The Pittsburgh Steelers entered Week 8 coming off a bye week, and sporting a 3-2-1 record. Their opponent Sunday at Heinz Field? The 2-4-1 Cleveland Browns.
These two AFC North rivals meet for the second, and likely last, time this season, and everyone is thinking about the Week 1 game where the Steelers turned the football over numerous times, and resulted in an ugly tie. Heading into this contest, these two teams were certainly headed in different directions. Pittsburgh had won back-to-back games over the Atlanta Falcons and Cincinnati Bengals, but the Browns were losers of their last two against the Los Angeles Chargers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
However, with both teams searching for another win, it was Mayfield and the Browns’ offense who would start with the football to get the game underway. Mayfield moved the Cleveland offense down the field with ease, but on 3rd and 3 in the red-zone Pittsburgh was able to stop the Cleveland offense and force a field goal attempt. The kick was good, giving the Browns an early 3-0 lead.
On Pittsburgh’s second offensive possession, on third down Ben Roethlisberger attempted to hit JuJu Smith-Schuster for a first down, but the ball was deflected off Smith-Schuster’s hands and intercepted by the Browns. Nick Chubb then took over and moved the ball quickly into Pittsburgh territory with two big gains on the ground. Nonetheless, the Browns’ drive stalled and turned into another field goal attempt by Greg Joseph. The 45-yard kick was good, giving the Browns a 6-0 lead with 2:34 left in the opening quarter.
After the first quarter, the Steelers had yet to even get a first down on offense, and the Browns’ offense continued to move the ball with ease against the Pittsburgh defense, but again were held to another field goal attempt. This time, Joseph’s 41-yard attempt was wide right, and the Steelers dodged a major bullet early in the second quarter.
When things looked awful, Ben Roethlisberger found Antonio Brown for the team’s first first down of the game, and the mojo continued between the two after Roethlisberger found Brown for a 43-yard touchdown catch. Chris Boswell nailed the point-after, giving the Steelers a 7-6 lead.
Might wanna throw someone on that @AB84 guy. pic.twitter.com/V7B0J4qHmy— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) October 28, 2018
The Browns’ next drive looked promising, again, but after cross midfield Mayfield threw his first interception, as Joe Haden snagged his first pick of the 2018 season.
Perfectly played. pic.twitter.com/qwD3cK5XCH— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) October 28, 2018
The Steelers took the football in hopes of adding to their lead before halftime, and were able to move the ball down to the one-yard line with just 10 seconds left in the game without any more timeouts left. On the 1st-and-goal play, Roethlisberger threw a quick hitting pass to Brown for the touchdown.
Doing what he does best. pic.twitter.com/zHRrqnnBKU— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) October 28, 2018
The Boswell point-after made the score 14-6 heading into halftime, and the Steelers to receive the ball to start the third quarter.
After halftime, Pittsburgh’s offense picked up where it left off, and moved the ball into Cleveland territory. But when Roethlisberger hit Stevan Ridley on a dump off, Ridley lost the football, and it was recovered by the Browns for the Steelers’ second turnover of the game.
Pittsburgh’s defense didn’t allow Mayfield and company to get a first down, and the two teams both punted on their next possessions. Jordan Berry pinned the Browns inside the 5-yard line, and the result on the next play was Bud Dupree being held in the endzone, resulting in a safety.
With the score 16-6, the Browns had a free kick, but the Steelers foolishly didn’t recover the football, assuming it was a punt, and it was recovered by the Browns inside Steelers’ territory. The Browns turned the gaffe into their first touchdown of the game when Mayfield lofted a pass to Antonio Callaway for the score. However, Joseph missed the extra point to make the score 16-12 in the waning minutes of the third quarter.
In much need of an answer to such a horrible course of events, the Pittsburgh offense, mainly James Conner, provided said answer. It was all Conner as he rumbled on multiple plays down the field, and capped the drive off with an incredible 12-yard touchdown run to give the Steelers a 23-12 lead with 2:42 left in the third quarter.
Man on a mission. pic.twitter.com/ThmaM5t4Is— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) October 28, 2018
Pittsburgh’s defense continued to fluster Mayfield, and forced another punt. Ben Roethlisberger, and Conner, took the new opportunity and drove down the field, but stalled within Chris Boswell’s field goal range. Boswell’s 42-yard field goal was not just his longest of the season, but extended Pittsburgh’s lead 26-12.
Several punts later by both teams, Pittsburgh started to impose their will on the Browns in every possible way. James Conner went over 100 yards, and after exiting the game Jaylen Samuels was able to get carries and the holes were huge for him to run through. The drive resulted in another Conner touchdown.
Sealing the deal. pic.twitter.com/Aj9U8VuyIF— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) October 28, 2018
The run capped off a 10 play drive, all running plays, and made the score 33-12.
Mayfield drove the Browns down the field in garbage time, and tacked on a touchdown to make be the final score 33-18.
The Steelers’ win over the Browns moves their record to 4-2-1, keeps them in first place of the AFC North, and keeps the momentum moving into their Week 9 matchup with the Baltimore Ravens in M&T Bank Stadium. This is Pittsburgh’s third straight win, and first home divisional win of the season.
Stay tuned to BTSC for the latest, and greatest, on the black-and-gold as they now prepare for the Ravens next Sunday.