When does a loss not feel like a loss? When the Steelers chose to rest several starters to prepare for the 2020 postseason knowing the Cleveland Browns needed a victory to make the playoffs, the Steelers made the statement that health was more important than another victory. Although they fought hard in order to win the game, coming up only two points short against a team favored by more than a touchdown made it encouraging knowing the Steelers get to host the Browns next week with a much more impressive lineup.
After finishing up the 2020 regular season, here are some of the numbers involved in the Steelers 24-22 loss to the Browns.
The Steelers chose to leave four of their captains in Pittsburgh for their Week 17 game. Offensive captains Ben Roethlisberger and Maurkice Pouncey as well as defensive captains Cameron Heyward and T.J. Watt did not make the trip to Cleveland. Between the four players, that was 22 total Pro Bowls and 5 All-Pro selections (and counting) willingly not participating and returning next week.
While it seemed early in the game Baker Mayfield had all time to throw and their sack streak was in danger of ending at 72, the Steelers ultimately ended up getting home 4 times on the Cleveland quarterback. With sacks by Alex Highsmith, Stephon Tuitt, Jayrone Elliott, and Chris Wormley, the Steelers ended the regular season with the streak in tact at 73 and look to continue on in 2021.
On the day, the Steelers held the Browns to only 166 passing yards. Baker Mayfield was 17 of 27 on the day for 196 yards while losing 30 yards on the four sacks. It was only 21 more passing yards than the Steelers allowed against the Browns in their 38-7 in Week 6.
Unfortunately, the biggest reason the Steelers surrendered 24 points was because of the 192 rushing yards they allowed on the day on 31 carries. Browns running back Nick Chubb finished the day with 108 rushing yards on 14 attempts along with a 47-yard touchdown.
The Steelers did their best to make a comeback on the Browns Sunday afternoon by scoring 13 points in the fourth quarter. With touchdown catches by Chase Claypool and JuJu Smith-Schuster, the Steelers were only a two-point conversion shy of tying the game.
One of the biggest factors on the day ended up being the fact the Steelers were -1 in turnover margin for the game. Not only did the Browns interception stop the Steelers drive, it also turned into 7 points for the Browns which allowed them to hold on for the victory.
Although the Steelers came up just short, and the interception was a poor decision, Mason Rudolph showed some very strong qualities on Sunday. Throwing for 315 yards on 22 completions in 39 attempts and 2 touchdowns, it was the most yards Rudolph has thrown for in his NFL career. His previous best was 251 yards against the Miami Dolphins in Week 8 of 2019.
For the second time in his rookie season, Chase Claypool eclipsed the 100 receiving yards mark. Finishing the day with 101 yards on five catches and a touchdown, Claypool ties the rookie record in receiving touchdowns of 9 with Louis Lipps as well as total touchdowns by a rookie of 11 where he was tied with both Lipps and Franco Harris.
With 56 sacks on the season, 2020 Steelers tied their franchise record from 2017. It was the fourth straight season the Steelers have eclipsed the 50 sack mark and was the first time it has been done in the NFL since 1988.
Another record set by the Steelers on Sunday was having 3 players with more than 800 receiving yards on the season. With Diontae Johnson‘s 923 yards, Chase Claypool‘s 873 yards, and JuJu Smith-Schuster‘s 831 yards, it is the first time in franchise history the Steelers had 3 players hit the mark.
So there are some numbers to help evaluate the Steelers’ loss to the Browns on Sunday. While it was a loss, the Steelers played a tight game on a day where they were more concerned about being prepared for the following week than emerging victorious in a meaningless game. Now the Steelers get to look to next weekend in facing the Browns at home with the return of several players.
There were so many more numbers than the ones listed above. Were there any other numbers which stood out to you? Please leave your answers in the comments below.