PITTSBURGH - Thad Lewis wasn't around to speak on his account, but several of his teammates were ready to offer their opinions on Lewis' first NFL game appearance.
Lewis started at quarterback for the Cleveland Browns in the absence of Brandon Weeden and Colt McCoy, both of whom suffered shoulder injuries a week earlier. Lewis played better than expected in a 24-10 loss to the Steelers, completing 22-of-32 passes for 204 yards, one touchdown and one interception.
Receiver Greg Little caught three of those passes for 38 yards, including a 7-yard throw for a touchdown. Lewis escaped the pass rush and scrambled to his left on the touchdown. He made a difficult pass on the run to Little, who caught the ball along the end line.
"Thad has that sort of south Florida swagger about him," Little said. "He always is well composed in any type of situation. Often times - and I joke about this - playing at Duke you're the underdog quite a few times. He was well composed and mild mannered."
Lewis was forced out after being sacked by linebacker Lawrence Timmons on a third-down play late in the fourth quarter. Josh Johnson, who was signed last week, fumbled when sacked by Timmons on the next play.
"I think he wanted to stay in the game," Little said of Lewis, who suffered a back injury on the hit by Timmons that required treatment. "I think he was healthy enough to stay in the game. You could see the dissatisfaction and body language he had coming off the field."
Offensive tackle Joe Thomas liked what he saw of Lewis, who spent 15 games of the 2010 season on the St. Louis Rams' practice squad and 13 games on the Browns' practice squad last season.
"That's about as tough of an environment and situation that a young quarterback can come into," Thomas said. "We're talking about 30 degrees, wind blowing, little bit of snow, in Pittsburgh and never taking a NFL snap. He did a really good job considering all of those things and gave us a chance for most of the game."
INJURY REPORT: Receiver Josh Gordon left in the second quarter with an ankle injury and didn't return. Gordon fumbled on the play, setting up a Steelers' touchdown. Guard John Greco injured a knee in the fourth quarter and didn't return.
Steelers rookie guard David DeCastro left in the second quarter with what was called a stinger (shoulder injury). The Steelers took a chance playing DeCastro late in the year after he missed most of the season with a serious knee injury suffered in the preseason.
SHORT SLUMP: Kicker Phil Dawson had a rare miss on a 39-yard attempt in the second quarter that was wide right. Later in the quarter Dawson was good from 51 yards.
Dawson entered the game having made 28-of-29 kicks. He is 7-of-7 on kicks of 50 yards or longer.
Dawson admitted that he miscalculated on the miss.
"I should know better after all these years not to aim outside the uprights, but I thought that was the best course," Dawson said. "The ball just stayed out there."
CHIPPY PLAY: There were several instances of extracurricular activity after plays. It started when Steelers offensive lineman Doug Legursky cut linebacker Craig Robertson in the first half. Ahtyba Rubin and Billy Winn were later penalized for unnecessary roughness on the same play following an extra point. Browns defensive tackle Phil Taylor was involved in several shouting matches with Steelers linemen.
"I got under his (Robertson's) skin," Legursky said. "I was finishing a play. He didn't like the way I did it. It all stemmed from there. I'm not going to change the way I play, and I'm not going to expect him to change his game."
LONGEST PLAY: Ray Ventrone ran 35 yards with a fake punt on an 80-yard touchdown drive to open the second half. The run tied Trent Richardson for the longest run from scrimmage of the season.
"I played running back in high school, so I'm sure the local guys weren't surprised to see me run the football," said Ventrone, who is from the Pittsburgh area. "I had 60 people watching me here today as well."
GOOD HOMECOMING: Defensive end Jabaal Sheard, who played at the University of Pittsburgh, tied a career high for sacks in a game with two. He finished with a team-leading seven sacks, including six in the final eight games.
"I just fit where I'm supposed to fit and hustled every play," Sheard said. "It was a great job by the rest of the defense and when the plays came to me I tried to take advantage of them."
STREAK ENDS: Cornerback Sheldon Brown was inactive with concussion-like symptoms, ending a streak of 175 consecutive games played. The streak was the fifth longest among active NFL players.
THIRTYSOMETHING: Steelers safety Troy Polamalu recorded his 30th career interception to end a Browns' scoring threat in the first quarter. Polamalu became the ninth player in Steelers' history to reach the 30 mark.
INACTIVES: Out for the Browns were Weeden and McCoy; Brown; Richardson; linebacker Adrian Moten; offensive lineman Jarrod Shaw and tight end Jordan Cameron.
Sidelined for the Steelers were quarterback Byron Leftwich; receiver David Gilreath; cornerback Justin King; linebacker Marshall McFadden; defensive end Al Woods; defensive lineman Hebron Fangupo and nose tackle Alameda Ta'amu.