Down 27-3 at halftime, the Browns used a high-tempo offense to score 24 straight points and tie the game early in the fourth quarter. The Steelers, though, went on a game-winning drive at the end of the fourth, punctuated by Shaun Suisham's field goal as time expired to give Pittsburgh a 30-27 win.
“I told the team afterwards this is a pass-fail league,” Pettine said after the game. “We failed. I’m proud of the effort in the second half but it’s a valuable lesson to learn. You’re behind 24 points at halftime. I don’t know what the percentages are of coming back and winning. I guarantee it’s probably right around one.
"There are no moral victories in this league, but I was proud of the resolve and the character that showed up.”
Browns quarterback Brian Hoyer went 15-for-20 for 173 yards and one touchdown in the second half in leading the comeback.
The loss to the Steelers was Cleveland's 10th-straight season-opening loss, and the Browns haven't won at Heinz Field since 2003.
Cleveland hosts the New Orleans Saints in Week 2 this Sunday.
WEEK 1 PHOTOS FROM AROUND THE NFL
- Ben Estes