PITTSBURGH -- Antonio Brown and Le'Veon Bell each set a record, and Ben Roethlisberger threw a touchdown pass to help the Pittsburgh Steelers beat the Cleveland Browns 20-7 Sunday afternoon at soggy Heinz Field.
Brown set an NFL record with at least five catches and 50 yards receiving in all 16 NFL games, and Bell broke Franco Harris' four-decade team record for yards from scrimmage by a rookie.
The Steelers had little trouble moving the ball during the first half against the Browns and scored 14 points, including a nice mix of run and pass throughout a nine-play, 62-yard touchdown drive in 3:36 on their opening possession. Key plays included a six-yard run on third-and-short by Jonathan Dwyer and 24-yard pass from Roethlisberger to Brown.
Roethlisberger hit Cotchery for 12 yards to the 9 on third down after missing two shots in the end zone. One was to Cotchery, as the veteran wideout couldn't drag his feet before stepping out across the back line. Roethlisberger came back to Cotchery after the first-down catch for a nine-yard score. It was the 10th touchdown this season for Cotchery, which doubled his career-high during nine previous NFL seasons.
The Browns had one decent drive, which included a 20-yard run by first-year running back Edwin Baker to pass midfield, but a strip-sack by Brett Keisel and fumble recovery by Chris Carter -- who started in place of injured outside linebacker Jason Worilds -- ended the drive a short time later.
As play moved into the second quarter, the Steelers offense took control with a 14-play, 67-yard touchdown drive in 8:17. Le'Veon Bell had several nice runs, including a 15-yarder to get things going. There was a nine-yard toss to Emmanuel Sanders for a first down and short connection with Brown on third-and-five, but mostly it was Bell who shined. He ran 12 times for 55 yards during the first half and scored the second touchdown on a five-yard power run.
The Steelers held the ball for 5:30 during their second possession in the second half and drove 54 yards in 11 plays, but they had to settle for Shaun Suisham's 30-yard field goal. There were two records set during the drive, however, as Bell had a 20-yard run and passed Franco Harris' four-decade rookie record for yards from scrimmage. Harris tallied 1,235 yards in 1972.
Also in the drive, Brown became the first NFL player to have at least five catches and 50 yards receiving in all 16 games during a season. The record for most consecutive games with that many catches and yards was 19 by Laveranues Coles during his first of three stints with the New York Jets in 2002 and ending in 2003 when he played for the Washington Redskins.
The Steelers got great field position midway through the fourth quarter after exchanging possessions. Roethlisberger's deep pass, his third of the day, was picked off by Tashaun Gipson. The pass was attempted for Derek Moye, who replaced an injured Cotchery (right shoulder). The Steelers also lost nose tackle Steve McLendon to a left ankle injury that appeared to be serious.
Anyway, after Lawrence Timmons sacked Cleveland quarterback Jason Campbell for a 12-yard loss to force a punt. After a short return by Brown and facemask penalty, the Steelers went three-and-out and Suisham kicked a 32-yard field goal to increase the advantage to 20-0.
The Browns kept firing and eventually scored a touchdown with 2:46 remaining. Campbell hit tight end Jordan Cameron for 13 yards to negate Cam Heyward's sack. And on third-and-four, he found Josh Gordon for six yards and a first down. Several plays later, Campbell connected with Fozzy Whitaker for a 35-yard touchdown to cap the nine-play, 70-yard drive in 2:57.
Mercifully, the Steelers got an interception by Lawrence Timmons late in the game and ran out the clock, but they had to wait for the Chiefs and Chargers to play to find out their fate. The Jets and Bengals both won to get close.
- Steelers postseason rests on resting Chiefs
- 2014 schedule set, vs. Chiefs, at Jets added with second place finish
- Jerricho Cotchery injury: wide receiver injures right shoulder in end zone
- Steve McLendon injury: Steelers nose tackle goes down with left leg injury in third quarter
- Browns vs. Steelers second half open thread
- Steelers inactives: Jason Worilds out in Week 17 vs. Cleveland