By Gerry Dulac, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
It might be a little too late, but the Steelers' offense is beginning to reverse a pattern. Instead of piling up turnovers, they are piling up yards. Instead of giving the ball away, they are moving it up and down the field.
Time is running out on the Steelers' season, barring some frantic, unexpected finish in the final three weeks. But their offense finally hit its stride Thursday night in a 27-7 victory against the Cleveland Browns. On a night when the wind chill dropped the feel-like temperature to a Jeff Reed field goal, the offense warmed up and cut through the Browns like a hot knife through stick margarine.
Ben Roethlisberger started it with a perfect 49-yard touchdown strike into the wind to Nate Washington, orchestrating a passing game that produced 225 yards and no interceptions. In between, there were scoring drives of 97 and 91 yards. And Willie Parker finished it with a franchise-record 223 yards rushing that included six runs of 11 yards or longer.
When it was all over at Heinz Field, the Steelers had amassed a season-high 528 yards offense, their highest total since Ken Whisenhunt became their offensive coordinator in 2004
"We feel we have the confidence to come back like we did in the fourth quarter in Cleveland," Whisenhunt said, referring to the Steelers 24-20 victory Nov. 19 against the Browns. "But our style is to do what we did [Thursday] night."
What the Steelers did to the Browns would be any team's desired style. They passed for 225 yards, rushed for a season-high 303 yards and possessed the ball for 38 minutes, 47 seconds, also a season high.
That they did it on a poor field in a blustery wind only further illustrated the efficiency with which the offense gouged the Browns.
"It was tough out there, but I think our guys did a great job," said Roethlisberger, who did not throw an interception for the fourth time this season. "The receivers adjusted to the ball. The ball was moving a lot out there. For them to be able to focus and catch the ball like they did, I give them a lot of credit."