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Steelers pull away from Browns in 24-10 win

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Steelers pull away from Browns in 24-10 win

PITTSBURGH (AP) Pittsburgh Steelers owner Art Rooney II milled about the locker room after Sunday's 24-10 season-ending win over Cleveland, offering handshakes to some players, pats on the back to others.

It wasn't a typical fall in Pittsburgh (8-8), which avoided its first losing season in a decade but missed the playoffs for the first time in three years after a dramatic collapse. Yet even with the anticipated departure of several bold-faced names, the Steelers remain committed to the plan that's made them one of the most consistent forces in a league where parity rules.

``There's going to be a few `old-school' guys like us left who can impart some wisdom and leadership,'' safety Troy Polamalu said.

Not so much in Cleveland, where coach Pat Shurmur's two-year tenure is likely down to its final hours. If he departs, the Browns (5-11) will be in search of their sixth coach since the franchise was reborn in 1999.

Though Shurmur hasn't spoken to new owner Jimmy Haslam, the coach - who is 9-23 in Cleveland - is anticipating working elsewhere next fall.

``I have kids in college, I have mouths to feed,'' Shurmur said. ``This is my profession and this is what I choose to do. That's it. That is how simple it is in my mind.''

Shurmur took a little extra time addressing his players during the postgame, perhaps sensing it marked the final time he'll get the chance. He declined to go into specifics, but his players could sense how much it meant to him even though the Browns failed to sweep the Steelers for the first time in 24 years.

``To me, he was trying to hold back tears,'' linebacker D'Qwell Jackson said. ``He put everything into it, and we were trying to do something that hadn't been done since 1988. With everything else that's looming over his head, it's tough. He's in a tough spot. The players appreciate it. We'll run through a brick wall for him; it's just too bad we couldn't get a win for him.''

In the end, Shurmur's last setback looked an awful lot like the 22 that came before it. The Browns outgained the Steelers by more than 100 yards (320-212) but turned it over four times, twice deep in their own territory.

Ben Roethlisberger tossed short touchdown passes to Antonio Brown, Plaxico Burress and Leonard Pope as the Steelers continued their stretch of nine straight years without a losing season.

``I said earlier in the week that we wanted to come out and finish the year with a win and have a good feeling going into the offseason,'' Roethlisberger said. ``That is what we did. I'm proud of the way the guys finish.''

Cleveland's third-string quarterback, Thaddeus Lewis, completed 22 of 32 passes for 204 yards with a touchdown and an interception while filling in for injured starter Brandon Weeden.

``We just need to find a way to win, stats mean nothing,'' Browns linebacker Craig Robertson said. ``You have two columns, wins and losses. That's all that matters.''

That's all that matters to Haslam, who made a splash when he purchased the Browns earlier this season. The former Steelers minority owner wants to build Cleveland into a contender, which hasn't been consistently competitive in two decades.

Shurmur insists the building blocks are in place and for a brief stretch this season the Browns looked as if they had turned a corner. Cleveland put together a three-game winning streak spanning late November and early December that had some doing the complicated math necessary to put the Browns in the playoffs.

The optimism died just as quickly as it arose. Cleveland came back to earth in a 38-21 whipping at the hands of the Washington Redskins two weeks ago, followed by a blowout loss in Denver. Given a chance to sweep their biggest rivals for the first time in 24 years, the Browns instead lost to the Steelers in the regular-season finale for the fourth time in the last five seasons.

The changes in Pittsburgh won't be so widespread, but with an aging roster and salary cap issues. Nose tackle Casey Hampton, linebacker Larry Foote, offensive tackle Max Starks and wide receiver Mike Wallace are among those who will be free agents.

``You want everybody back but you know that is not what is going to happen,'' Roethlisberger said.

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With another low shot total for Otto Porter, Coach Brooks says Porter needs to do more to help himself

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With another low shot total for Otto Porter, Coach Brooks says Porter needs to do more to help himself

After a night in which Otto Porter Jr. only took nine total shots, just two of them in the second half, many questions from Wizards reporters in the postgame locker room centered on how the team can get him more involved. This came on the heels of a seven-shot, zero-three outing for Porter against the Heat on Thursday and a preseason in which getting him more attempts was a persistent storyline.

It sounds like some are tired of talking about it. Point guard John Wall, who is part of the equation as the team's main distributor and highest usage player, put it in relatively strong terms.

"This will be the last time I talk about Otto Porter getting threes," Wall said. 

Wall went on to explain how it's a combination of defenses taking away the three-point line for Porter and the flow of the game creating better shots for others. It's a common explanation Wall has given on the matter in recent weeks, and it's understandable.

Head coach Scott Brooks has admitted his own role in Porter not getting enough shots, how more plays could be called for the small forward. But after the loss to Toronto, one in which Porter played just south of 25 minutes, he was a bit more blunt in his assessment.

Brooks believes Porter can be doing a lot more to help himself.

"Gotta get yourself open," Brooks said. 

When asked about Porter playing fewer minutes than usual, Brooks went on about the need for guys to play hard. That warranted a follow-up, as it seemed Brooks was questioning Porter's hustle.

Brooks explained what he meant by that in detail.

"You've got to move. You've got to set yourself up. You've got to run the floor. We got a fast point guard. I don’t know if you guys know that but he’s fast and if our wings aren’t running, what good is it when you’re going to have a one-man break? What makes teams play with pace is guys running." 

"I love Otto. You guys know that. But he has to play faster. He has to. Physically, he’s not going to jump over anybody and dunk over everybody, but he has to get himself into position. He’s a big-time player for us. He’s a glue guy. He makes winning basketball plays. He gets in plays but he has to do that consistently for us. He can’t do it for a half. He has to do it for the entire game. The guy can do it. I’ve seen it. He didn’t do it tonight but he’s going to bounce back. He didn’t do it the first two games but he’s going to bounce back and do it. And we need it.”

Porter, 25, was the Wizards' most efficient player last season, but averaged only 11.5 shots per game. With one of the best three-point shots in the NBA, the numbers suggest he should have a larger role.

The Wizards insist they are trying to get him more involved. In their eyes, it's time for Porter to do his part.

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Bradley Beal honored to pass Gilbert Arenas on all-time three-pointer list

Bradley Beal honored to pass Gilbert Arenas on all-time three-pointer list

Saturday night produced a link between some of the best players in recent Wizards/Bullets franchise history.

With a fourth-quarter three, Bradley Beal surpassed Gilbert Arenas on the franchise list for career triples

Beal, an All-Star last season, has already established himself as one of the best to play for Washington in decades. Afterwards, he paid homage to the man whose record he broke.

"I was always a fan of Gil. He was Agent Zero," Beal told NBC Sports Washington. 

"I loved everything about him; his confidence, his swagger on the floor. Granted, everyone talks about his off-the-court stuff, but what he did on the court is just untouchable. It's untouchable. He's a legend, for sure. Part of me wishes I could have played with him and just learned from him in a lot of ways. That's an accomplishment for me. I'm happy I was able to surpass it because he is a legend, in my opinion anyway."

Arenas' tenure with the Wizards was epic for its highs and lows. At his peak, he was arguably the most dangerous scorer in the NBA. But his downfall both on the court and off has left him as a notorious figure in the game's recent history.

John Wall, who has assisted on many of Beal's three-pointers, played with Arenas back in the 2010-11 season as a rookie. He is happy for his current teammate, who now has a distinct place in the team's history books.

"He's probably the best shooter I've ever played with in my eyes, so it's great to see him accomplish that," Wall said. "He's going to keep setting the bar higher and higher."

Beal passed Arenas in just the second game of his seventh NBA season. He's only 25 years old, so odds are he will keep adding to his franchise record for many years to come.

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