The Browns (4-7) fell to the Pittsburgh Steelers (5-6) 27-11 today at FirstEnergy Stadium. Below is our game day blog. It will be updated at the end of each quarter.
Final: Steelers 27, Browns 11
Things went from very bad to much worse for the Browns in the fourth quarter. Brandon Weeden was first stripped of the ball by Troy Polamalu, his second forced fumble of the day. That fumble was picked up by former Buckeye Cameron Heyward. Later, Weeden was intercepted by William Gay on a pass intended for Jordan Cameron, who returned it 21 yards for a touchdown. Only a few thousand fans were left in the stands as the game ended. The lone fourth-quarter bright spot was Josh Gordon, who had catches of 47- and 42-yards and 100 yards in the quarter. He later caught a 1-yard touchdown pass from Weeden on a fade route. Weeden hit Bess for the 2-point conversion to make it 27-11. Gordon finished with 237 receiving yards, which breaks the franchise record of 191 by Ozzie Newsome against the New York Jets in 1984. He also tied Newsome for the franchise record for catches in a game with 14.
End 3Q: Steelers 20, Browns 3
With 7:46 left in the third quarter, Campbell was knocked out of the game for good. He was blindsided by William Gay on a cornerback blitz, was sacked and fumbled. Will Allen picked up the fumble and returned it 49 yards to the Browns' 4-yard line. Campbell remained on the ground and was later carted off the field. Per a Browns announcement in the press box, he is out of the game and will be evaluated for a head injury. On the first play from scrimmage, Roethlisberger hit Emmanuel Sanders for a touchdown on a slant pattern to make it 20-3. Weeden entered the game and drove the Browns into field goal territory, but a Billy Cundiff field goal attempt sailed wide left.
End 2Q: Steelers 13, Browns 3
With 2:33 left in the second quarter, Jason Campbell was tackled while scrambling by Jason Worilds and was slow to get up. The Browns announced in the pressbox that he was questionable to return with a rib injury. He had to leave the field for one play, making way for Brandon Weeden, who entered the game under a chorus of boos. Weeden's first pass, a would-be first down, was dropped by tight end Jordan Cameron. Campbell returned the next series. But before that could happen, Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown beat Joe Haden for a 41-yard touchdown. Haden let up on the play and Roethlisberger's throw beat him deep. Driving with under two minutes remaining, Ogbonnaya lost a fumble near midfield. The Steelers turned that into a 32-yard field goal with seven seconds left in the half.
End 1Q: Steelers 3, Browns 3
Both kickers battled the wind well, hitting field goals of over 45 yards. Steelers kicker Shaun Suisham struck first with a 47-yard on the game's first drive. Highlighted by a 24-yard completion from Jason Campbell to Josh Gordon, Browns kicker Billy Cundiff capped a 34-yard drive with a 49-yard field goal. Just before that drive, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger faced a fourth-and-1 at the Pittsburgh 38-yard line. Roethlisberger tried to get the Browns to jump offsides, but the defensive line stayed home and the Steelers had to punt.
Inactives: Browns – Tight end MarQueis Gray (hamstring), inside linebacker Craig Robertson (sprained right knee), center Patrick Lewis, offensive tackle Martin Wallace, guard Garrett Gilkey, offensive tackle Reid Fragel and defensive end Armonty Bryant (back). Steelers – Quarterback Landry Jones, wide receiver Derek Moye, safety Shamarko Thomas (ankle), tight end Richard Gordon, linebacker Stevenson Sylvester (hamstring), linebacker LaMarr Woodley (calf) and defensive end Brett Keisel (foot).
Lineup changes: Browns – Tank Carder will start at inside linebacker in place of Robertson. Notes: Carder will start for the second time in his two-year NFL career. His other start was in last year’s regular-season finale against the Steelers. Steelers – Ziggy Hood will start at defensive end in place of Keisel and Jarvis Jones will start at outside linebacker in place of Woodley.
Ryan Lewis’ top storylines: 1. The loser of this game would fall to 4-7 and three games behind the AFC North-leading Cincinnati Bengals (7-4, on bye this week) with only five games to play. It’s also a crucial game for each in the wild-card race — both the Browns and Steelers enter today only one game behind the New York Jets and Miami Dolphins (5-5). 2. The defenses should look similar, even “identical,” as Browns defensive coordinator Ray Horton said last week. Horton spent much of his professional football life working under Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau, and still uses many of the same concepts. 3. Browns quarterback Jason Campbell and Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger are coming off very different games. Campbell couldn’t find a rhythm against the Bengals, finishing 27-of-56 for 248 yards, a touchdown and three interceptions. Roethlisberger, meanwhile, torched the Detroit Lions for 367 yards and four touchdowns. After a shaky start, Roethlisberger has thrown for four touchdowns in two of his past three games. 4. Today is the first time Browns nose tackle Phil Taylor and Steelers offensive tackle Kelvin Beachum will be on the same field since last year’s chippy season finale. Taylor blindsided Beachum with a forearm smash away from the play that gave Beachum a concussion and earned Taylor a $7,875 fine from the league. Taylor then received several angry messages on Twitter from Steelers fans. That play was in reaction to Steelers right guard Doug Legursky, who had taken the legs out from under Browns inside linebacker Craig Robertson earlier in the game. 5. Today is the first game between two of this past draft’s top pass rushers, Barkevious Mingo (No. 6 overall) and Jarvis Jones (No. 17 overall). Both are having underwhelming rookie seasons. Jones has just 24 tackles and one sack, and he hasn’t had more than two tackles in a game since Sept. 22. Mingo has better numbers (26 tackles, four sacks) but almost disappeared in recent weeks.
Preview stories via Ohio.com: 1. Browns must end drought against Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to keep season relevant. 2. Key matchup: Wide receiver Josh Gordon against Steelers cornerback Ike Taylor . 3. Five must-know numbers for game Sunday. 4. Predictions from Nate Ulrich, Marla Ridenour and Ryan Lewis. 5. How they rank on offense and defense. 6. Quote of the week. 7. Nose tackle Phil Taylor's filthy forearm smash from last season on Steelers' minds. 8. Rivalry feels real for Browns as they aim to beat Steelers with playoffs at stake. 9. Offense bracing for Steelers seven-time Pro Bowler Troy Polamalu. 10. Browns cornerback Joe Haden married, more mature, likely heading to his first Pro Bowl. 11. Browns notebook: Rookie Barkevious Mingo receives votes of confidence despite his growing pains. 12. Browns DC Ray Horton discusses upcoming matchup with his mentor, Steelers DC Dick LeBeau. 13. Browns quarterback Jason Campbell eager to build on his track record of bouncing back. 14. From the other sideline: Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers get hot again, just in time to renew rivalry with Browns.