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Mistakes cost Steelers in 20-14 loss to Browns

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Mistakes cost Steelers in 20-14 loss to Browns

CLEVELAND (AP) Once they stopped dropping the ball and throwing it to the Browns, the Pittsburgh Steelers realized something bigger than a win could be slipping away.

Their season.

The Steelers committed eight turnovers - five fumbles and three interceptions by quarterback Charlie Batch - to make things easier on Cleveland and the Browns did just enough for a 20-14 win on Sunday over their bitter rivals to put Pittsburgh's playoff hopes in a pickle.

``We have to get ourselves together in a hurry and figure out a way to get some wins,'' Steelers tight end Heath Miller said.

With their second loss in a row inside the AFC North, the Steelers (6-5) dropped into a tie with Cincinnati and now trail first-place Baltimore by three games. Pittsburgh visits the Ravens next Sunday in what boils down to a must-win situation for a team that looked anything but postseason primed against the Browns (3-8).

By next week, Pittsburgh could have quarterback Ben Roethlisberger back from injury. But even Big Ben might not be able to straighten out these Steelers, who converted just 1 of 9 third downs, rushed for 49 yards and did little right after linebacker Lawrence Timmons returned an interception 53 yards for a touchdown just 71 seconds after the opening kickoff.

All four Pittsburgh running backs fumbled once, and it was fitting that Steelers wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders committed the final turnover with a fumble on a last-play, desperation lateral.

``If you turn the ball over the way we did, you're not going to beat anybody, that's just the reality in the National Football League,'' said Steelers coach Mike Tomlin, who has rarely looked as upset with his team. ``I'm surprised it was that close given the turnover situation.''

Batch, forced to start because of rib injuries to Roethlisberger and Byron Leftwich, finished 20 of 34 for 199 yards. The 37-year-old third-stringer wasn't the reason Pittsburgh lost, but he didn't make enough plays to shake the Steelers from their funk.

``I have to put it on my shoulders,'' Batch said. ``We had a chance to win, actually two, and I turned it over. Can't do that. I made some bad throws. We had all the fumbles, and yet we still had a chance to win, that's the crazy part.''

The Browns, though, hung on and finally came out on the winning side of a close game. In beating the Steelers for just the second time in 18 games, Cleveland improved to 5-23 against Pittsburgh since 1999.

``I said to the rookies, `You're all 1-0 against Pittsburgh,''' said Browns coach Pat Shurmur, who faces an uncertain future in Cleveland. ``You play a rivalry and you're trying to get some traction. This game we finished. I think that's an important message as we move forward.''

The victory came with a price.

Browns rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden sustained a concussion in the final minutes, requiring backup Colt McCoy to come in and finish off a victory Cleveland fans - and new owner Jimmy Haslam - savored as much as any in years.

After throwing an incompletion, Weeden fell awkwardly and appeared to hit his head on the leg of teammate Joe Thomas as he went down. Weeden was then replaced by McCoy, who suffered a serious head injury late last season in Pittsburgh when he was laid out on a vicious hit by Steelers linebacker James Harrison.

McCoy didn't throw a pass after coming on in relief, and it's too early to know if he'll be needed next week at Oakland. If he must play, the Browns are confident that McCoy, who lost his starting job when the Browns drafted Weeden, can get the job done.

``If it comes down to it, we've got Colt and Colt makes smart decisions and Colt's been ready to play all year,'' said running back Trent Richardson, who rushed for 85 yards and scored the go-ahead touchdown in the third quarter with a 15-yard run.

Cleveland's win also sent president Mike Holmgren out on a winning note. After the game, the Browns announced that it was the final game for the 64-year-old Holmgren, who has said he may return to coaching. The Browns went only 12-32 under Holmgren, but at least one of the wins came against the dreaded Steelers - now in trouble.

Several holding penalties also hurt Pittsburgh and wide receiver Plaxico Burress, re-signed during the week because of injuries to Antonio Bryant and Jerricho Cotchery, did not catch a pass.

The Steelers didn't make any excuses. It's not their way.

``We aren't going to have any team meetings, not going to sit in a circle and sing `Kumbaya' or anything like that,'' safety Ryan Clark said. ``We are going to do what we do after we win a game - go back to work and figure out a way to play better.''

Phil Dawson kicked field goals of 28 and 32 yards for the Browns. He has made 27 in a row since last season, tying his team record.

Cleveland's fourth takeaway set up Richardson's TD run.

Browns cornerback Sheldon Brown, picked on during the Steelers' late scoring drive in the first half, intercepted Batch at Pittsburgh's 31.

Two completions by Weeden got it to the 10, and after a false-start penalty, Richardson burst up the middle, ran through some arm tackles and scored to make it 20-14 with 5:25 left in the third - the game's final points.

``To finish a close game like that is big for us,'' Richardson said.

NOTES: Steelers rookie RB Chris Rainey scored on a 1-yard run after being stopped cold at the goal line. ... Steelers LB LaMarr Woodley left in the first half with a left ankle injury and did not return. OL Mike Adams hurt his left ankle in the second half. Tomlin said both would be evaluated Monday. ... The Browns are the first team to forced eight turnovers since New Orleans against St. Louis on Oct. 28, 2001. ... Tomlin dropped to 9-2 against the Browns. ... Holmgren will meet with Cleveland's media for the final time Monday.

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Injuries to Marshall and Perine will open the door for Kapri Bibbs to make the Redskins

Injuries to Marshall and Perine will open the door for Kapri Bibbs to make the Redskins

Following the Redskins' Week 2 preseason win over the Jets on Thursday, Jay Gruden said both Byron Marshall and Samaje Perine were "OK" after the two running backs each left the game with injuries. Marshall's was labeled a lower-leg issue, while Perine's injury was called a twisted ankle.

Timetables for their recoveries were then reported on Friday, and while the two members of the backfield escaped anything too severe, they will each be sidelined for decent chunks of time.

Perine will miss a week, according to Mike Garafolo. Marshall, meanwhile, is looking at a longer two-to-four week recovery, per Tom Pelissero. Those pieces of news hurt them in more ways than one.

Derrius Guice's torn ACL in Week 1 of the team's exhibition schedule meant that Marshall and Perine both had a big-time opportunity to step up and earn a spot on Washington's 53-man roster, spots that were harder to envision for them when Guice was healthy.

Overall, the two were slated to compete with Kapri Bibbs for what will likely be two spaces on the depth chart behind the absolutely safe Chris Thompson and Rob Kelley. Now, though, they'll be forced to sit until they're healed up, giving Bibbs more chances in practice and the two remaining August contests to earn Jay Gruden's trust.

Against New York, Bibbs struggled on the ground but led the offense with seven grabs, including a 29-yard gain off a screen play. That performance absolutely brought him closer in the race with Marshall, who scored vs. the Patriots a week earlier. Next, he'll need to prove he can run effectively between the tackles vs. the Broncos in Week 3, which will put some heat on Perine as well.

The 'Skins have 15 days left until they have to finalize their regular season roster. As things stand now amongst the running backs, Bibbs presently has a real shot at stealing a job from the two shelved RBs. But with the way this race has unfolded thus far, that can all change in a split second. 

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Familiarity for coach and GM should allow Capital City Go-Go to hit ground running

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Associated Press

Familiarity for coach and GM should allow Capital City Go-Go to hit ground running

Despite being a brand new franchise with a new roster and new facilities, the Capital City Go-Go will carry into their inaugural season a level of continuity. Both their general manager and head coach are familiar with what they are getting into and the people they will be working with.

GM Pops Mensah-Bonsu is no stranger to the D.C. community and the Wizards franchise. He made a name for himself starring at George Washington University, spent time with the Wizards as a player in their 2013 training camp and remained a frequent visitor to Wizards games as a scout for the Spurs in recent years.

"To be back in the community and the first general manager of the G-League team is special," Mensah-Bonsu said. "This is D.C.’s team. I want them to embrace us."

Head coach Jarell Christian played college ball in Virginia and goes back several years with Wizards coach Scott Brooks. Christian joined the Oklahoma City's G-League staff when Brooks was in his final year as head coach of the Thunder.

Christian began his coaching journey with an eye trained on how Brooks goes about his job.

"My introduction to pro basketball was under Coach Brooks and his philosophies. A lot of that stuff, I believe in wholeheartedly. That’s my foundation," Christian said. "I got a chance to know him through training camp and throughout that season. He and I developed a bond and a relationship that stood the test of time. To this day, we still talk often. It’s just another chance for me to reconnect with him and to continue to grow our relationship."

The Go-Go intend to make what they do as similar to the Wizards as possible. When guys like Devin Robinson, one of their two-way players, is called up he can step right in without a learning curve of the playbook or how they practice.

Having Christian in place will help that process in particular.

"There won’t be any issue or any slippage with guys going up and down to know what’s in store for them," Christian said. "A lot of the stuff that the Wizards will do, we will implement with the Go-Go. Just some offensive and defensive concepts. Some of the playcalls and the terminology will be the same."

"Whatever you see the Wizards doing, you will probably see the Capital City Go-Go doing, too," Mensah-Bonsu said.

The symmetry between the G-League and the NBA teams will also be helped by the fact they will share the same practice facility. Their proximity will come with many advantages from the Go-Go perspective.

"I think it’s going to help motivate these guys. We’re going to be practicing in the same place that the Wizards do and the Mystics do," Mensah-Bonsu said. "I think if these guys can see Dwight Howard and John Wall and Bradley Beal walking around every day, it will help motivate them to get to that next level."

"The exposure our players get with the Wizards [front office], the Wizards personnel, being able to watch them practice daily, watching their practice habits and what their routines may be, is really big," Christian said.

That element will also apply beyond the players. Christian, who is just 32 years old, will get to watch how an NBA coaching staff operates on a daily basis.

Christian has yet to take a tour of the new building in Ward 8, but he has seen blueprints. Among the amenities the Go-Go will enjoy that other G-League teams do not usually have is a dedicated dining area.

Many G-League teams do not go to that length.

"A lot of organizations do not provide food for their players on a daily basis, but we will. That’s the No. 1 thing in my opinion that’s gonna set us apart from our competitors," he said.

The Go-Go won't take the floor for their first game until November, but it seems like a good foundation is starting to take place.

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