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Mendenhall likely lost for season in Steelers win

By Scott Brown
Sunday, Jan. 1, 2012

CLEVELAND — The Steelers will enter the AFC playoffs as the No. 5 seed but likely without their No. 1 running back.

Rashard Mendenhall may be lost for the season with a torn right ACL. Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said Sunday after the Steelers' 13-9 victory over the Cleveland Browns that he fears the worst for the fourth-year running back.

"It's not good when a guy goes down in open grass not touched by anyone," Tomlin said. "Experience tells me that's generally not good."

The defense didn't allow a touchdown for the second straight game, and the Steelers won despite their offense today at Cleveland Browns Stadium.

The victory in front of an announced crowd of 68,266 means the Steelers finished 12-4 for the second consecutive season. But it did nothing for their postseason positioning, as the Steelers didn't get the help they needed in Cincinnati.

Baltimore beat the Bengals and won the AFC North by virtue of its regular-season sweep of the Steelers.

The Steelers, who surivived a late drive by the Browns in a driving snowstorm, will play at Denver, which won the AFC West with an 8-8 record, in a wild-card game Saturday or next Sunday.

Steelers receiver Hines Ward became the eighth player in NFL history with at least 1,000 receptions. Ward, who caught five passes for 24 yards, reached the milestone early in the fourth quarter.

Ward was thrown for a 3-yard loss after catching a shovel pass from Roethlisberger, but that didn't stop him from triumphantly carrying the ball to the sidelines and accepting congratulations from his teammates.

That qualified as a highlight in a game that had few of them for the Steelers' offense.

The Steelers will limp into the postseason, given the high-ankle sprain that continues to hobble quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and the spate of injuries the team sustained today.

Mendenhall and cornerback Cortez Allen (shoulder) were among the Steelers who left with injuries and did not return.

Roethlisberger played the entire game and completed for 23 of 40 passes for 221 yards.

Isaac Redman took over as the feature back in the second quarter and rushed for 92 yards on 19 carries. But he also lost a pair of fumbles in the second half.

Troy Polamalu's interception midway through the third quarter set up the only touchdown of the game, a 7-yard scoring run by Redman.

Shaun Suisham booted a pair of field goals, allowing the Steelers to tie the game at 6 early in the third quarter.



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