The Pittsburgh Steelers and Cleveland Browns have made a yearly Week 17 matchup a regular occurrence in past years, and they did so again at Heinz Field to finish up the 2017 regular season. The two teams couldn’t be going in different directions with the Steelers already clinched a first round bye, and the Browns one loss away from only the second 0-16 season in NFL history.
While resting the majority of their star players, Pittsburgh lost the opening coin toss and the Browns chose to defer to the second half, giving Landry Jones and company the first possession. The offense picked up where it left off in Week 16 as they marched down the field and scored the first touchdown of the game on a Darrius Heyward-Bey reverse.
After a Landry Jones interception, and a failed 4th-and-goal situation, the Pittsburgh defense did not surrender a first down throughout the first half. After Tyler Matakevich tipped a punt, Jones connected with JuJu Smith-Schuster on third down to put the Steelers up 14-0.
The two score lead was short lived as DeShone Kizer hit Josh Gordon for a huge play to get the Browns to the 2-yard line. Two plays later, Duke Johnson punched the ball into the endzone to give the Browns their first touchdown of the game, making the score 14-7.
Jones moved the ball down the field on their next drive with huge passes to JuJu Smith-Schuster and Martavis Bryant, and on a 3rd and 3 inside the red-zone, Myles Garrett was called for roughing the passer. After the penalty was assessed, the Stevan Ridley was able to get the ball into the endzone for his first touchdown as a member of the Steelers.
On the Browns’ next possession it was a case of deja-vu for the Steelers, considering it was another huge pass play by Kizer to Rashard Higgins to move the Browns within a touchdown of Pittsburgh, 21-14.
To start the second half, Cleveland started with the football, and Kizer put together a nice drive, leading the Browns down the field for the game-tying score. His red-zone pass to Higgins was his second of the game, tying the game 21-21.
The game was tied for just 12-seconds after JuJu Smith-Schuster took the ensuing kickoff return 96-yards for a touchdown, and the Chris Boswell point-after made the score 28-21.
Kizer, and the Browns, were able to add to their point total on their next drive, and largely due to Kizer’s legs. After converting several third-and-long situations, the Browns had to settle for a field goal to make the score 28-24.
After a Jordan Berry punt, Cleveland was driving, again, but Duke Johnson fumbled the football on a would-be first down catch and run, and Mike Mitchell had the recovery for the first Pittsburgh takeaway of the day.
Despite not being able to turn the turnover into points, Pittsburgh would claim their second takeaway of the game, an interception by Sean Davis, but quickly gave the ball right back to Cleveland after another three-and-out. While needing a touchdown to take the lead, the Browns were stopped on 4th down, giving the Steelers their 13th win of the season, and moving the Cleveland record to 0-16 on the season.
The Steelers, who rested starters, finish the regular season with the No. 2 seed in the AFC Playoffs, and will have a week off before playing in the Divisional Round of the AFC Playoffs.