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Steelers’ Ben Roethlisberger continues mastery over the Browns

Roethlisberger improved to 24-3-1 in starts against the rival Browns, including 12-2-1 in Cleveland.

Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger celebrates after a 2-yard touchdown pass to tight end Pat Freiermuth during the second half of Pittsburgh’s win over the Browns.
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger celebrates after a 2-yard touchdown pass to tight end Pat Freiermuth during the second half of Pittsburgh’s win over the Browns.
David Richard/AP

CLEVELAND — Ben Roethlisberger handed Cleveland yet another loss, this time on Halloween, as the Pittsburgh Steelers survived losing kicker Chris Boswell for the entire second half in a 15-10 win over the Browns on Sunday.

Roethlisberger threw a touchdown pass and rookie Najee Harris had an 8-yard TD run after halftime for the Steelers (4-3), who were handicapped by Boswell suffering a concussion on a blown trick play.

The Browns (4-4) had plenty of chances, but wide receiver Jarvis Landry had a costly fumble and then couldn’t handle two passes from Baker Mayfield in the final 6:04.

Roethlisberger improved to 24-3-1 in starts against the rival Browns, including 12-2-1 in Cleveland. The 38-year-old finished 22 of 34 for 266 yards — 193 in the second half when the Steelers had no margin for error.

With no Boswell, who got hurt when he was drilled by Browns tackle Jordan Elliott after throwing an incomplete pass, influenced Steelers coach Mike Tomlin’s play-calling throughout the second half.

Punter Pressley Harvin III is Pittsburgh’s backup kicker, but he was having enough trouble with kickoffs and never even attempted to kick the ball into the sideline net.

Roethlisberger’s 2-yard TD pass — on fourth down — to tight end Pat Freiermuth put the Steelers up 15-10 with 11:04 left. Freiermuth initially bobbled the throw, but secured it and got both feet down in the back of the end zone.

Without his kicker, Tomlin was forced to go for 2 for a second time, but Roethlisberger’s pass was incomplete.

The Browns were in position to potentially take the lead, but the sure-handed Landry was stripped by former Cleveland linebacker Joe Schobert with 6:04 left.

Mayfield, who returned to the lineup this week after missing one game with a left shoulder injury, got the ball back with 4:22 to go. The Browns got to the Steelers 26, but Rashard Higgins was called a false start and Landry, who dropped a pass earlier in the drive, couldn’t secure a high throw on fourth down with 1:53 left.

Pittsburgh then sealed it when receiver Dionte Johnson took a short slant 50 yards and Roethlisberger was able to run out the clock.

As he promised, Browns star defensive end Myles Garrett came in costume — dressed as the Grim Reaper, with his outfit accented by a scythe and the names of quarterbacks he had sacked written on his cape.

Garrett got to Roethlisberger once, but he affected other throws, including a 2-point conversion attempt in the third quarter.

D’Ernest Johnson had a 10-yard TD run for the Browns, who will lament costly mistakes in their first AFC North game this season.

Pittsburgh ended a first half dominated by defense with a trick play that cost them points and Boswell.

After lining up for a 28-yard attempt, Boswell took a direct snap from center and rolled right. Unable to find an open receiver, he threw the ball deep into the end zone before taking a high, hard hit by Elliott near Pittsburgh’s sideline.

Elliott’s shot appeared to be a helmet-to-helmet, which could have resulted in a roughing-the-passer penalty.

INJURIES

Steelers: Boswell has been the NFL’s most accurate kicker since 2019, making 94% (60 of 64) of his attempts. ... There was a chance OT Zach Banner would make his season debut, but the 6-foot-8, 360-pounder was inactive again. He hasn’t played since tearing a knee ligament in the 2020 opener.

Browns: RT Jack Conklin dislocated his left elbow in the second quarter. The team sent out a cart and an air cast was brought out before Conklin walked off, supporting his wrist. He had missed the previous two games with a knee injury. ... S John Johnson III didn’t return after suffered a neck stinger in the first half.

UP NEXT

Steelers: A Nov. 8 Monday night date against the Bears.

Browns: Stay inside the division with a visit to Cincinnati on Sunday.