CLEVELAND (AP) - Three teams in the AFC North are prepping for the playoffs.
Not this season. Not again. Not even close.
Isaac Redman replaced injured starting running back Rashard Mendenhall and scored a touchdown, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger made enough big plays on his sprained ankle and Pittsburgh survived a last-play heave into the end zone by the Browns (4-12), who will be on the sideline while the other three teams in their division go to the postseason.
"It's tough," Browns linebacker Chris Gocong said. "We are definitely a lot better than our record shows. There were so many games in which we were so close and they were decided by a handful of points, and if only a couple of plays had gone the other way we definitely could have turned it around."
"We just have to learn how to win these games," said kicker Phil Dawson, whose three field goals accounted for all of Cleveland's points. "It's not enough to put a good effort out there, but you have to actually make the plays to score points. We are close."
"We intended to win a lot more games than that," said cornerback Joe Haden. "The only thing that kept us going is we didn't really get blown out in any games. We need to find a way to come up with a big play, come up with the big stop, the big score and the season would be totally different."
"Now is the time to go out and play our best football," said Roethlisberger, who went 23 of 40 for 221 yards on his gimpy left ankle. "If you are a great team, you have to win on the road. We'd like to get it together, starting next week."
He was hurt on the final play of the first quarter, when he went down after a 5-yard gain and immediately grabbed his right knee. Mendenhall walked slowly to the sideline, slapping hands with some teammates on his way to the bench. He didn't return.
After the game, Mendenhall left the stadium on crutches, his head hanging in disappointment.
"It's not good, of course, when a guy goes down in open grass and is not touched by anyone," Tomlin said. `'Experience tells me that in general that's not good."
Tomlin said Mendenhall would be examined when the team gets home.
The Steelers survived two fumbles by Redman in the second half and then held their breath on the final play when Browns quarterback Seneca Wallace floated a pass into a crowd in the back of the end zone. Pittsburgh safety Troy Polamalu came over the top and got his hand on the ball before rookie wide receiver Greg Little could grab it, allowing the Steelers to escape.
It was no surprise Wallace's toss fell innocently to the grass. Little bounced the Browns way all season.
Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward had five catches and became the eighth player in NFL history to reach 1,000 career catches.
Ward grabbed a shovel pass in the fourth quarter, and although it lost 3 yards, he reached the milestone. Ward and Hall of Famer Jerry Rice are the only players with 1,000 receptions and more than one Super Bowl win. Ward was embraced by his teammates when he came to the sideline after his catch, but it was one of the few things worth celebrating on a sloppy day for the Steelers, who dominated the stat sheet but couldn't put the Browns away.
"It's the happiest negative-yard catch I've ever had," Ward said. "I always try to put team ahead of personal goals. But 1,000 catches and over 12,000 yards is not bad considering I was a third-round pick."
With the score tied 6-6 in the third, Polamalu's interception of Wallace at Cleveland's 43 set up the Steelers' go-ahead score.
On 3rd-and-2, Wallace rolled right, and feeling pressure from backup linebacker Jason Worlids, forced a pass to tight end Evan Moore that Polamalu read perfectly and picked off near the sideline.
"Troy made a great play," said Wallace, who went only 16 of 41 for 177 yards and lost all three starts as McCoy's replacement. "I probably shouldn't have thrown it."
Notes: Browns WR Josh Cribbs had a career-high 7 catches for 91 yards. .. Browns LB D'Qwell Jackson tied a season-high with 13 tackles..... Dawson finished 24 of 29 and has 1,155 points - 194 behind club leader Lou Groza. Dawson is hoping to be back for a 14th season with Cleveland, which placed the franchise tag on him this year. "I gave my heart and soul to this team this year," he said. ... Browns RB Peyton Hillis left with a knee injury after gaining 30 yards on 10 carries. Hillis is eligible for free agency, but it's not clear if the Browns want him back after his drama-filled season.