Ben Roethlisberger fought off an ankle injury to pass for 280 yards and a pair of touchdowns as the Pittsburgh Steelers topped the visiting Cleveland Browns 14-3 on Thursday.
Antonio Brown and Jerricho Cotchery each caught a touchdown pass and Rashard Mendenhall rushed for 76 yards for the Steelers (10-3), who moved ahead of the Baltimore Ravens (9-3) in the AFC North and the New England Patriots (9-3) and Houston Texans (9-3) for first place in the conference.
Roethlisberger went to the locker room on a cart in the second quarter after suffering the injury but X-rays came back negative. He opted to have the ankle re-taped and came back out to start the third quarter with a noticeable limp.
Clinging to a 7-3 lead and struggling to move the ball for much of the second half, Roethlisberger and Brown combined for the play of the game with 2:52 left to seal the victory. Roethlisberger found Brown on the right side with a short back-shoulder fade.
Brown beat his first defender and made three more miss as he took it inside and back to the sideline before racing to the end zone for a 79-yard score.
That came two plays after the Browns nearly took the lead, but Colt McCoy was intercepted by William Gay in the end zone.
The Steelers’ defense forced a pair of interceptions and has allowed a total of one touchdown in the past three games.
Peyton Hillis was held to 25 yards on 10 carries for Cleveland (4-9).