Kicker Phil Dawson is the longest tenured Brown, joining the team in March, 1999. He could hardly put into words what it meant to snap a 12-game losing streak to Pittsburgh Thursday. The Browns had also lost 18 of the last 19 and eight in a row at home to their arch-rivals.
''I can't describe what it means to finally beat those guys,'' Dawson said. ''It's been a good while now. It's special. You're not supposed to act like one means more than the other, but in this case it does.''
When the game ended, Dawson said thanks to the fans by pointing towards the Dawg Pound. He got choked up when speaking about the dedicated and long-suffering faithful.
''They're always there,'' he said. ''It's moments like this you want to share that with them. I appreciate them for coming each and every week and hope they enjoy this.''
On a frigid night with the wind gusting 25-48 mph, Dawson converted both his field goal attempts from 29 yards.
When it was suggested it was not an easy day to kick, he said, ''Not at all. But that's the way it is in December. We've still got two more this year.''
Safety Mike Adams said the Browns tried to ignore the elements.
''It was brutal. It was cold. But we didn't let the weather affect us,'' Adams said. ''We went out there and were ready to play.''
Adams wasn't feeling the cold when he leapt into the Dawg Pound after the game.
''It was warm there. A lot of beer and everything. I think I'm feeling it right now,'' Adams said, swaying.
Adams said the Browns' defensive game plan was to keep it simple.
''We kept it simple, we played our base coverages and we rushed the quarterback and kept him in the pocket,'' Adams said. ''That was the number one thing coach stressed all week, 'Keep Ben in the pocket.' That's why we were able to get those tackles. When he gets out of the pocket he gets elusive and he's hard to tackle.''
Cornerback Brandon McDonald, back in the starting lineup, also enjoyed a big night for the entire defense.
''We were trying to challenge the wideouts at the line of scrimmage and give our d-line and linebackers time to get to the quarterback and keep Ben in the pocket. We executed our game plan well,'' McDonald said.
Asked if the victory was worth the wait, McDonald said, ''Aw, yeah. It feels good to beat these guys. I haven't beaten these guys since I've been here for three years. The fans really wanted it, they're really passionate about this game and everybody's happy.''
McDonald said he wasn't nervous during the Steelers' last possession, which ended when linebacker David Bowens batted away Ben Roethlisberger's pass intended for Santonio Holmes.
''We live for moments like that. This is why we play the game,'' McDonald said. ''It comes down to defense. Like they say, 'Offense sells tickets, defense wins games.' We practice that every day, two-minute drill, and we usually win it.''
McDonald wasn't surprised to see Bowens, an 11-year veteran, flying across the middle.
''We know Bowens is the leader of this defense now,'' McDonald said. ''We've had guys go down, Bowens had to play our middle linebacker role and he did a great job getting the guys lined up and executing the defense.''
McDonald said he learned at the beginning of the week he would be back in the lineup. Adams had started the past three games at right corner.
''They told me at the beginning of the week they wanted me to step up and make plays like they know I can. I just tried to be in position to make as many plays as I can,'' McDonald said.
The Browns' eight sacks were their most since they recorded eight against Houston on Oct. 20, 2002.
When it was suggested that some of those had to be coverage sacks, McDonald said, ''Most definitely. I think all eight of them were.
''Playing these guys as many times as we have, we knew what their game plan was versus us. We were aggressive for four quarters in all phases and they weren't.''
Some observers were surprised the Browns didn't run more.
''Before the game started we didn't know what type of game it was going to be because of the weather,'' McDonald said. ''We were executing well in the running game and in the passing game. I wish we had been playing like that the whole year. We've got three more games left and if we play like that we can win these last three.''