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A tale of two halves part of Steelers script in first win of season vs. Cleveland

The Pittsburgh Steelers did their best Jekyll-and-Hyde impersonation Sunday at Heinz Field vs. the Cleveland Browns. It was more than the strongest Steelers fan could handle from the eyes of JP.

Justin K. Aller

Charlie Dickens is smiling from his grave.

His classic A Tale of Two Cities was brought back to life Sunday at Heinz Field in the form of a slight rewrite by the Steelers and Cleveland Browns that some might call A Tale of Two Halves at Heinz.

The parallel between the Dickens novel and the Steelers' second half is eerily similar. Much like the maligned French peasants, (Steelers) the aristocracy (Browns) tormented its opponent in a relentless nature, leading to an inevitable ending.

No, not a revolution. But close.

This tale of two halves was one that saw the Steelers dominate the Browns to the tune of 27-3 after 30 minutes. Every aspect of the game was dominated by both the offense and defense, as they bashed, bludgeoned and bruised their way to a massive lead.

Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger was masterful, throwing for a record 274 first half yards, a personal best for him. He threw often. He was accurate. He was brilliant, despite a second-quarter interception.

The O line opened holes for Le'Veon Bell and LeGarrette Blount who each ran hard, fast, strong and with purpose.

Antonio Brown was dominant. Marcus Wheaton came to play. Justin Brown was accountable and made catches. Heath Miller was the rock he's been for years.

As for the defense, they were stout, holding the Browns to just 101 yards of total offense in the first half.

It all looked so easy.

But much like Dickens' tale, there was little humor to the second half of play on the Steelers side.

What is being overlooked is the play of Cleveland in the final 29 minutes. Brian Hoyer, who stunk out the joint in the first two quarters, played like a mad bomber, throwing for a TD while leading four straight Browns scoring drives.

Give credit where it's due. And Roethlisberger sure did after the game.

"They came out the opening drive and went down and scored." said Roethlisberger.  "They went into an up-tempo, no-huddle offense. We didn't hold onto the ball enough. We didn't convert third downs. We kinda had a couple of little mistakes here and there that ended up being bigger plays on third down.  Little things like that and we didn't capitalize when we had to and they deserve credit for that."

Cleveland got yards both big and small in the second half against a defense that could do no wrong in the first. Mike Tomlin's opinion of what took place seemed spot on.

"We were working on the long field and they were working on the short field," said Tomlin. "Obviously they found rhythm with the running game. But it was the chucks and the misdirection game that was creating real issues for us."

And it did for four consecutive Brown's drives that led to 24 points for a tie game with 11:15 left in the fourth.

Just to recap that, Cleveland tallied 24 points on four straight drives that took all of 18 minutes and 45 seconds. In that same span, the Steelers recorded three drives that went 3 and out and only one first down.

Yet with momentum clearly on their side, possession of the ball and a chance to put a game winning drive together, the Browns did what they do best, play the way they have for so long and went 3-and-out with just under two minutes to play, deep in their own zone.

That's where Ben stepped in and led another fourth-quarter drive, culminating in Shaun Suisham's game winning 41-yard FG at the gun.

It's not the best formula for victory, but somehow, some way, the Steelers found a way.

A win's a win." said Roethlisberger.  "We can't apologize for the way we win.  We just got to win games."

And somehow, much like the peasants of France, the Steelers did just that.

John Phillips is a radio personality for 93.7 The Fan in Pittsburgh and a columnist for Behind The Steel Curtain. Check him out on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.