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Steelers run over Browns

Parker breaks a 36-year-old Pittsburgh record with 223 yards on the ground in a chilly 27-7 victory.

December 08, 2006|From the Associated Press

Pittsburgh Steelers running backs are supposed to be big and strong, rugged and durable, perfect symbols like Jerome Bettis and Franco Harris of a tough-as-it-gets franchise. Willie Parker is much different, and he finds himself in their record book because of it.

Parker, a speed back in an offense built around power, broke the Steelers' single-game rushing record with 223 yards and Pittsburgh excelled as usual in cold weather by roughing up the Cleveland Browns, 27-7, Thursday night.

Parker, the first player in Steelers history to have two 200-yard games in a season, broke John "Frenchy" Fuqua's record of 218 yards against Philadelphia in 1970.

"This [record] was nice, but all those accolades come -- and then they go," Parker said. "The best thing was the win."

Parker, the fastest running back in Steelers history and the first since Bettis in 2000-01 with consecutive 1,000-yard seasons, broke Fuqua's record early in the fourth quarter and might have approached 300 yards if the game had been closer.

The Steelers ran the ball so well, tackle Marvel Smith said, the Browns' defensive players were yelling at each other in the huddle.

"There's no better feeling than that, when they know you're going to run it and they still can't stop it," Smith said. "We rammed it down their throats."

The Steelers (6-7) withstood temperatures in the teens, a wind chill that was below zero in the second half and an occasional snow flake to win their seventh in a row against their Rust Belt rival, following up a 41-0 rout in Cleveland last December and a 24-20 comeback victory last month in Cleveland. Pittsburgh is one of the NFL's best clubs when the weather gets bad and the games usually are more important, going 21-6 past Dec. 1 since 2001.

The Browns (4-9), assured now of their fourth consecutive losing season, are 2-11 in December the last three seasons.

"It was cold, but both teams have to play in it -- and they caught and ran the ball fine," Browns tight end Steve Heiden said.

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