Pittsburgh, PA – Ben Roethlisberger had three touchdown passes, and the Pittsburgh Steelers wrapped up the season by posting a 24-10 win over the Cleveland Browns at Heinz Field.
Roethlisberger was 15-of-23 for 134 yards and the Pittsburgh defense forced four turnovers.
The Steelers (8-8) snapped a three-game skid and avoided their first losing season since going 6-10 in 2003.
"It's good to finish on a positive note," Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin said.
With rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden and backup Colt McCoy nursing right shoulder injuries, Thaddeus Lewis made his NFL debut for the Browns. Lewis, promoted from the practice squad earlier in the week, completed 22-of-32 passes for 204 yards with a touchdown and one interception.
Benjamin Watson had 64 yards on seven receptions for Cleveland (5-11), which has dropped nine straight road games in this series.
"When I look at the game, once again, the Browns played extremely hard," Cleveland second-year coach Pat Shurmur said.
Sunday's contest may have been the last for Shurmur. The Cleveland Plain Dealer is reporting that Shurmur and general manager Tom Heckert are expected to be ousted by new Browns owner Jimmy Haslam and new CEO Joe Banner by Monday.
Cleveland threatened on its second drive of the game, moving the ball to the Pittsburgh 21-yard line. After Montario Hardesty, filling in for rookie running back Trent Richardson (ankle), lost four yards on the ground, Lewis was picked off by Pittsburgh safety Troy Polamalu.
But as they had done on their first two possessions, the Steelers failed to get a first down.
The Browns came away empty-handed after getting the ball back in Pittsburgh territory as Phil Dawson pushed a 39-yard field goal wide right, just his second miss of this season.
The Steelers' offense finally found some traction and Shaun Suisham opened the scoring by kicking a 41-yard field goal with 7:53 remaining in the second quarter.
Dawson then drilled a 51-yarder to even the score, but the Steelers retook the lead just before the end of the first half.
A fumble by Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon set up the go-ahead touchdown. Steelers linebacker Lawrence Timmons recovered the ball at the Cleveland 25, while Gordon suffered an ankle injury that forced him to leave the game.
After a defensive pass interference penalty placed the ball at the one, Roethlisberger found Leonard Pope to put Pittsburgh up 10-3.
The Browns were helped along by a pass interference penalty on the opening possession of the third quarter. Cornerback Josh Victorian was guilty of the 35-yard infraction that set up Lewis' 7-yard touchdown pass to Greg Little. The drive also featured a fake punt.
Roethlisberger responded by directing a 12-play drive that ended with his 9- yard TD toss to Antonio Brown.
Pittsburgh cashed in another turnover to seal the win.
Travis Benjamin went down to the ground to make a 13-yard grab near midfield. After the wideout got back up to his feet, Steelers cornerback Cortez Allen forced and returned a fumble 21 yards to the Cleveland 27.
Six plays later, Roethlisberger and Plaxico Burress hooked up for a 12-yard strike in the end zone.
Jonathan Dwyer paced Pittsburgh's ground attack with 52 yards on 11 carries ... Gordon joined Kevin Johnson, Eric Metcalf and Webster Slaughter as the only rookies in Browns history to record a reception in all 16 games ... Hardesty rushed 14 times for 37 yards.