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Steelers thwart rival Browns

©Associated Press
November 4, 2002

CLEVELAND -- Even during the darkest moments, there wasn't a moment this season when the Steelers considered throwing in the Terrible Towel.

"There are 52 guys in there that saved the season," said Pittsburgh quarterback Tommy Maddox, who has led a turnaround from an 0-2 start. "We have a lot of season left, but I can't say enough about the guys in this locker room."

Maddox threw two touchdowns and Amos Zereoue ran for a career-high 111 yards Sunday as the Steelers rallied from an early deficit to beat Cleveland 23-20.

With their fourth straight win, the Steelers took command of the weak AFC North. They're 4-0 in the division and have beaten their biggest rival the past five times and 12 of the past 14.

Dennis Northcutt had an 87-yard punt return for a touchdown to put the Browns ahead 7-0 in the first quarter. After a Todd Peterson field goal, Cleveland went up 14-3 on a 1-yard score from Tim Couch to tight end Steve Heiden.

But Pittsburgh swarmed Couch all afternoon and limited Cleveland to 193 yards -- 36 rushing -- and nine first downs.

And when the Steelers had the ball, they kept it. Pittsburgh's time of possession was 42:18 and the Steelers ran 85 plays to the Browns' 42. Cleveland also had 11 penalties.

"We showed a lot of character," said receiver Hines Ward, who had nine catches for 79 yards and a touchdown. "We've done that all year."

Maddox, 4-1 since replacing Kordell Stewart as the starter, threw scores in the second quarter to Ward and tight end Mark Bruener to rally the Steelers.

Zereoue, making his second start filling in for the injured Jerome Bettis, had the best game of his four-year career. The 5-foot-8, 207-pounder made holes when there weren't any, broke tackles and helped the Steelers kill time in the fourth quarter.

With the Steelers up 23-14, Couch hooked up with Quincy Morgan on a 31-yard score with 4:32 left. Cleveland forced a punt and had a final chance with 57 seconds left. But the Browns were out of timeouts and pinned against their end zone, and couldn't move the ball.

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