The Steelers committed eight turnovers and the Browns were able to capitalize enough for a 20-14 win.
“I’m surprised it was that close considering the turnover situation,” Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said.
The Steelers also had eight turnovers against the Browns on Sept. 10, 1989 at Three Rivers Stadium. Pittsburgh lost that one 51-0, still its most lopsided defeat in history.
That game 23 years ago was over early. Sunday’s contest was not over until the final gun.
“We had a chance to win when we got the ball with nine and then five minutes left, and we weren’t able to do it; I put that on my shoulders,” said 37-year-old Steelers quarterback Charlie Batch, who was pressed into duty because of injuries to Ben Roethlisberger and Byron Leftwich and hit on just 20 of 34 passes for 199 yards and no touchdowns with three interceptions for a 37.8 rating.
The Steelers also fumbled eight times and lost five of them, all by running backs.
Tomlin was especially upset about that. Although he said Batch’s performance was “not good enough,” he knew the quarterback would be rusty. So the Steelers came in with a plan to run the ball and take the pressure off Batch to make plays, but they couldn’t depend on that because of the running backs’ ball security issues. Pittsburgh gained just 49 yards rushing in 20 carries.
“We’ve got to get back to work, and get back to playing fundamental football,” Tomlin said. “We were highly penalized (nine times for 68 yards) and we turned the ball over, and when you do those things, you are going to lose. I don’t care who is playing quarterback.”
Will Roethlisberger, who is battling shoulder and rib problems, play next Sunday when the Steelers visit the AFC North-leading Baltimore Ravens?
“I honestly don’t know if I’ll be ready,” Roethlisberger said after the game. “We’ll evaluate it every day.”
At 6-5 and with two straight losses, the Steelers are three games behind the Ravens (9-2) with only five games left.
“It hurt us, obviously, to lose today,” Roethlisberger said. “But we’ll find a way.”
Added Batch, “We have no margin for error now. We haven’t talked about that as a team, but obviously, we realize it.”
The game started with a turnover -- but by the Browns, not the Steelers -- as linebacker Lawrence Timmons intercepted a tipped
“The defense and special teams played well, but offensively, we were not able to match that,” Batch said. “Again, that’s solely on my shoulders.”
Actually, the way Tomlin sees it, there’s plenty of blame to go around.
“We are not looking for comfort,” he said. “We understand that we’re not going to have much support after a performance like that, but we probably deserve that.”