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Final: Steelers' big pass plays send Browns to loss


PITTSBURGH -- The Browns bottled up the run but had no answers for Ben Roethlisberger and Pittsburgh's potent passing attack Sunday at Heinz Field.

Cleveland's struggles against the deep ball and self-inflicted errors paved the way to a 30-9 loss.

Roethlisberger, playing with an injured foot, threw for 379 yards and three touchdowns against a Browns defense that was without two Pro Bowl defensive backs. Antonio Brown (10 catches, 139 yards, two touchdowns) and Martavis Bryant (six catches, 178 yards, touchdown) accounted for most of the damage, and they did it with a handful of back-breaking big plays.

Johnny Manziel, in his second consecutive start, threw for a career-high 372 yards, a touchdown and an interception. He was sacked six times and his fumble on the Browns' first possession led to a Pittsburgh field goal. The Browns rushed for just 15 yards, 17 coming from Manziel.

The loss was Cleveland's fifth in a row and dropped the team to 2-8 heading into the bye. Pittsburgh moved to 6-4.

Manziel was at his best on a third-quarter drive that summed up Cleveland's shortcomings.

Trailing 24-3 early in the third quarter, Manziel completed a number of nice passes from the pocket on a drive that milked more than 9 minutes off the clock. The Browns reached the 1-yard line on a Manziel scramble but moved backward 24 yards after a holding penalty, illegal formation penalty and sack. Manziel's pass on fourth-and-goal was intercepted.

Jordan Poyer's interception of Roethlisberger deep inside Pittsburgh territory set up the Browns' only touchdown of the game. Manziel connected with Gary Barnidge for a 7-yard touchdown pass with 12:28 remaining in the game.

Pittsburgh promptly answered with a touchdown of its own to maintain its three-possession lead. Roethlisberger hit Brown on a crossing route, and the speedy receiver ran 56 yards for his second score of the game.

The Browns got all the way to the Steelers' 5-yard line midway through the fourth quarter but couldn't get any farther.

The game initially pitted two backup quarterbacks, Manziel and Pittsburgh's Landry Jones against each other, but that quickly changed after the Steelers' first series. Jones went down with an ankle injury and Roethlisberger, who injured his foot in last week's fourth quarter, took control of the offense.

The Browns defense surrendered a bunch of yards through the first quarter but toughened up inside the 20-yard line to force two Chris Boswell field goals and limit the Steelers' advantage to 6-3. The second quarter was an entirely different story, as the Steelers took control with big pass after big pass and capitalized on Cleveland's mistakes.

What could have been Boswell's third field goal of the game turned into a touchdown, as Armonty Bryant was flagged for a personal foul on the attempt to give the Steelers a first down. Roethlisberger connected with Brown on the next play and did the same on a two-point conversion to extend their lead to 14-3.

Though Andrew Hawkins' fumble on the ensuing possession didn't directly lead to Pittsburgh points, it help set up another Roethlisberger touchdown pass. After the Browns stuffed the Steelers on fourth down on the 1-yard line, the Browns punted it right back following a three-and-out and gave the Steelers a short field. In two plays, Roethlisberger moved Pittsburgh 47 yards and into the end zone with a 32-yard touchdown pass to Bryant.

The Browns committed 12 penalties for 188 yards.

The Browns' only first half points were set up by Cleveland's longest play from scrimmage on the season. Manziel rolled out and located Travis Benjamin, who took the long pass and made it even longer with a run down the sidelines for a 61-yard gain. The drive fizzled inside the 10 and Travis Coons made his 16th field goal on 16 attempts to get Cleveland on the scoreboard.

Pittsburgh extended its lead to 21 midway through the third quarter with a Boswell field goal that capped a drive that saw the Steelers gain 75 yards off two Cleveland pass interference penalties.

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