Two more Steelers starters go down in loss to Browns
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CLEVELAND -- The Steelers lost more than eight turnovers, a game and more stature in the AFC North Division Sunday at Cleveland Browns Stadium.
They also lost two more starters to injuries. This time, they were ankle injuries and not ribs, which had been their injury du jour the past two games.
Linebacker LaMarr Woodley left early with a sprained left ankle. He returned to the game briefly after having it taped and then left for good.
Rookie tackle Mike Adams left in the third quarter with what might be a high left ankle sprain that was placed in a walking boot immediately after the game.
"I don't know the extent of those injuries," coach Mike Tomlin said.
Jason Worilds did a good job replacing Woodley. He had two sacks and, unofficially, three quarterback hurries. His five sacks are tied with Woodley for the team lead. Rookie Kelvin Beachum replaced Adams at right tackle.
In addition, Willie Colon missed his first start this season because of an unspecified left knee injury. Colon practiced Wednesday and Thursday and then was limited in practice Friday, when Tomlin listed him as probable for the game. He was in uniform but did not play.
"He had pain in his knee," Tomlin said. "We thought there was a chance it was going to perk up and actually it didn't."
Lawrence Timmons interception was his third this season and just the sixth for the Steelers. No other player has two.
It also was the only takeaway by the Steelers, giving them 10 this season or just two more than the Browns had Sunday.
"We needed one more thing to help our offense," safety Ryan Clark said. "Their defense continued to get their offense the ball in scoring position and other than Lawrence's interception, we didn't do it."
The Browns didn't just force Steelers running backs to lose four fumbles. They held those backs to 49 yards on 20 carries. It was all by design, coach Pat Shurmur said, after they found out the Steelers were going to start Charlie Batch at quarterback.
"I think we knew they were going to come in and run the football," Shurmur said. "When you're down to your third quarterback, whoever that may be, you are going to try to lean on the run. I thought our guys battled and did a good job of controlling so that the run game didn't have a huge effect on the game."
Added Browns defensive tackle Phil Taylor, "They had Charlie Batch starting. I mean, he can still throw the ball, but we knew that they were coming in with the run so we knew we had to ball our fists up and go out there and play."
The win was the third in the past four home games for the Browns, who are 3-8 overall. "We've got to try to establish ourselves as a team that can win at home," Shurmur said. "We've got to establish ourselves as a team that wins division games."
Browns rookie running back Trent Richardson finished with 85 yards on 29 carries and scored the winning touchdown on a 15-yard run midway through the third quarter. He was impressed by a Steelers defense that deserved a better fate.
Seventeen of the Browns' 20 points were set up by Steelers turnovers.
"That's the best defense I've played against since I've been in the NFL, hands down," Richardson said. "And hard-hitting. I took a few shots. That was probably the hardest-hitting team I've played against so far."
Richardson was trying for a third consecutive 100-yard rushing game, but 15 of those yards game on his touchdown run.
"We actually were going to throw the ball on first down and we took a penalty," Shurmur said. "We ran a weak-side counter. The guys blocked it well and he hit it up in there. At some point in there, I'm sure he knew he wasn't going to be denied."
Cleveland kicker Phil Dawson sustained his bid for season-long perfection Sunday with two field goals and two extra points in the 20-14 victory against the Steelers.
Dawson, 37, the oldest player on the field not named Charlie Batch, ran his field-goal numbers to 21 for 21 and his extra-point conversions to 20 for 20. He has made 27 consecutive field-goal attempts to tie the Cleveland franchise record set by Lou Groza.
The Browns came into the game with 27 sacks, third best in the AFC, but got to Batch only once despite a patched-up Steelers offensive line that included Doug Legursky for Colon at guard and little-used Beachum at right tackle for Adams.
The Browns converted 3 of 16 third-down opportunities, meaning the Steelers have held their past six opponents to a combined 18 for 78 on third down, or 23 percent.
The Steelers went 1 for 9 on third down in front of Batch, the worst third-down efficiency against a Cleveland team since Carolina went 0 for 11 Oct. 8, 2006 against the Browns.
• The Steelers time of possession Sunday, 26:30, marked only the second time this season the offense failed to control the ball for at least 30 minutes.
• The Steelers have scored their fewest points in a game this season in each of their past two, scoring 10 against Baltimore and 14 against Cleveland.
• Quarterbacks Byron Leftwich and Ben Roethlisberger, cornerback DeMarcus Van Dyke, safety Troy Polamalu, offensive tackle Marcus Gilbert and wide receivers Antonio Brown, and Jerricho Cotchery were inactive for the Steelers.
• James Harrison's sack gave him 61 for his career and moved him out of a third-place tie with Joey Porter on the Steelers list of "official" sack leaders, which counts only those recorded from 1982.
First Published November 26, 2012 12:00 am