Pittsburgh (6-4) opened the game with an interception return for a touchdown, then did nothing for about 57 minutes as the Browns took a 13-7 lead and appeared in control.
But third-string quarterback Charlie Batch led a nine-play, 84-yard drive to end the half with the go-ahead touchdown.
Batch hit Emmanuel Sanders for 27 yards as cornerback Sheldon Brown went for the interception and missed. Then with 13 seconds left, Brown was penalized for pass interference on a ball into the end zone for Plaxico Burress. The Browns blitzed Batch, but he had enough time to throw it up for Burress, who had gotten behind Brown.
The penalty gave the Steelers the ball at the 1-yard line with seven seconds and a timeout left. Fourth-string running back Chris Rainey was stuffed on his attempt up the middle, but a pack of Browns didn’t tackle him and he bounced outside and trotted into the end zone.
Browns coach Pat Shurmur argued Rainey’s forward progress had been stopped and pointed to the side judge running in to mark Rainey short of the goal line. But no whistle blew and the play couldn’t be reviewed.
The Browns defense looked strong until the final couple of minutes.
The Steelers’ conservative game plan with Batch featured an abundance of runs. The Browns (2-8) not only held up until the end, they forced three fumbles – one by each Pittsburgh running back — leading to all 10 points.
Starter Rashard Mendenhall fumbled in the first quarter and was yanked by coach Mike Tomlin.
Isaac Redman fumbled early in the second quarter, forced by end Juqua Parker. Nickelback Buster Skrine recovered at the Pittsburgh 10-yard line.
After two Trent Richardson runs, quarterback Brandon Weeden hit tight end Jordan Cameron on a 5-yard out for the touchdown and 10-7 lead with 12:20 left in the half.
The Browns extended the lead to 13-7 on a 32-yard field goal by Phil Dawson with 3:26 left. He’s made an NFL-best 27 straight field goals, tying a personal and team record.
Jonathan Dwyer completed the fumbling hat trick late in the half, but the Browns went three-and-out despite taking over at the Pittsburgh 34-yard line. A first-down sack of Weeden wrecked the possession and gave Pittsburgh another chance on offense.