Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE - WEEK 17 ; Steelers Sneak into Playoffs with Win, Jets Loss in Buffalo

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE - WEEK 17 ; Steelers Sneak into Playoffs with Win, Jets Loss in Buffalo

Article excerpt

CLEVELAND - Ben Roethlisberger looked up in the fourth quarter and noticed Pittsburgh fans twirling their Terrible Towels with delight. The Steelers needed help, and they got it.

They're still in the hunt for another Super Bowl title.

Roethlisberger threw three touchdown passes, Pittsburgh's defense dominated and the Steelers slipped into the AFC playoffs with a 28- 12 win Sunday over the Cleveland Browns, who are expected to fire coach Mike Pettine.

Needing a win and Buffalo to knock off the New York Jets to make the postseason, the Steelers (10-6) got both.

Leading comfortably in the closing minutes, Roethlisberger heard the crowd roar.

"I assumed there was a fight or a Steelers fan was beating up a Browns fan, he said with a laugh. "When I saw the towels getting out I kind of assumed what was going on. A lot of thanks to coach Ryan and the rest of the Bills and everybody in Buffalo. I know they're excited about 8-8 and we're excited they got us in.

Pittsburgh's bumpy season - the Steelers overcame suspensions, injuries and a shocking loss last week in Baltimore - will continue with at least one more game at Cincinnati. As usual, Roethlisberger did his part, throwing for 349 yards, including 187 to sensational wide receiver Antonio Brown, who had 13 catches and a TD.

"It's been a tough, 16-week fight for us, but we're where we want to be, coach Mike Tomlin said. "We're where we need to be.

The Browns (3-13) ended another losing season in disarray and doubt. Owner Jimmy Haslam, who vowed in August that he wouldn't "blow things up will likely clean house, ousting Pettine and general manager Ray Farmer. Pettine went 10-22 in two seasons, losing 18 of his final 21 games.

Pettine wasn't surprised by reports he was on his way out.

"I'm not into pleading, he said. "That to me is the resume: how hard the guys play, the effort that goes in, how hard we practice, what we do in meeting time, walkthrough, out on the practice field, how that carries over to the game field. I feel like we've done a lot of good things, but I'm the first one to tell you this is a pass/ fail league, and the results aren't there. …

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