Roethlisberger returns from injury, Steelers lead

Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger returned for the start of the second half after injuring his left leg on a second-quarter sack in the Steelers' game against Cleveland on Thursday night.

Roethlisberger, who threw an 11-yard touchdown pass to Jerricho Cotchery to help the Steelers take a 7-3 lead in the half, gingerly limped off the field after lying on the ground for several minutes after being sacked by Scott Paxson. Defensive lineman Brian Schaefering also was in on the tackle, causing Roethlisberger's left ankle to bend awkwardly.

Charlie Batch finished the half in place of Roethlisberger, who was 8 for 9 for 102 yards. Batch was 0 for 2 and was sacked once.

Cotchery's touchdown came 8:48 into the game after Phil Dawson kicked a 20-yard field goal to give Cleveland the lead after the opening drive. The Steelers needed only five plays and 3:10 during their first possession to march 73 yards to take the lead over their AFC North rivals.

Roethlisberger completed all three of his passes for 45 yards against the NFL's top pass defense on that drive.

Pittsburgh running back Rashard Mendenhall had four carries for 18 yards rushing, but receiver Mike Wallace gained 21 yards on an end-around and had two receptions for 33 yards. The Steelers' Antonio Brown is game's leading receiver with three catches for 45 yards.

Cleveland initially was ruled to have scored its second first-quarter touchdown of the season when Colt McCoy scrambled for 2 yards.

After a video review, officials determined McCoy was down inches short of the goal line. Peyton Hillis was stopped before he got to the line of scrimmage on the ensuing third-down play, forcing the Browns to settle for the field goal.

The teams combined for three turnovers in a span of five plays from scrimmage early in the second quarter.

Steelers veteran Hines Ward fumbled deep in Cleveland territory after making the 991st catch of his career. Troy Polamalu intercepted Colt McCoy's pass three plays into the ensuing Cleveland drive, but Heath Miller fumbled at the Browns 9 after a 7-yard reception from Roethlisberger on the next snap.

McCoy, who has lost all seven of his career starts against interdivisional opponents, was 10 for 17 for 143 yards. Hillis had eight carries for 21 yards, and Chris Ogbonnaya had a 28-yard carry for Cleveland (4-8).

Hillis, who rushed for 1,177 yards last season, was playing in his third straight game for the first time this season. He was listed as questionable heading into the game after being limited in practice during the abbreviated week with a hip injury.

The Steelers (9-3) have won seven of their last eight and are tied with the Baltimore Ravens for first place in the AFC North.

The Browns held a 200-161 advantage in total yards in the first half.

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