Sports

Ben Roethlisberger throws for 3 touchdowns, Steelers beat Browns 24-10

  • Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Leonard Pope (45) makes a catch for a touchdown in front of Cleveland Browns outside linebacker L.J. Fort (58) in the second quarter of an NFL football game on Sunday, Dec. 30, 2012, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Don Wright)

    Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Leonard Pope (45) makes a catch for a touchdown in front of Cleveland Browns outside linebacker L.J. Fort (58) in the second quarter of an NFL football game on Sunday, Dec. 30, 2012, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Don Wright)  (The Associated Press)

  • Cleveland Browns tight end Benjamin Watson (82) gets past Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker James Harrison (92) after maiking a catch in the first quarter of an NFL football game on Sunday, Dec. 30, 2012, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Don Wright)

    Cleveland Browns tight end Benjamin Watson (82) gets past Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker James Harrison (92) after maiking a catch in the first quarter of an NFL football game on Sunday, Dec. 30, 2012, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Don Wright)  (The Associated Press)

  • Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Leonard Pope (45) celebrates with guard Ramon Foster (73) after making a touchdown catch in the second quarter of an NFL football game against the Cleveland Browns, Sunday, Dec. 30, 2012, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Don Wright)

    Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Leonard Pope (45) celebrates with guard Ramon Foster (73) after making a touchdown catch in the second quarter of an NFL football game against the Cleveland Browns, Sunday, Dec. 30, 2012, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Don Wright)  (The Associated Press)

Ben Roethlisberger threw three short touchdown passes, and the Pittsburgh Steelers avoided their first losing season in nearly a decade with a 24-10 victory over the Cleveland Browns on Sunday.

Antonio Brown, Leonard Pope and Plaxico Burress scored for the Steelers (8-8), who mustered enough energy to end a disappointing season on a positive note. Pittsburgh's top-ranked defense forced four turnovers as the Steelers won for just the second time in the last six weeks, a slide that knocked them out of the playoffs for the first time since 2009.

Cleveland's third-string quarterback, Thaddeus Lewis, passed for 204 yards with a touchdown and an interception in his first NFL start. But the Browns (5-11) dropped their third straight in what is likely coach Pat Shurmur's final game on the sideline.

___

Online: http://pro32.ap.org/poll and http://twitter.com/AP_NFL