Originally posted on Football Nation  |  Last updated 1/1/12
It was a day filled with wind, rain, cold air, and snow. A perfect setting for AFC North rivalry football. Both teams came in to this game with highly ranked defensive units, Cleveland being the 10th and Pittsburgh owning the top spot. It was a long, and hard fought battle that ended in favor of the Steelers. Both teams quarterbacks were out the previous weeks with nagging injuries, Ben Roethlisberger suffering for a high ankle sprain and Colt McCoy with a concussion. Ben would get the start, but McCoy's concussion prevented him from play giving the starting spot to backup quarterback, Seneca Wallace.  Pittsburgh came out with a 13-9 win over Cleveland, and clinched the 5th Playoff spot in the American Football Conference. 

Pittsburgh's offense played mediocre today, but weather conditions could have been to blame. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger played just about as well as the wind would let him. He completed 13 of his 24 passes for only 130 yards. That would set his season total yardage to 4077 yards, which is the 2nd time he's gone over 4,000 yards in his career. He has wide receiver Antonio Brown to thank for that hauling in 1,108 of those yards. Brown finished the game today with 6 receptions for 90 yards. Another receiver that Ben has had some history with was veteran Hines Ward. Ward came in to this game needing only 4 catches to boost him to 1,000 career completions. He would leave Cleveland Browns Stadium with 5, gaining 24 yards from those completions. It wasn't a great performance by Ward yardage wise, but was really about the receptions. The running game suffered an injury to starting running back Rashard Mendenhall, who left early in the first half. He wouldn't return which gave backup Isaac Redman a chance to show everyone what he was made of. Redman had 92 yards on 19 carries, and 2 fumbles. It was good to see Pittsburgh get back to the fundamentals of running the ball, which could help in their playoff run. 

The NFL's top ranked defense in the league picked up right where they left off. They haven't allowed a touchdown in 2 games, and have not allowed an opponent to score over 20 points on them in the second half of the season. They allowed only 240 total yards today, and 3 field goals. Cleveland Quarterback Seneca Wallace threw 41 total passes, but only completed 16 throws. He had 177 yards passing, and 44 yards rushing. The only offensive player worth noting other than Wallace was wide receiver/ kick returner Joshua Cribbs. Cribbs grabbed 7 receptions for a total of 91 yards. Pittsburgh's defense had 2 sacks from Linebacker Lawrence Timmons, and Safety Ryan Clark. They added an interception by Troy Polamalu to the stat sheet in the department their lacking in. They have only allowed a total of 88 points to their opponents over the second haf of the season, which is  a 51 point difference from the first half. This shows how, and why they are the top ranked defense in the league.

Both Pittsburgh and Baltimore won today solidifying their playoff spots. Baltimore grabbed the 2nd seed, while Pittsburgh grabbed the 5th seed. The Steelers take on the Broncos next week in Denver. Look for my recap on their first playoff game next week!
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Best of Yardbarker: Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines

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