PITTSBURGH, Pa.—The first half wasn’t very exciting in terms of offensive football, but the Browns are still in the game thus far as they trail the Steelers 7-3.
Besides missing their top two quarterbacks, Joshua Cribbs is lost for the game with a head injury suffered on a run out of the wildcat when James Harrison hit him in the helmet. Also, Mohamed Massaquoi left the game with a blow to the head by Harrison.
Colt McCoy, playing his first game, is 6-of-9 for 67 yards with an interception and two sacks. He ran three times for 18 yards.
The Browns scored first as Phil Dawson kicked a 39-yard field goal with 1:51 to play in the first quarter after a 62-yard interception return by Joe Haden. Dawson broke the franchise record for field goals after tying Lou Groza last week against Atlanta.
The Steelers were moving and were at the Browns 14 when Haden stepped in front of Medwelde Moore on third-andfour.
After Ryan Clark intercepted McCoy at the 18 and returned it to the 29, the Steelers marched down field. Rashard Mendenhall was the primary workhorse as he touched the ball on the first seven plays, five rushing and two receiving. Roethlisberger tried to go deep to Antwaan Randle-El, but Sheldon Brown pulled him down from behind for a 26-yard pass interference penalty which gave the Steelers the ball on the Browns’ 20. Faced with third-and-4 from the 14, Roethlisberger threw toward Moore and Haden stepped in front of him for his first career interception.
The Steelers took a 7-3 lead as Roethlisberger hit Mike Wallace for a 29-yard touchdown with 10:40 to play in the second quarter as Wallace beat Eric Wright for the score. The Steelers went 81 yards in 6:11 with the biggest play of the drive until the touchdown being a 22-yard pass from Roethlisberger to Emmanuel Sanders on third-and-13 to the Browns’ 29.
The Colt Era: QB Colt McCoy threw an eight-yard pass to WR Brian Robiskie on the first play of scrimmage. He had a 19-yard completion to TE Evan Moore to the Steelers’ 36 on third-and-10.
However, McCoy was sacked and thrown to the turf by LB LaMarr Woodley after the Browns moved to the Steelers’ 36. On the next play DB Ryan Clark intercepted McCoy.
McCoy’s first half was 6-of-9 for 67 yards with one interception. He rushed three times for 18 yards and was sacked twice.
The last time a rookie QB started for the Browns against the Steelers was QB Charlie Frye, who didn’t fare well. Also, Frye’s last game with the Browns was against the Steelers. He started the opening game against Pittsburgh in 2007, but was pulled in favor of QB Derek Anderson in the first half. He was traded to Seattle the next day.
Go Peyton Go: RB Peyton Hillis was coming off missing most of the week with a thigh injury. He carried nine times for 33 yards and caught three passes for 31 yards. TE Evan Moore had a 19-yard catch.
Super Joe: CB Joe Haden intercepted a pass from QB Ben Roethlisberger intended for RB Mewelde Moore on third-and-4 at the Browns’ three-yard line. He returned the ball 62 yards to the Steelers’ 35. Haden also downed a punt on the Steelers’ two in the second quarter.
Wildcat: WR Josh Cribbs ran the wildcat on the second play from scrimmage for one-yard. He returned the opening kickoff 26 yards. With 9:12 to play in the second quarter, Cribbs was hit helmet to helmet by LB James Harrison out of the wildcat and he was motionless. Harrison and Cribbs both played at Kent State. Cribbs was taken to the locker room, but was able to walk. His injury was described as a head injury and he will not return. In all likelihood, Cribbs suffered a concussion. WR Chansi Stuckey replaced Cribbs as the punt returner.
With Cribbs out and Delhomme and Wallace inactive, the Browns have just McCoy and Brett Ratliff as quarterbacks.
Move over Lou: K Phil Dawson entered the game tied with Hall of Famer Lou Groza for the franchise record with 234 field goals. He surpassed Groza with a 39-yard field goal with 1:51 to play in the first quarter to give the Browns a 3-0 lead.
Man Down: Besides Cribbs, WR Mohamed Massaquoi was hit in the helmet by Harrison and he was taken to the locker room. LB Scott Fujita was injured in the second quarter trying to tackle QB Ben Roethlisberger. However, Fujita returned on the next defensive series.
Rogers at End: DL Shaun Rogers lined up at right end on two plays, including the Steelers’ first touchdown.
Ben Returns: QB Ben Roethlisberger played for the first time this season after a four game league suspension. The fans welcomed him back with open arms as he was greeted to a rousing chorus of cheers from his hometown fans as he was introduced. Roethlisberger was 7-of-11 for 80 yards with a touchdown and an interception. RB Rashard Mendenhall carried 10 times for 54 yards.
Rubin Roving: DL Ahytba Rubin led the Browns with three tackles and three assists in the first half.
Bell Active: RB Mike Bell was active after two days of practice after coming over from the Eagles in a trade for RB Jerome Harrison.
Inactives: For the Browns, QB Seneca Wallace, QB Jake Delhomme, WR Carlton Mitchell, OL Shawn Lauvao, OL John St. Clair, TE Alex Smith, DL Jayme Mitchell and DL Robaire Smith. DL Kenyon Coleman started at LDE with Brian Schaefering at RDE. For the Steelers: CB Keenan Lewis, RB Jonathan Dwyer, CB Crezdon Butler, OT Tony Hills, OT Trai Essex, WR Antonio Brown, LB Thaddeus Gibson and Charlie Batch is the third QB. Doug Legursky starts in place of Essex at RG.