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Steelers top Browns to keep playoffs hopes alive

Pittsburgh, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - The Steelers cruised to a win Sunday and got the early help they needed if they want to sneak into the postseason.

Le'Veon Bell ran for a touchdown and set a long-standing franchise record as Pittsburgh kept its slim playoff hopes alive with a 20-7 victory over the Cleveland Browns at a rain-soaked Heinz Field.

The Steelers (8-8) can become just the second team to reach the playoffs after beginning a season with four straight losses. They came into Sunday's regular season finale needing a minor miracle, but three of the games have already gone their way, as the Dolphins and Ravens both lost and are eliminated from postseason contention.

The final AFC wild card team will be the Steelers or the San Diego Chargers, who can steal the last spot with a win against a Chiefs team that will likely rest their starters with the No. 5 seed already locked up.

"I'm proud of the group and their ability to stay focused," Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said after the win. "It's been a trying journey but a rewarding one."

Bell totaled 96 yards from scrimmage and amassed 1,259 on the season, giving him the franchise rookie record previously set by Franco Harris in 1972.

"It's an honor to even be in the same category with Franco Harris, one of the greatest runners to come through here," Bell said. "Just to be mentioned with him is a great accomplishment."

Ben Roethlisberger threw for 179 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions for the Steelers, who have won 10 consecutive home games against the Browns.

Cleveland (4-12) finished another forgettable season with seven straight losses. Jason Campbell completed just 23-of-41 passes for 240 yards with a touchdown and an interception, while Josh Gordon ended his huge campaign with a relatively quiet seven catches for 82 yards.

Browns head coach Rob Chudzinski is rumored to be on the hot seat after just one year at the helm.

"It was a difficult day. It's been a difficult season," said Chudzinski.

The Browns had a mere 97 yards of offense in the first half, but had 104 in third quarter and reached the red zone on the final play before the fourth.

The promising drive, however, went for naught.

Edwin Baker was stuffed short of a first down on 3rd-and-1 and Campbell's jump ball intended for Gordon fell incomplete in the end zone to turn the ball over on downs for the third time in the game.

Shaun Suisham's 32-yard field goal put the Steelers on top, 20-0, with 8:26 remaining, and Fozzy Whittaker's 35-yard touchdown off a screen pass on one of Cleveland's final possessions spoiled the Steelers' bid for a shutout.

Pittsburgh went 62 yards in nine plays on its opening drive and jumped in front on Roethlisberger's 9-yard touchdown pass to Jerricho Cotchery, who kept the drive alive with a 12-yard reception on 3rd-and-10.

Cleveland had the ball in Pittsburgh territory three times in the first half. Campbell was picked off once, threw an incomplete pass on fourth down the next trip down, and the team opted to punt the ball away at the Pittsburgh 33-yard line late in the half.

The punt, which netted just 13 yards when it went into the end zone, followed a lengthy 14-play, 67-yard trek that saw Pittsburgh chew up over eight minutes off the clock. Bell carried the load and barreled into the end zone from five yards out to give Pittsburgh a 14-0 lead going into the break.

Suisham extended Pittsburgh's lead with a 30-yard field goal with 3:54 remaining in the third quarter.

Game Notes

The Steelers have not had a losing season since 2003 ... With nine catches for 87 yards, Pittsburgh's Antonio Brown became the first player in NFL history to record at least five receptions and 50 yards in all 16 games of a season ...Brown finished second in the NFL in receiving yards (1,499) behind Gordon's 1,646 ... Roethlisberger improved to 17-1 against the Browns ... Baker gained 69 yards on 18 carries.

12/29 18:06:29 ET

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Standings

 2013 American Football Conference Standings 
East Division W L T Pct. PF PA Home Away Div Conf
y-New England 12 4 0 .750 444 338 8-0 4-4 4-2 9-3
NY Jets 8 8 0 .500 290 387 6-2 2-6 3-3 5-7
Miami 8 8 0 .500 317 335 4-4 4-4 2-4 7-5
Buffalo 6 10 0 .375 339 388 4-4 2-6 3-3 5-7
 
North Division W L T Pct. PF PA Home Away Div Conf
y-Cincinnati 11 5 0 .688 430 305 8-0 3-5 3-3 8-4
Pittsburgh 8 8 0 .500 379 370 5-3 3-5 4-2 6-6
Baltimore 8 8 0 .500 320 352 6-2 2-6 3-3 6-6
Cleveland 4 12 0 .250 308 406 3-5 1-7 2-4 3-9
 
South Division W L T Pct. PF PA Home Away Div Conf
y-Indianapolis 11 5 0 .688 391 336 6-2 5-3 6-0 9-3
Tennessee 7 9 0 .438 362 381 3-5 4-4 2-4 6-6
Jacksonville 4 12 0 .250 247 449 1-7 3-5 3-3 4-8
Houston 2 14 0 .125 276 428 1-7 1-7 1-5 2-10
 
West Division W L T Pct. PF PA Home Away Div Conf
y-Denver 13 3 0 .813 606 399 7-1 6-2 5-1 9-3
x-Kansas City 11 5 0 .688 430 305 5-3 6-2 2-4 7-5
x-San Diego 9 7 0 .563 396 348 5-3 4-4 4-2 6-6
Oakland 4 12 0 .250 322 453 3-5 1-7 1-5 4-8
 
x= clinched playoff berth
y= clinched division title
 2013 National Football Conference Standings 
East Division W L T Pct. PF PA Home Away Div Conf
y-Philadelphia 10 6 0 .625 442 382 4-4 6-2 4-2 9-3
Dallas 8 8 0 .500 439 432 5-3 3-5 5-1 7-5
NY Giants 7 9 0 .438 294 383 4-4 3-5 3-3 6-6
Washington 3 13 0 .188 334 478 2-6 1-7 0-6 1-11
 
North Division W L T Pct. PF PA Home Away Div Conf
y-Green Bay 8 7 1 .531 417 428 4-3-1 4-4 3-2-1 6-5-1
Chicago 8 8 0 .500 445 478 5-3 3-5 2-4 4-8
Detroit 7 9 0 .438 395 376 4-4 3-5 4-2 6-6
Minnesota 5 10 1 .344 391 480 5-3 0-7-1 2-3-1 4-7-1
 
South Division W L T Pct. PF PA Home Away Div Conf
y-Carolina 12 4 0 .750 366 241 7-1 5-3 5-1 9-3
x-New Orleans 11 5 0 .688 414 304 8-0 3-5 5-1 9-3
Atlanta 4 12 0 .250 353 443 3-5 1-7 1-5 3-9
Tampa Bay 4 12 0 .250 288 389 3-5 1-7 1-5 2-10
 
West Division W L T Pct. PF PA Home Away Div Conf
y-Seattle 13 3 0 .813 417 231 7-1 6-2 4-2 10-2
x-San Francisco 12 4 0 .750 406 272 6-2 6-2 5-1 9-3
Arizona 10 6 0 .625 379 324 6-2 4-4 2-4 6-6
St. Louis 7 9 0 .438 348 364 5-3 2-6 1-5 4-8
 
x= clinched playoff berth
y= clinched division title
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Scoreboard
Local
7:05pm Tonight
NOR
DUR
 
Final
WAS 3
STL 4
Final
CLE 0
TOR 5
Final
DET 5
ANA 2
 
Final
BOS 4
BAL 2
7th
KAN 5
MIN 4
 
6th
CHC 3
CIN 2
 
3rd
OAK 0
HOU 0
 
7:05pm Tonight
PIT
MIL
7:10pm Tonight
NYM
ATL
7:10pm Tonight
TAM
NYY
7:10pm Tonight
MIA
SEA
8:05pm Tonight
TEX
CWS
8:10pm Tonight
LOS
ARI
8:10pm Tonight
COL
PHI
8:40pm Tonight
SDP
SFG
Final
TOR 87
BRK 94
2nd
LAC 49
GSW 47
 
7:00pm Tonight
IND
ATL
9:30pm Tonight
OKC
MEM
2nd
STL 2
CHI 0
 
7:00pm Tonight
PIT
CLB
9:30pm Tonight
COL
MIN
7:05pm Tonight
NOR
DUR