The dream lives! The one-time 0-4 Steelers are 5-6 and very much in the race for a playoff spot in the AFC -- be it either a wild-card or the AFC North championship. They handled the Cleveland Browns pretty much like they always do, winning 27-11, this afternoon.
The highlights of the day:
* Takeaways, takeaways, takeaways, takeaways: There were four of them for the Steelers, and with none going the other way. The Steelers, who had one takeaway in their first six games, have had 12 in their past five. Three of the turnovers today led to scores -- two touchdowns and a field goal.
* Troy Polamalu: There still is some Hall-of-Fame caliber play left in the veteran safety. He stripped two Browns of the ball to provide half of those turnovers.
* William Gay: The once-maligned cornerback is having the best season of his career. He blitzed off the edge early in the third quarter and separated quarterback Jason Campbell from the ball. Will Allen picked it up and rambled 49 yards to the Cleveland 4, from where the Steelers scored one play later. In the fourth quarter, he swiped a Brandon Weeden pass and returned it 22 yards for a touchdown.
* The rest of the defense: No one will confuse the Browns with an offensive juggernaut, but the Steelers held them to three points until the game was out of reach. Since being embarrassed at New England four weeks ago, the defense has had one bad quarter -- the second against Detroit. Other than that, all it has allowed are two field goals and meaningless late touchdowns -- one apiece -- against Buffalo and Cleveland.
* Le’Veon Bell: The great numbers are not there, at least not what might be expected for a second-round draft choice who virtually was handed the starting job. He had 80 yards on 23 carries today. He is a work-in-progress who does most everything well. There’s a good chance the numbers will come.
* Ben Roethlisberger: His highlight was a 41-yard touchdown pass to Antonio Brown in the second quarter, but he probably is most bragging about his pooch punt that rolled dead on the Cleveland 1 and set up Gay’s interception return for a touchdown. He was 22 for 34 for 217 yards and two touchdowns. His passer rating was 102.2. A good day.
* Antonio Brown: He is proving himself to be an elite NFL receiver, he gets separation and is dangerous after catching the ball. He led the league in receptions going into the game and may have held on to it with six catches for 92 yards and a touchdown.
* Mike Tomlin: The ridicule by the uninformed that he is a clueless coach couldn’t be any further from the truth. Tomlin is in command and in charge. The ridiculous notion that he ''lost the team" when it was 0-4 has proven to be nonsense. A lesser coach might not have been able to keep this team together and rally it, but Tomlin did all of that. He never lost faith, he never lost control.
* The offensive line: Cleveland came into the game ranked ninth in the NFL in sacks with 31. It had zero today.
* The standings: A 5-6 record is currently good enough for the second wild-card spot in the AFC. There are five teams with that record and the winner of Oakland-Tennessee will make it six. The five are: Steelers, Ravens, Jets, Dolphins and Chargers. The Steelers' next two games are against the Ravens (Thanksgiving) and Dolphins.