What happened near the end of the game Thursday night was huge for the Browns in their 13-6 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers at Cleveland Browns Stadium.
And what occurred afterwards was significant, too, at least according to one Brown.
When veteran linebacker David Bowens knocked down Ben Roethlisberger’s pass for former Ohio State wide receiver Santonio Holmes on a fourth-and-6 play from the Cleveland 39 with 1:39 left, it virtually clinched the win for the Browns.
It might have done more.
“It was like, ‘I got it, I got it,’ but then I didn’t get it. If I would have caught it, then I would have taken it back for a touchdown,” Bowens said.
That would have given Cleveland a 20-6 lead and sealed the deal for sure, but Bowens wasn’t that upset.
“The main thing was that we stopped them and got the ball back,” he said.
Bowens was just relieved the Browns had halted the Steelers’ 12-play, 40-yard drive that consumed 4:33. As the Steelers were marching, he kept having flashbacks to the Nov. 22 game at Detroit, when the Browns, after going ahead 37-31 with a TD with 5:44 left, proceeded to let the Lions march 88 yards in 10 plays covering 1:46 to score the game-winning TD on an untimed play after the clock had expired. The Browns’ Hank Poteat was called for pass interference in the end zone as time ran out, and the Lions, working from the Cleveland 1, scored on a pass and then kicked the extra point to escape with a 38-37 decision.
“That Detroit game was fresh in my mind the whole time,” Bowens said. “Before the fourth-down play, I kept telling everybody, ‘Finish! Finish!’ ”
And finish the Browns did, ending a 12-game losing streak to the Steelers dating back to 2003, halting a seven-game losing streak this year, and ending a club-record 10-game home losing streak.
The euphoric Browns celebrated, but most of the Steelers didn’t stick around to watch it. As soon as Holmes was tackled at the Pittsburgh 14 following a three-yard punt return as time ran out, the Steelers trotted – some even sprinted – to their locker room. It was interesting watching big offensive linemen who hadn’t moved their feet fast enough all night to protect Roethlisberger sufficiently (see below), suddenly found the energy to race each other like gazelles to the locker room.
Bowens wasn’t happy about it.
“I didn’t like it at all,” he said. “After every game this year, including all the ones we’ve lost, I’ve stayed out there and tried to show good sportsmanship by congratulating the guys on the other team.
“But the Steelers didn’t do that. I don’t know if it was because of the cold and they wanted to get to the locker room and warm up, or if they were just upset that they lost. I know, though, that I’m a little edgy about it.”
Indeed, and it had been a long time since the Browns had had an edge on anyone, including the Steelers.
MORE ON THE DEFENSE: The Browns recorded eight sacks, their most ever against the Steelers since sacks began being tabulated by Cleveland in 1963. The second-most was when Browns had six sacks against the Steelers two times, in a 51-0 win on Sept. 10, 1989 and in a 27-7 triumph on Nov. 20, 1988. … However, the 60 yards lost from the sacks is only the second-most the Steelers have suffered against the Browns. Pittsburgh had 67 in the 1989 game. The third-most was the 53 in the 1988 contest. … The eight sacks are the most the Steelers have allowed in a single game in 2009. Previously, the most they have given up this season was four in multiple contests. … The Browns have recorded nine multi-sack games this season, the most since the club totaled nine in 2005. The Browns have registered 32 sacks on the season, which are already 15 more than they had for all of last year. 8. The 32 sacks are tied for the most since the team totaled 35 in 2003. The 2004 team also had 32. The most in the expansion era is 43 in 2001. In 2000, the Browns had 42. … The Browns held the Steelers without a touchdown for the first time since Nov. 11, 2001, when Pittsburgh won 15-12 on five Kris Brown field goals, and just the second time since Oct. 11, 1992, when Cleveland won 17-9. … Cleveland’s defense held Pittsburgh to 75 net rushing yards, which marks the lowest rushing total for the Steelers on the year since totaling 36 in the season opener against Tennessee on Sept. 10. In limiting the San Diego Chargers to 91 net rushing yards last Sunday, the Browns have held their opponents to under 100 net rushing yards in back-to-back games for the first time since 2006, when they limited Pittsburgh to 77 rushing yards on Nov. 19 and the Cincinnati Bengals to 88 on Nov. 26.
AND FINALLY: In an ongoing effort to support breast cancer awareness, the Browns have announced the addition of some unique items up for auction at the NFL’s auction site, www.nflauction.nfl.com. The items include custom-decorated jerseys worn by members of the Browns Women’s Organization during a gate collection for the American Cancer Society prior to the team’s home game against the Bengals on Oct. 4. Each item was autographed by the player or coach of the BWO member. Bidding for the custom jerseys ends on Dec. 21. Proceeds will benefit the American Cancer Society in its support of breast cancer awareness.