Both teams exchanged punts, but Mayfield and the Browns were the next to draw blood. After a defensive pass interference call on Joe Haden in the end zone, Mayfield hit Jarvis Landry for the Browns’ second touchdown, and extended their lead to 14-0 with 9:55 left in the second quarter.
Pittsburgh’s next drive looked promising, but when facing a 3rd-and-1, again, the team failed to gain any positive yardage. This time, they went for it on 4th-and-2, but failed when pressure got to Rudolph and he had to throw it away in the direction of Vance McDonald.
The Steelers’ defense started to do their job and forced two Cleveland punts, but the Pittsburgh offense remained anemic in every sense of the word. With James Conner and JuJu Smith-Schuster out of the game due to injury, Randy Fichtner dialed up a flea flicker to Tevin Jones. Denzel Ward tipped the ball in the air and it was intercepted by Morgan Burnett.
It set up the Cleveland offense with tremendous field position, but when they had to settle for a field goal attempt Austin Seibert’s kick 44-yard attempt sailed wide right, giving Pittsburgh new life.
Rudolph had two quick passes to Vance McDonald and Diontae Johnson to move the ball to the Cleveland 28 yard line, but two negative plays pushed the team out of field goal range and head into halftime trailing 14-0.