The Pittsburgh Steelers and Cleveland Browns entered their Week 13 matchup with some unfinished business to take care of. After the Week 11 Thursday Night Football game saw a myriad of fines and suspensions to both teams, these two teams were out for revenge at Heinz Field for an early 1:00 p.m. kickoff.
This game was huge for both teams’ chances at reaching the NFL Playoffs, and the Browns received the opening kickoff to try and put points on the board. Baker Mayfield and company were able to complete several huge third downs, one for 15 yards to Jarvis Landry, to keep the drive alive. However, when they reached the red-zone the Steelers’ defense stiffened and forced an Austin Seibert 31-yard field goal to make the score 3-0 with 7:31 left in the first quarter.
The Steelers and Browns both exchanged three-and-outs to end the first quarter, but it was Cleveland who struck again in the second quarter. It was another time-consuming drive which resulted in a Kareem Hunt touchdown reception on 3rd and 5 to give the Browns a 10-0 lead with 7:46 left in the half.
Pittsburgh’s stagnant offense took over desperately in need of a spark, and they got it on a free play when Devlin Hodges hit James Washington down the sideline for a big gain. After the team reverted back to the Wildcat offense to move them into the red-zone, Hodges and company failed to put the ball into the endzone and settled for a Chris Boswell 39-yard field goal. The kick made the score 10-3 with 2:56 left in the opening half.
A rare Cleveland three-and-out gave the ball back to Pittsburgh at the 2 minute mark with all three timeouts remaining. Hodges took the ball and was finally given the chance to push the ball down the field. After a big completion to Washington, and another contested catch by Tevin Jones, Hodges hit Washington in the end zone for a touchdown.
Chris Boswell’s point-after was good, tying the game 10-10 with 1:00 left in the first half.
The Browns had several successful runs on their next drive , but the drive ended when Mayfield threw a pass and followed through into Bud Dupree’s helmet, injuring his hand. He left the game as the half ended with a 10-10 score.
Pittsburgh received the ball to start the third quarter, and took little time moving the ball into striking distance, thanks in large to James Washington’s phenomenal day. In the red-zone the Steelers looked as if they would have to settle for a Boswell field goal, but a pass interference call on Denzel Ward in the endzone gave them new life from the one yard line. The next play Benny Snell plunged in for the score. Chris Boswell’s point-after made the score 17-10 with 10:36 left in the third quarter.
Needing a response, and trailing for the first time of the game, Mayfield was able to come back and perform effectively under the circumstances. However, when Cleveland hit the midfield mark, it was Dupree who got to Mayfield, forced a fumble which was recovered by Cameron Heyward.
Devlin Hodges and company took the football and were able to turn it into points, thanks in part to big runs by Benny Snell. However, when it mattered most, in the red-zone, the Steelers were stopped and had to settle for a Boswell field goal, making the score 20-10 13:48 left in the fourth quarter.
After both teams exchanged three-and-out possessions, Mayfield worked his magic again, this time to Odell Beckham Jr. and a screen pass to Nick Chubb to get the ball into the Pittsburgh red-zone with relative ease. When the field shortened, the Steelers’ defense was able to force another Seibert field goal. The kick made the score 20-10 with 7:30 left in regulation.
The next play from scrimmage is one Devlin Hodges will want to forget. On a miscommunication between quarterback and wide receiver, Dionate Johnson did a comeback route and Hodges threw deep. The pass was intercepted, giving the ball right back to the Browns.
Mayfield and company were unable to do anything with the ball, and after a Javon Hargrave sack on third down the Browns were pushed out of field goal range and forced another Cleveland punt which pinned the Steelers at their one-yard line.
Benny Snell and a huge 3rd down catch and run by Diontae Johnson moved them out of their own end zone and continued to take valuable time off the clock. They had to punt the football with 1:52 left in the game. After a bogus roughing the passer call on Bud Dupree, Mayfield’s pass was intercepted by Joe Haden, icing the win for the Steelers.
The win moves the Steelers’ record to 7-5, and keeps them in sole possession of the 6th, and final, playoff spot in the AFC Playoff Picture. The team now has to prepare for a road trip to play the Arizona Cardinals in Week 14. Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black-and-gold as they continue to move their way through the regular season.