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Bell runs for 146 yards, Steelers punish Browns 24-9

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Le'Veon Bell rushed for 146 yards and the Pittsburgh Steelers recorded 8 sacks in a 24-9 win over the Cleveland Browns, moving into a tie for first-place in the AFC North.

The Pittsburgh Steelers entered Sunday’s game against the Cleveland Browns with the fourth-best touchdown scoring percentage (68 percent) in the NFL.

The Steelers defeated the Brown 24-9 despite only scoring one touchdown in four red zone trips against the Browns, who were second-to-last in the NFL in points-per-game allowed (30.1) entering Sunday’s games.

Le’Veon Bell rushed for a season-high 146 yards and a touchdown in his first 100-yard rushing performance since Oct. 2 against the Kansas City Chiefs (144 yards). Ben Roethlisberger went 23-36 for 167 yards. Bell and Antonio Brown led the Steelers with eight catches apiece for 55 and 76 yards, respectively.

Because of the Baltimore Ravens’ 27-17 loss to the Dallas Cowboys, the Steelers and Ravens are now tied atop the AFC North.

On Pittsburgh’s first drive, Roethlisberger used Bell to open the scoring, handing it off and throwing the ball to Bell a combined 11 times for a net 79 yards. The Steelers used up 9:18, but could not get a touchdown; Chris Boswell kicked a 32-yard field goal.

In the second quarter, the Steelers converted on a fourth-and-3 with a 4-yard completion to Antonio Brown. Again, Pittsburgh failed to get into the end zone and Boswell kicked a 33-yard field goal to make it 6-0.

The Steelers nearly wasted a prime scoring chance to end the second half, but benefitted from back-to-back penalties on the Browns in the red zone to end the second half. Both penalties came after time expired and after two Roethlisberger incompletions, but the Steelers were given another play both times.

Despite those penalties, Pittsburgh refused to kick a field goal either time. Instead, Bell scored the game’s first touchdown with a 1-yard run.

After scoring on all three drives in the first half, the Steelers punted three times in the second half.

In the third, Pittsburgh again failed to conclude a red zone drive with a touchdown. Ladarius Green dropped pass in the back of the end zone on third down, thus forcing Boswell to kick a 22-yard field goal.

The Steelers defense overcame a fourth down conversion by the Browns in the third quarter to hold them to a field goal. After a 26-yard grab by Terrelle Pryor on fourth-and-9, Cleveland was at the Pittsburgh 1 yard-line with a fresh set of downs. After a tackle-for-a-loss and a sack, Cody Kessler rushed out of the pocket for a 2-yard gain, but this time the Browns elected to kick a field goal.

Kessler spent much of Sunday scampering from the Pittsburgh blitz. After a hit by Lawrence Timmons on the second-to-last play of the third quarter, Kessler left the game with a concussion.  In Week 7, Kessler was concussed following a hit by Carlos Dunlap. Kessler did not return and replacement Josh McCown went 14-27 for 118 yards and a touchdown.

The Steelers were credited with eight sacks, a season-high. Pittsburgh has a combined 13 sacks in three game since its bye week. The biggest sack of the day came in the third quarter, when James Harrison sacked Kessler in the third for his 77.5th career sack as a Steeler. Harrison, starting his first game of the season, passed Jason Gildon for No. 1 on the Steelers’ all-time list.  

Two Steelers’ rookies made an impact on Sunday’s game. Cornerback Artie Burns intercepted Kessler on the game’s opening drive and defensive tackle Javon Hargrave recovered a fumble by McCown for a touchdown in the fourth quarter.

A week after going 0-4 on two point conversions in a 35-30 loss to the Cowboys, the Steelers converted on their only attempt on Sunday with a slant pass to David Johnson to close out the first half.

With the win, head coach Mike Tomlin improved 19-19 in his career against sub-.500 teams in his 10 years with Pittsburgh.

The loss moves the Browns to 0-11 in 2016. The last time Cleveland won was on Dec. 13, 2015, against the San Francisco 49ers.

Now 5-5, the Steelers will battle the Indianapolis Colts on Thursday night in hopes of getting over .500. Kickoff is set for 8:30 p.m. on Thanksgiving evening.

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