Was there a full moon Sunday night? Halley's Comet? A solar eclipse? Some kind of rare occurrence that might explain a Cleveland Browns victory over Pittsburgh -- their third in the last 25 tries?
No, the only strange happenings were on the field and the Browns deserve credit for them. Their defense created five fumbles and three interceptions. The eight turnovers were the most for one team in an NFL game since 2001 and for the Browns since 1989.
Steelers backup quarterback Charlie Batch, who played like a guy who's turning 38 next week, and a serious case of butterfingers by his running backs played huge roles in the debacle for Pittsburgh. But the Browns took advantage with aggressive play in the secondary and some jarring tackles and strips that forced the ball out. The result was a 20-14 win that rewarded their continued hard work in the face of adversity.
Steelers coach Mike Tomlin marveled at the fact that the game remained close throughout despite his team's eight turnovers. He must not have been paying attention to the Browns' offense of late. They have averaged just 15 points in their last five games for a reason. QB Brandon Weeden continued to struggle with his accuracy, though he did fire a perfect strike to TE Jordan Cameron in the end zone for his lone passing touchdown. Featured back Trent Richardson is still not hitting the holes with authority, but he too had a shining moment on a 15-yard burst up the middle for a score that gave the Browns the lead to stay. The offensive line continued to emerge as one of the best in football in pass protection, keeping the rugged Steelers pass rush at bay. Weeden simply must perform better for this offense to emerge as a consistent threat. The Browns also need an effective possession receiver that can move the chains. One wonders why Josh Cooper, who served that role for Weeden at Oklahoma State, has remained inactive. Previous game's grade: D
This group actually yielded seven points -- the other touchdown was a pick-6 by LB Lawrence Timmons. Granted, the defense likely would have yielded more if Ben Roethlisberger had been flinging passes for the Steelers. But the five fumbles were a result of aggression and smart football. It's amazing how much better the secondary plays with top cornerback Joe Haden. The Browns are 0-5 without Haden and 3-3 with him. He played a role in three of the four fourth-quarter turnovers, including an interception on a deep pass intended for WR Mike Wallace on which he had perfect coverage. The run defense was stellar even without the forced fumbles, yielding just 49 rushing yards on 20 attempts. It is no coincidence that the Browns have surrendered only 112 yards on the ground since the return of the starting DT tandem of Ahtyba Rubin and Phil Taylor two weeks ago. Previous game's grade: B
Special teams: B
The Browns might have earned an “A” here if not for the continued struggles of P Reggie Hodges. He averaged just 38.3 yards on 10 punts, though he did boom a couple late and sent several inside the Pittsburgh 20. KR/PR Josh Cribbs consistently gave the Browns good field position with positive yards and the team even experimented with dual punt returners, placing speedster Travis Benjamin on his side. Both coverage units have become steady and dependable since early in the season. And PK Phil Dawson -- Mr. Perfect -- booted two more field goals and has yet to miss a kick of any kind this season. Dawson has nailed his last 27 field-goal attempts and if he doesn't make the Pro Bowl because he hasn't scored enough points, there is something seriously wrong with the voters. Previous game's grade: B
Coach Pat Shurmur must be credited at a certain point for keeping his players passionate through all the frustrating losses. His on-field decisions have been rightfully questioned, but the Browns are in every game and their inability to finish must be passed off at least in part to youth and inexperience. The Browns played with more determination and grit than did the Steelers. Defensive coordinator Dick Jauron designed a scheme that helped shut down the Steelers ground game, knowing that Batch was incapable of hurting his defense badly through the air. Their inability to go deep kept SS T.J. Ward honed in on the running backs and short passing game. It's no wonder he forced two fumbles. Previous game's grade: C+
Stay dialed in on the Cleveland Browns on Twitter at @CBSBrowns throughout the season with on-site updates from CBSSports.com RapidReports correspondent Marty Gitlin.