PITTSBURGH (AP) -- The Cleveland Browns did almost everything possible to beat the rival Steelers. They seized a 15-point lead, forced a key turnover and twice got long kickoff returns from Joshua Cribbs even as Pittsburgh tried to kick away from him.
What the Browns couldn't defend was, of all things, Ben Roethlisberger's legs in Pittsburgh's 31-28 win Sunday.
Roethlisberger scrambled 30 yards for a key touchdown during Pittsburgh's second-half comeback, then set up his own go-ahead 2-yard TD pass to Heath Miller with an important third-down run as the Steelers rallied.
In a game that meant a two-game swing in the AFC North, the Browns (5-4) would have tied the Steelers (7-2) by winning, Roethlisberger's big second half overcame Cleveland quarterback Derek Anderson's huge first half.
Pittsburgh beat Cleveland for the ninth consecutive time.
Cleveland opened a 21-6 lead in the first half with the help of Cribbs' 90-yard kickoff return that led to one of Anderson's three touchdown passes before halftime. After Roethlisberger's long scramble put the Steelers in the lead for the first time early in
the fourth quarter, Cribbs fumbled a kickoff inside his own 5. He picked it up mostly out of desperation and somehow wedged his way down Pittsburgh's sideline for a 100-yard scoring return and an improbable 28-24 lead.
But Roethlisberger, who had run for only 86 yards all season before gaining 49 yards on three runs, led a decisive 78-yard scoring drive. It lasted 8 minutes and was kept going by his 10-yard run to the 2 on third-and-9. He then found Miller for his second touchdown pass, giving Roethlisberger a career-high 22 scoring passes with seven games to play.
Phil Dawson could have tied it, but he missed a 52-yard field goal attempt after the snap was high with 6 seconds remaining.