line on consecutive plays for sacks. The second was a blindsided hit that knocked the ball out and DE Ziggy Hood recovered with 1:10 to go. Timmons is the first inside linebacker to lead the team in sacks since they began keeping record in 1972. He finished the season with 6 sacks.
With this win came the end of the Steelers season. At least they can go home with a little pride left. There are many questions facing the team as we head into the off season. Another year where we could lose many beloved veterans but yet see many new young stars arise.