The Pittsburgh Steelers came into the Week 11 prime time game vs. the Cleveland Browns riding a 4-game winning streak. The Browns were looking to get on a streak of their own after beating the Buffalo Bills in Week 10, and it set the stage for a huge AFC North division game on Thursday Night Football.
The Steelers received the opening kickoff after the Browns deferred their possession to the second half, and the offensive start for Pittsburgh was less than impressive. In fact, they failed to gain a single yard.
After a Jordan Berry punt, Baker Mayfield hit Kareem Hunt for a huge third down conversion, and the next play from scrimmage saw Odell Beckham Jr. get behind Steven Nelson for the huge gain down to the one yard line. The next play Baker Mayfield plunged into the end-zone for the first score of the game. After the extra point, the Browns took a 7-0 lead with 11:07 left in the first quarter.
Rudolph would respond on his second drive, moving the ball into Cleveland territory after a defensive pass interference call on Denzel Ward, but the drive would stall and Chris Boswell would be called on for a 44-yard field goal attempt. When Berry mishandled the snap Boswell yanked the kick left, and it kept the score 7-0 in favor of Cleveland.
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.
With the Browns starting the second half with the ball, the Steelers’ defense did their job and got off the field. But more ineptitude continued from the Pittsburgh offense when Rudolph was picked off for the second time while throwing behind Tevin Jones during a promising drive.
Another Browns three-and-out continued to give the Steelers a shot at coming back, and thanks to a penalty-filled drive for the Browns, on illegal contact and a defensive pass interference call, moved the Steelers to a 1st and goal situation. On a broken play, Rudolph found Jaylen Samuels who walked into the end-zone for the Steelers score.
Chris Boswell’s point-after was good, and the Steelers were only trailing 14-7 with 5:39 remaining in the third quarter.
The Browns attempted a 50 yard field goal at the end of the quarter, but Seibert missed wide right. This gave the Steelers their best starting field position of the game to start the fourth quarter. After a big pass to James Washington moved the ball into Cleveland territory, the team was faced with another 3rd-and-short scenario. After a failed third down play, they elected to go for it on fourth down and failed.
Despite the Steelers’ defense keeping the offense within striking distance, Mason Rudolph’s second interception all but iced the game. After the third Steelers turnover of the night, Mayfield found Steven Carlson in the back of the end zone on third down for the touchdown. It made the score 21-7 with 5:25 left in the fourth quarter.
Rudolph’s third interception of the game iced the victory for the Browns, and left the Steelers wanting to head back to Pittsburgh as soon as physically possible.
The loss moves the Steelers’ record back to .500 as they now prepare for the Cincinnati Bengals, in Cincinnati, in Week 12. In the meantime, the team will have to worry about getting healthy before they can think about any type of serious playoff push. Stay tuned to BTSC for the lateset news and notes surrounding the black-and-gold as they head get an extended break before playing again.