CLEVELAND - Either Browns quarterback Brandon Weeden doesn't care what he says, or he doesn't always think before he speaks.
Weeden gained no brownie points with coach Pat Shurmur when he said some of the passes he threw last week against the Dallas Cowboys were on routes that he practiced for the first time all week. It was his explanation for some of the high, off-target throws he made in a 23-20 overtime loss.
"It's not fair to me; it's not fair to the receivers; it's not fair to any of us when you get thrown into the fire and bullets are flying," Weeden said.
Shurmur saw things differently than the rookie quarterback.
"I disagree with some of that because I do think that we make an effort on the ones we're going to call," Shurmur said. "A lot of the plays that we practice, we've been running all year and you run them in training camp. It's nearly impossible with the amount of time and then the length of the season to practice every single thing multiple times."
Weeden eventually clarified his remarks, admitting that the receiving corps would be worn out if he threw them enough passes in practice to get in the amount of work that needs to be done.
"These guys can't run forever," Weeden said. "You want to make sure they're fresh throughout the week. Most plays we only run it once in practice. That means you're throwing it to one receiver. That means two or three receivers aren't getting the ball thrown their way. That's tough on them.
"We can't be out there for three hours. We can't go out and run every single route and make every throw. That's why I like to do it after practice."
Weeden won't get any sympathy from the Steelers' defense, which is ranked first overall and first against the pass in the NFL. The Steelers are fifth best against the run.
"The best thing about this defense is they have good players," Weeden said. "They've got guys that have been in the league for a long time. They've got guys that can tackle. They've got guys that are scheme-wise really, really good.
"They don't give up many big plays. They try to keep everything in front and they do a great job with it. They've done it for a long time, and I don't really expect it to change when we play them."
The Browns have been in position to win more games but haven't been able to close the deal. The lack of a killer instinct showed up last Sunday when the Browns let a 13-0 lead at halftime slip away in Dallas.
Weeden has been blamed for not coming up big at crunch time, but he did throw a 17-yard touchdown pass to Benjamin Watson late in the fourth quarter to give the Browns a 20-17 lead.
"If you look at him throwing a touchdown pass to win a game with a minute to go, you'd flip that question and say, 'Oh, geez, is that on him?' " offensive coordinator Brad Childress said. "I just tell you it's all of us. I'd heap too much on his plate to say it's all about the quarterback willing his way to a win. He's not going to go out and play in the secondary or rush the passer. He's going to stand on the sideline and watch."
The Steelers will be without quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who will miss a second straight game with a rib-and-shoulder injury. Byron Leftwich suffered cracked ribs last Sunday, which means Charlie Batch will get the call.
Facing a 2-8 team might be the perfect medicine for the banged-up Steelers.
"We believe that football is a man-versus-himself battle," Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said. "It's about our preparation; our readiness and ultimately our play. We're coming off a sub-par performance, and I expect the appropriate response."
The Browns have defeated the Steelers just four times dating back to the expansion season of 1999.