PITTSBURGH, Sept. 29 (UPI) -- After replacing ineffective Kordell Stewart, Tommy Maddox threw a touchdown pass late in regulation Sunday before moving his team into position for Todd Peterson's 31-yard field goal in overtime, giving the Pittsburgh Steelers a wild, 16-13 victory over the Cleveland Browns.
Facing the prospect of a 0-3 start, the Steelers trailed by seven points with less than five minutes left in the fourth quarter when Coach Bill Cowher made the quarterback change.
The MVP of the defunct XFL, Maddox came on to a rousing ovation and played a major role in a bizarre finish.
Maddox capped a seven-play, 84-yard drive with a 10-yard touchdown pass to Plaxico Burress with 2:02 remaining to tie the game at 13-13.
But on his first possession of overtime, Maddox was intercepted by linebacker Andra Davis at the Steelers' 34.
Cleveland (2-2), which has played some of the craziest games in the NFL this season, could not win it as Phil Dawson missed a 45-yard field goal. Dawson's kick hit a lineman in the helmet before clanging off the left upright.
"I still hit the crossbar from 45 yards out," Dawson said. "I still must have got a good piece of it, even though it was blocked. I do not like losing to the Steelers, but we did today. I had my head down, kicked it good."
Dawson kicked a 33-yard field goal in overtime in last week's 31-28 win at Tennessee.
The miss gave Maddox a reprieve and he moved the Steelers 52 yards in 10 plays for the winning score. Maddox had an 18-yard completion to rookie Antwaan Randle El to the Cleveland nine.
Peterson was called upon to try a 24-yard field goal on third down and had it blocked, but because the ball did not go past the line of scrimmage and was recovered by the Steelers, he got another chance at it. This time, he was successful.
Maddox finished 11 of 13 for 122 yards. Stewart was 15 of 25 for 143 yards and an interception.
"It is a great opportunity for me," Maddox said. "You can't like that in this game. It comes at someone else's expense sometimes. Kordell has done some great things. I have nothing but respect from him.
"I know how hard the position is. I know that if it ends up that the interception gives the win to Cleveland, I know what I would have faced. That is just the nature of this game."
"You can get tired sometimes," Stewart said. "I am a warrior. I will not stop trying. I will give 110 percent regardless of what is being said. When I have my opportunity to go out an succeed, I have to go out and take advantage of it.
"Today it was not enough. It was a good situation for Tommy to come in. I am a team guy. As far as I know, I am the starting quarterback of this football team. How coach Cowher handles it, is how he handles it."
While the Steelers now may have some questions to answer at quarterback, they may have answered some on defense.
After being torched for 697 yards through the air in losses to New England and Oakland, the Steelers held Tim Couch in check. Couch went 16 of 29 for 144 yards and two interceptions.
"They had eight guys dropped into coverage," Couch said. "It is hard to throw the ball against eight guys in coverage, and we have to find a way to do it."
Cleveland did not use the no-huddle offense that baffled Pittsburgh in the first two games.
Couch had his most success on the game's opening drive, converting a pair of third downs, including a 30-yard pass to rookie Andre Davis that moved the ball to the Pittsburgh 11.
But the Browns were unable to get into the end zone and Dawson kicked a 28-yard field goal. Dawson capped a 12-play, 77-yard drive with a 28-yard field goal 39 seconds into the second quarter, making it 6-0.
Stewart finally got the Steelers moving and they appeared to take the lead when Jerome Bettis rumbled five yards for a touchdown. But Cleveland challenged the play and Bettis was ruled down at the one.
That proved to be a big play as Stewart ran for no gain on second down and fumbled the snap on third down. The miscue brought on Peterson for a 19-yard field goal that pulled the Steelers within 6-3 with 7 1/2 minutes in the half.
For the third straight game, Bettis found little room to run as he gained 25 yards on 13 carries. "The Bus" has rushed for just 101 yards on 31 carries this season.
Outside linebacker Joey Porter made a big play at the end of the half, intercepting Couch and returning the ball to the Cleveland 34. Peterson converted a 27-yard field goal to tie it.
"I think I have seen everything in the last three weeks," Porter said. "But I would not have it any other way. Us losing those two games and winning this one right now, it puts everything back into perspective and lets us know that nothing comes easy."
The Browns used a big play on special teams to take the lead when linebacker James Farrior blocked Josh Miller's punt and Cleveland took over at the Pittsburgh 41.
White capped the ensuing 10-play drive with a four-yard run on the first play of the fourth quarter to give the Browns a 13-6 lead.