Browns rookie Trent Richardson rushed for 85 yards, scoring the go-ahead TD on a 15-yard run in the third.
For one of the few times in recent years, Cleveland finally won a close game. And this one pleased new owner Jimmy Haslam, who had a minority share of the Steelers before buying the Browns for $1.05 billion in August. Haslam enjoyed not seeing “Terrible Towels” waving after the game.
“I’ve seen it the other way around,” Haslam said. “It’s good to see their fans leaving and our fans staying and cheering. It was a great win for us. It’s nice for me, but it’s bigger for our coaches and our players.”
It also sent president Mike Holmgren out on a winning note. After the game, the Browns announced that it was the final game for Holmgren, who has been replaced by new CEO Joe Banner.
One of Haslam’s goals was to revive one of the NFL’s fiercest rivalries, which has been shaded in yellow and black for most of the past decade. Even with the loss, Pittsburgh is 23-5 against Cleveland since 1999, but in each of the seasons they lost one game to the Browns, the Steelers missed the playoffs.
Tomlin has a lot to work on before then.
All four Pittsburgh running backs fumbled and Batch was understandably rusty. The Steelers were also called for several holding penalties that slowed drives. Wide receiver Plaxico Burress, re-signed during the week, did not have a reception but did draw an interference penalty in the end zone.
“We aren’t going to have any team meetings, not going to sit in a circle and sing ‘Kumbaya’ or anything like that,” safety Ryan Clark said. “We are going to do what we do after we win a game — go back to work and figure out a way to play better.”