PITTSBURGH, Jan. 5 (UPI) -- Tommy Maddox rallied Pittsburgh to four touchdowns in the final 19 minutes Sunday, the last of them coming on a three-yard run by Chris Fuamatu-Ma'afala with 54 seconds to play, giving the Steelers an amazing 36-33 playoff victory over the Cleveland Browns
Cleveland's Kelly Holcomb, making only his fourth NFL start, carved up Pittsburgh's secondary for 429 yards and three touchdowns, helping the Browns build a 17-point lead in the third quarter as they tried to win their first road playoff game in almost a half century.
The last of Holcomb's completions came on the final play of the game and went to Andre King for 15 yards to the Steelers' 30 with the Browns having no time outs remaining.
King could not get out of bounds in time to stop the clock and give his team a chance for a game-tying field goal.
Pittsburgh's comeback win will send the Steelers to Tennessee next weekend.
"It's one of those wins that you can't see happening, but you just keep hoping it will keep going the way it's going," Steelers Coach Bill Cowher said.
Owning a 24-7 lead, the Browns were threatening again midway through the third quarter when Pittsburgh's Mike Logan ignited the Steelers' comeback with an interception, the only Cleveland turnover of the day. Pittsburgh went to the no-huddle offense after gaining possession and the Steelers scored on four of their last five possessions.
"We came in here with the idea this was like a heavyweight prize fight, that you've got to knock them out because they're not going to quit," said Cleveland Coach Butch Davis.
Maddox, who took over as quarterback this year from the faltering Kordell Stewart, hit Plaxico Burress with a six-yard scoring pass to bring the Steelers within 10 only to have the Browns drive right back and produce a 24-yard field goal by Phil Dawson.
Pittsburgh next drove 65 yards and Maddox found Jerame Tuman in the back of the end zone for a three-yard scoring toss that trimmed the Browns' lead to 27-21.
Cleveland then appeared to put the game away with Holcomb marching the Browns 61 yards and throwing his third touchdown passes of the day -- a 22-yarder to Andre Davis. A two-point conversion attempt failed, but Cleveland had a 33-21 advantage with 10:17 to play.
Pittsburgh's next possession came up empty, Cleveland took over at its own 23 with 8:40 to play and ran off three minutes before having to punt.
Facing a must-score situation, the Steelers drove 77 yards en route to a three-yard touchdown pass from Maddox to Hines Ward. Along that march, Cleveland defenders dropped two would-be interceptions that would have clinched the game and the Browns were penalized three times for holding, illegal contact and unnecessary roughness.
Those penalties allowed Pittsburgh to preserve time and score with 3:06 to play. The Steelers, with that much time remaining, could kick deep in hopes of holding the Browns. They were able to do so when Cleveland's Dennis Northcutt, who had an otherwise sensational game, dropped what would have been a pass for a first down close to midfield.
"I just dropped it, plain and simple," Northcutt said. "It hurt standing on the sideline, knowing I could have secured the game."
After Cleveland punted, Pittsburgh took over at its own 39 with 2:35 remaining and Maddox completed passes of 24 yards to Burress, 10 yards to Ward and 17 yards to Burress to get the Steelers within scoring range.
Having used their last time out, the Steelers were facing second and goal from the three when
Fuamatu-Ma'afala scored on a draw play.
Maddox completed 30 of 48 passes for 367 yards, meaning the quarterbacks combined for 796 passing yards.
In addition to his 22-yard scoring pass to Davis in the fourth quarter, Holcomb hit Northcutt with touchdown throws of 32 yards in the first period and 15 yards in the third. He also threw an 83-yard pass to Kevin Johnson on the third play of the game that set up William Green's one-yard touchdown run.
Pittsburgh's lone first-half touchdown came on a 66-yard punt return by Antwaan Randle El.
Holcomb was playing because of a broken leg suffered by starting quarterback Tim Couch in last week's regular-season finale and he immediately created a quarterback controversy for the Browns going into next season's training camp.
"This is going to hurt. This burns inside," Northcutt said. "It's going to be very hard to move on."