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Cleveland Browns

Steelers post-mortem

By Marla Ridenour Published: September 15, 2008

After dropping a 10-6 loss to Pittsburgh Sunday night, Cleveland will try to become one of 19 teams since 1990 to rebound from an 0-2 start to make the playoffs. After facing two of the top teams in the league in Dallas and Pittsburgh, the Browns hit the road against AFC North foes Baltimore (1-0) and Cincinnati (0-2).

''It's not really no hole,'' defensive lineman Shaun Smith said. ''The Giants started out 0-2 last year and won the Super Bowl. We're that caliber-type of team. I feel like we're a good team and we're just trying to get over the hump.''

Making the Browns' last series before halftime even more disorganized was an illegal shift penalty called on the Browns three plays before the interception. On second and 5 from the Pittsburgh 16 with 55 seconds left, Anderson fumbled and center Hank Fraley recovered. On the 5-yard penalty, the referee gave Cleveland the option of using its final timeout or taking a 10-second runoff on the clock and it chose the latter. But the clock started quickly after the runoff and Anderson didn't get the next play started until 33 seconds remained.

''I don't think it caught him off guard,'' Browns coach Romeo Crennel said of the clock's fast restart.

With the wind gusting to 60 mph, Cleveland's Dave Zastudil punted five times for 265 yards for a single-game career-best 53.0 average and a single-game career-best 52.8 net average. The Elias Sports Bureau said his net is a single-game team record dating back to 1970, when the league began recording opposing return yards.

The seven-year veteran from Bay Village said the conditions ranked his top three worst all time, including two last year, in a blizzard against Buffalo and in windy Cincinnati.

''Best game I've ever had,'' Zastudil said. ''You can't try to overkick it. Just make sure you drop the ball a little lower, hold onto it a little longer because you know the ball's going to move. I just tried to do that and stay short on my steps and drive the ball. If you hit a solid ball, it will cut through that wind.''

The Browns were flagged 10 times for 65 yards and perhaps the biggest was a 15-yard face mask penalty on Shaun Smith during the Steelers' lone touchdown drive. It happened as Smith sacked Ben Roethlisberger for a 7-yard loss on first down from the Pittsburgh 43.

''I didn't intentionally try to do it so if I get a fine, I hope you help me pay it,'' Smith said. ''Robaire (Smith) caused a stunt out to me, he hit the inside and I wrapped around. As I work on a drill every day, reach and put your hand out there and the quarterback stepped up and I put my hand out there. I grabbed his face mask as I was trying to wrap him up. He's a big guy to take down.''


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