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Physical defense leads to win

Posted Nov 26, 2012

The Browns’ physical defensive play was a key factor in Sunday’s 20-14 win against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The Cleveland Browns have long prided themselves in having a physical defense, and that was never more evident than when they forced eight turnovers in Sunday’s 20-14 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers at Cleveland Browns Stadium.

“I think our identity has always been as a physical defense,” veteran cornerback Sheldon Brown said Monday. “I haven’t been here where we’ve been bullied. In my three years in Cleveland, I can’t really remember a game where we’ve been really bullied around and pushed around. The guys up front, they take pride in that. Ahtyba Rubin is a guy who played with a guy like Robaire Smith, who demanded toughness, and it’s just one of those things that trickled down.”

Against the Steelers, the defense forced seven fumbles and recovered five of them. Brown and Joe Haden combined with Billy Winn for the team’s three interceptions.

Over their past two games, the Browns have allowed a combined 112 rushing yards to the Dallas Cowboys and Steelers. The Browns held the Steelers to 242 yards of total offense, including 49 rushing.

“I think it was an outstanding performance by the defense,” Browns coach Pat Shurmur said of Sunday’s game. “Anytime there’s a turnover, both teams are involved. In a lot of the cases, we did the right things in terms of knocking the ball off them. I credit our guys for that. The interceptions, that part’s good.

“Generally speaking, I felt our guys played hard and at the end of the day, we made enough plays to beat them, where the two weeks previous, we didn’t. Maybe, we got over a little hurdle there against an outstanding opponent. The Pittsburgh Steelers are an outstanding team. They’ve got an outstanding organization and I’ve got a great deal of respect for what they are.”

Sunday’s win over the Steelers was the first time this season when Rubin and Phil Taylor started at defensive tackle with Joe Haden manning one of the cornerback spots. Rubin and Taylor have battled injuries, as has Haden, who also served a four-game suspension in the early part of the season.

“It’s very encouraging because we do have a lot of guys back that we were expecting to contribute,” Brown said. “We’re all playing; we’re all able to rotate with one another, keep guys fresh and it’s showing. (Winning) makes going to work a little easier for the next work week from a motivation standpoint and from the understanding that you still know how to finish and win a game. That’s what that type of win does for you.”

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