CLEVELAND - The Cleveland Browns' defense couldn't offer any answers to the Pittsburgh Steelers, resulting in a 24-9 Browns' loss Sunday.
The loss dropped the Browns to 0-11 and snapped a four-game losing skid for the Steelers, setting them at 5-5.
Cleveland's red zone defense held tight until the final moments of the first half when the penalty flags went flying. A holding penalty on the Browns led to an untimed down. Steelers' quarterback Ben Roethlisberger couldn't find with Antonio Brown but a pass interference called on Joe Haden proves costly as Le'Veon Bell carried it in on another untimed down. Roethlisberger found David Johnson on the conversion to give the Steelers a 14-0 lead at the half.
The Browns forced the Steelers to punt on their opening possession of the second half, but the Browns' ensuing drive attempt fell short despite being first and goal at the 1. Cody Parkey connected on a 24-yard field goal to get the Browns on the board, 14-3.
Browns' coach Hue Jackson said he wasn't pleased with the offense, noting there are still "little things" lingering that hold the offense back.
"We've got to get better and I take responsibility for that," he said following the game. "We've got to make better plays and we've got to do a better job of trying to score."
Amid a 15-play drive, Pittsburgh couldn't come through in the red zone, resulting in a 22-yard field goal for a 17-3 lead with three seconds remaining in the third quarter.
The Browns' offense took a relentless pounding by the Steelers' defense all day with no response. Kessler departed the game in the next drive after taking a hard hit from Lawrence Timmons. Timmons was flagged for unnecessary roughness and Kessler was replaced with Josh McCown as the team announced Kessler was undergoing evaluation for a possible concussion.
Jackson said after the game that Kessler will undergo concussion protocol for the second time this season and there's a possibility Kessler will be shut down. Jackson also said he does not believe the Steelers' defense played dirty.
"This is football and this is a tough sport," he said. "There were some hits out there and I didn’t think they were on the line."
Gary Barnidge notched his first touchdown of the year when McCown found him in the endzone for 14 yards with 9:45 left in the game. Parkey missed on the PAT, trimming the Steelers' lead to 17-9.
McCown was sacked by Ryan Shazier in the endzone and fumbled the ball, which was recovered by Javon Hargrave for a touchdown. With the extra point, the Steelers took a 24-9 lead with 3:36 remaining.
With two seconds on the clock, the Browns took a timeout but couldn't answer, falling to 0-11 on the season.
Overall, Pittsburgh accumulated 313 yards, 167 in the air and 146 on the ground. Roethlisberger was 23-36 for 167 yards. Le'Veon Bell paced the Steelers with 28 carriers for 146 yards. He also had eight receptions for 55 yards.
Cleveland totaled 209 yards, 176 passing and 33 rushing. Kessler was 7-14 for 128 yards and McCown was 14-27 for 118 yards. Terrelle Pryor tallied five receptions for 97 yards.
Jackson said he and the team will regroup before next week's home game with the New York Giants.
"We've got to go back to fix some things quickly," Jackson said. "I think all of our players, they're trying so hard to win and they're doing more than they need to... Sometimes, I think you just need to do the best of your ability and do that. We've just got to go play and do your job but it's not for a lack of wanting to."