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9 Winners and 1 Loser after the Steelers 38-7 win over the Browns in Week 6

After every game there are players who play well, and those who don’t. This is where the ‘Winners and Losers’ column comes from.

NFL: Cleveland Browns at Pittsburgh Steelers Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers were back on the field Sunday when they played the Cleveland Browns in Week 6 of the regular season. After the AFC North game on Sunday, it is time to see who performed well, and who left a lot to be desired.

Improvement was evident in some ways, and hopefully will continue, but the judgement process must go on. Players who play well can be considered ‘Winners’, while those who left plays on the field can be deemed ‘Losers’. It may sound harsh, but it is the crux of this exercise.

Let’s check in to see who fell on which side of the ledger after Week 6...

Winners

Minkah Fitzpatrick
Stat Line: 1 tackle, 1 Pass Defense, 1 INT, 1 TD

I wish I was brave enough to tweet what I was really thinking when I watched Minkah Fitzpatrick take a 3rd and 7 pass from Baker Mayfield and saunter into the end zone. “GAME OVER” is what it would have said. Even at 10-0 in the early minutes of the first quarter that one play changed the game, and set the tone for the remainder of the contest. That is a game-changing play, and I am happy to see Fitzpatrick back and making plays for the black and gold again. Hopefully this becomes a weekly occurrence!

Ben Roethlisberger
Stat Line: 14/22, 162 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT, 101 Rating

Roethlisberger’s stat line might not scream ‘Winner’, but he checked a lot of boxes for me in this game. The most notable was his intermediate and deep passing. Roethlisberger threw two great deep passes to both Washington and Claypool, and a really well thrown touch pass on an out route to Washington which he wasn’t able to haul in. It wasn’t the throw which caused him to drop the ball. Roethlisberger is putting the pieces together, and he is doing it faster than I expected. Any time Roethlisberger can be pulled for Mason Rudolph to play the majority of the fourth quarter it is a good day.

James Conner
Stat Line: 20 carries, 101 yards, 1 TD, 5.1 yards per carry

Remember when Conner was being replaced by Benny Snell Jr. after the Week 1 win over the Giants when Conner tweaked an ankle early in the game? What has happened since? Conner has not just solidified himself as the starter, but as a feature runner in the NFL. Conner had one of his best days of recent memory vs. the Browns. There wasn’t a huge run to boost his numbers. It was a grind it out style of game, and Conner answered the bell.

Offensive Line
Stat Line: 2 sacks surrendered, 129 yards rushing

The Steelers have been without Zach Banner since Week 1, has anyone noticed? I haven’t. The Steelers have been without David DeCastro for 2+ games, has anyone really noticed? I haven’t. At a time when fans were concerned about Matt Feiler moving to left guard, then losing DeCastro and Banner to injury, the line has been a bright spot for the team. Chukwuma Okorafor and Kevin Dotson have filled in beautifully, and the run game looks to be getting going at just the right time. All thanks to the offensive line dominating.

Rush Defense
Stat Line: 75 total yards rushing allowed, Kareem Hunt held to 40 yards

This game was labeled strength vs. strength with the Browns’ rushing attack vs. the Steelers’ rush defense. We all know who won this matchup as the Pittsburgh front seven absolutely engulfed the Browns’ ground game to the tune of 75 yards. In fact, those 75 yards were helped by garbage time runs by the Case Keenum led offense. The Steelers’ sent a message with their run defense in Week 6.

Pass Rush
Stat Line: 4 sacks, 7 QB Hits, 6 TFL

Baker Mayfield came into this game nursing a rib injury, one which Kevin Stefanski said he might have rested him if the game weren’t a huge AFC North divisional showdown. Mayfield was sacked 4 times with 7 QB Hits, but it sure did feel like he was hit more times than that. The Steelers’ punished Mayfield, without being penalized, and the pass rush continued to do what they have done all season, dominate the opposition.

Defensive Backs
Stat Line: 2 INT, 1 TD, surrendered just 165 yards

The secondary has been the whipping boys of the Steelers’ fan base the first four games, and rightfully so. Fans watched Deshaun Watson and Carson Wentz carve up the secondary, but that wasn’t the case on Sunday in Week 6. The secondary had two takeaways, scored a touchdown and only gave up 165 yards through the air. They should have had a third interception if Joe Haden hadn’t been called for illegal contact on a pass intended for Odell Beckham Jr. A great day for the secondary, but can they string performances like this together?

Chase Claypool
Stat Line: 4 receptions, 74 yards, 1 Rushing TD, 4 targets, 18.5 average

I did not expect Claypool to have another big day after breaking out vs. the Eagles last Sunday, and while many would suggest Claypool didn’t really break out vs. the Browns, he had another great game. Claypool led the Steelers in receiving, hit pay dirt again and his 18.5 average was outstanding. The professional game isn’t too big for Claypool, and his role within the offense is going to continue to grow moving forward.

James Washington
Stat Line: 4 receptions, 68 yards, 1 TD, 7 targets, 17.0 average

Every week there will be a player who will draw single coverage. It is up to that player to win that matchup, and this week it was Washington. Washington’s 68 yards and a touchdown were great to see, and his 17 yard average shows he was more than capable to handle to job when called upon.


Losers

Injuries
Stat Line: Devin Bush, Maurkice Pouncey, Mike Hilton

If there was anything which can be considered to be a downer after this game it would be the injuries sustained. Devin Bush tearing his ACL was gut-wrenching, but there were more injuries than just Bush’s knee. Maurkice Pouncey left the game with a foot injury, expected to be the same injury which kept him out of practice early last week, and Mike Hilton with a shoulder. We will find out more from Mike Tomlin on Tuesday during his weekly press conference, but the injuries were the only negative for me coming out of Week 6.