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Steelers Clearly Heading North

November 04, 2002|From Associated Press

CLEVELAND — Even during the darkest moments this season, the Pittsburgh Steelers never considered throwing in the Terrible Towel.

"There are 52 guys in there that saved the season," said quarterback Tommy Maddox, who has led Pittsburgh's 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 touchdown passes and Amos Zereoue ran for a career-high 111 yards as the Steelers rallied from a 14-point deficit in the second quarter to defeat Cleveland, 23-20, Sunday.

With their fourth consecutive victory, the Steelers (5-3) took command of the weak AFC North, in which they have won all four of their games.

"You can grow from slow starts and having to overcome that," Pittsburgh Coach Bill Cowher said. "This team grew today."

Dennis Northcutt scored on an 87-yard punt return for the Browns (4-5), who came in hoping to avenge an overtime loss at Pittsburgh earlier this season and establish themselves as playoff contenders.

The Steelers had other plans.

"We obviously didn't make the statement we wanted to make," Brown quarterback Tim Couch said.

The Pittsburgh defense swarmed Couch all game and limited Cleveland to 193 total 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 to Cleveland's 17:50, and the Steelers ran 85 plays to the Browns' 42. Cleveland was also done in by 11 penalties.

Maddox, 4-1 since replacing Kordell Stewart as the starting quarterback, threw touchdown passes in the second quarter to Hines Ward and Mark Bruener to allow the Steelers to overcome a 17-3 deficit. Maddox, the former insurance salesman and UCLA and XFL star, completed 23 of 42 passes for 239 yards.

Todd Peterson accounted for the rest of the Steelers' scoring with field goals of 43, 28 and 42 yards.

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