View from Cleveland: A victory to savor

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CLEVELAND -- I really don't care that the Steelers started a quarterback who has been around long enough to play against Paul Brown.

Or that star safety Troy Polamalu was hurt. Or that Pittsburgh was without two of its top four receivers. Or that the Steelers offensive line was banged up.

I just know this: Browns 20, Steelers 14.

And as coach Pat Shurmur said after the game, "I told the rookies they are now 1-0 against Pittsburgh."

Gotta love that.

I know Dick Jauron's defense forced eight Steelers turnovers.

That's right, eight!

I know the men in the orange helmets delivered bone-rattling, fumble-inducing tackles.

Seven times, they knocked the ball out. Five times, they recovered.

When Pittsburgh tried to run the ball, the Browns built a wall -- the Steelers having only one first down and 49 yards on the ground. In the past, teams could chew up the Browns with off-tackle left, off-tackle right, and then up the middle for big yardage.

Not on this day.

I just know the Browns played excellent defense. Winning defense.

I know that Sheldon Brown and Joe Haden came up with huge interceptions. And defensive lineman Billy Winn picked off a tipped pass. I know they harassed Charlie Batch into three interceptions. They made him feel all of his 37 years.

OK, it would have been a different game if the Steelers had Ben Roethlisberger under center. But he wasn't. And let's face it, the Browns have lost to Pittsburgh teams using backup quarterbacks before.

It's that way when the Browns are 4-23 against the Steelers since returning in 1999.

Anytime Browns fans leave the home field chanting "HERE WE GO BROWNIES, WOOF WOOF" and the opponent was the Pittsburgh Steelers, it's a day to remember and savor.

Especially when the Browns out-hit and out-hustled the Steelers. That was the bottom line in this game.

Yes, Brandon Weeden made an excellent throw for a 5-yard touchdown to Jordan Cameron.

And Trent Richardson (85 yards in 29 carries) bolted for a 15-yard touchdown up the middle, partly due to an excellent block by Shawn Lauvao. Richardson said it was the "hardest hitting team that I've played against in the NFL." He also credited fullback Alex Smith with "hitting a dude in the mouth" with a block to help open the hole.

And Phil Dawson was Phil Dawson, perfect on two more field-goal attempts.

The Cameron touchdown was set up when Juqua Parker forced a fumble that was recovered by Buster Skrine -- on the Pittsburgh 10-yard line. The Richardson touchdown was helped by Brown's interception on the Steelers 32.

And the defense allowed only one touchdown.

The Steelers opened the game when a Weeden pass was tipped at the line of scrimmage and returned 53 yards by Lawrence Timmons for a touchdown.

I also know that when that happened, I wondered if this was going to be another lousy day on the lakefront against the Steelers. When Pittsburgh scored a touchdown right at the half to take a 14-13 lead, I feared the worst. As Shurmur said, his team was facing the best defense in the league.

But on this day, the Browns defense was better.

"And our offense did enough to win," said Shurmur.

In a season of almost victories and agonizing losses, this was one where the Browns made the big plays when it meant the most.

It was a win at home against a divisional opponent and a rival," said Shurmur, whose team is 3-3 on the lakefront this season.

And it was against Pittsburgh, making it all the more reason to celebrate.


Terry Pluto is a columnist for The Plain Dealer in Cleveland.

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