The "old and slow" defense is starting to hit its stride. The Pittsburgh Steelers are looking like the same intimidating defense from years past in shutting down offenses and taking the ball away from them.
On Thursday night, the Steelers nearly had as many turnovers (two) as points allowed (three). Pittsburgh has now held its past three opponents under 10 points.
The tone was set on the Browns' opening drive, which went from Cleveland's 20-yard line to the Steelers' 1. One play after replay overturned Colt McCoy's 2-yard touchdown scramble, Pittsburgh linebacker Larry Foote hit Browns running back Peyton Hillis for a 1-yard loss on third-and-goal to force Cleveland to kick a field goal.
The Browns' only other trip in the red zone came on their second-to-last possession of the game. That ended with Steelers cornerback William Gay intercepting McCoy in the end zone on third-and-goal.
Steelers coach Mike Tomlin opened his postgame news conference by praising Pittsburgh's red zone defense (and not Ben Roethlisberger's dramatic return from a high ankle sprain). "It's the reason why we won the game," Tomlin said.
STAT THAT STICKS: 6 -- Steelers' opening drives in the past nine games that finished with a touchdown. Pittsburgh is 6-0 when reaching the end zone on its first possession of games.
OVERHEARD: "We aren't surprised by his contributions. We've seen it for two years on the practice field. This guy comes to work every day, and it's good football justice. We respect him in terms of his big playmaking ability, but we respect him more for how he approaches his profession at work." -- Steelers coach Mike Tomlin on wide receiver Antonio Brown, who had five catches for 151 yards and one touchdown.
INJURY LIST: Pro Bowl center Maurkice Pouncey suffered a high ankle injury shortly after Roethlisberger and didn't return. ... Tomlin mentioned after the game that safety Troy Polamalu may have tweaked his hamstring. "I don't know how significant it is," Tomlin said. "We just got him out of the game to exercise some caution."
WHAT'S NEXT: The Steelers (10-3) have a 10-day break before playing at NFC West champion San Francisco (10-2) on "Monday Night Football." The 49ers have beaten their past two opponents at home by a combined score of 49-7.