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Archive for Friday, December 11, 2009

Pittsburgh’s slide hits five

December 11, 2009

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— There’s nothing Super about the Pittsburgh Steelers anymore.

The defending NFL champions lost their fifth straight and had their playoff hopes sacked by the lowly Cleveland Browns, who ended a 12-game losing streak against their bitter rival by beating the Steelers, 13-6, on Thursday night in subzero wind chills.

Ben Roethlisberger was sacked eight times and lost for the first time in 11 career games against the Browns (2-11), who extended Pittsburgh’s longest losing streak in six years and defeated the Steelers (6-7) at home for the first time since 2000.

“A long time coming,” Browns quarterback Brady Quinn said.

Pittsburgh’s postseason chances are in peril — if not over completely. The Steelers are going to need help to make the postseason, a stunning freefall for a team that hit the season’s halfway point at 6-2.

Unexpected losses to Kansas City, Oakland and Cleveland — three of the NFL’s worst teams with a combined record of 9-28 — have pushed Pittsburgh to the brink.

Chris Jennings, who began the season on Cleveland’s practice squad, scored on a 10-yard run and Phil Dawson kicked a pair of 29-yard field goals for the Browns, who snapped a seven-game losing streak, a 10-game slide at home and beat the Steelers for just the second time in 20 games.

Roethlisberger tried to rally the Steelers, but his fourth-down pass to Santonio Holmes with less than two minutes left was knocked down by linebacker David Bowens.

When Holmes was tackled on a punt return and the final second ticked off the scoreboard’s clock, frozen Browns fans, who were nearly outnumbered by Terrible Towel-waving Pittsburgh fans, danced in the aisles. Several Cleveland players sprinted down field and jumped into the Dawg Pound section to celebrate.

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