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No Passing Grade for Malone in Steeler Loss

September 21, 1987| From Times Wire Services

CLEVELAND — Mark Malone honestly didn't believe he was throwing the ball that poorly.

The Pittsburgh quarterback threw five interceptions Sunday, including four in the second half, as the Steelers lost to the Cleveland Browns, 34-10.

It was the sixth straight loss for the Steelers at Cleveland Stadium.

"I came in and felt like I was throwing the ball well," Malone said. "The last interception was a good play by (linebacker Clay) Matthews. The other four--you're looking at three deflections and a great play."

Matthews and Chris Rockins each had two of the interceptions against Malone, who was benched and replaced by Bubby Brister midway through the fourth quarter. Malone completed 12 of 36 passes for 151 yards and no touchdowns. He was sacked 3 times.

The game was tied, 10-10, in the third quarter when Mike Johnson intercepted a Malone pass at the Steeler 23-yard line. Malone's pass hit wide receiver Louis Lipps in the hands, but Lipps dropped it as he was pulled down by cornerback Frank Minnifield. Then, before the ball hit the ground, it hit Lipps' foot and bounced high enough for Johnson to grab it.

Instant replay official Frank Sinkovitz ruled there was no indication Malone's pass had hit the ground before Johnson caught it.

Five plays later, Bernie Kosar scrambled to his right and hit Gerald McNeil for an 11-yard touchdown pass that snapped a 10-10 tie.

Kosar completed 17 of 29 passes for 174 yards with 2 touchdowns. "We had the whole team clicking," Kosar said. "All 45 guys, which is what you need to be successful in this league. It's good to be back on the winning track. Especially against a division rival. Especially against Pittsburgh."

Cleveland, which gave up 191 yards rushing in a loss to New Orleans last week, limited the Steelers (1-1) to 58 yards on the ground.

"We wanted to run the football and they stuffed us. It's as simple as that," Steeler Coach Chuck Noll said. "We made mistakes and mental errors on who to block and where to block. Our offense couldn't get anything generated."

The Browns (1-1) scored 17 points in the fourth quarter, including a 26-yard interception return for a touchdown by Matthews.

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