The Pittsburgh Steelers, coming off their Week 7 bye, came into the Week 8 game vs. the Cleveland Browns on a two-game winning streak. The Browns were coming off a big Thursday Night Football win over the Denver Broncos, and the AFC North showdown had huge implications.
A win for the Steelers would have them leap frog the Browns in the divisional standings, and set them up to be in the playoff hunt for the foreseeable future. A loss would put them behind the proverbial 8-ball with 10 games left in the regular season.
Such a huge game saw beautiful weather in Cleveland, and after the Steelers won the opening coin toss, the Steelers elected to defer their possession to the second half, putting Baker Mayfield and the Browns’ offense on the field first.
Mayfield and company put together a tremendous drive to start the game. Mixing between the run and pass they easily moved the ball into the red-zone, but the Steelers’ defense stiffened and forced a field goal. The field goal resulted in a 3-0 Browns lead with 8:09 remaining in the first quarter.
Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers’ offense took the field, and the drive started out promising. Najee Harris had room to run and Roethlisberger hit rookie Pat Freiermuth early and often to get the ball near midfield. An illegal formation penalty on Chuks Okorafor on third down killed the drive, and forced Pressley Harvin III into early action.
Mayfield and the offense picked up where they left off on their previous drive, and after crossing midfield into Pittsburgh territory ran a sweep on 3rd and 2 which came up one yard short. At the end of the first quarter, the Browns faced a difficult decision on a 4th and 1 play. The Browns decided to go for it on 4th and 1 to start the second quarter, and Nick Chubb was stopped for no gain for a turnover on downs.
The Steelers were able to turn that turnover into points; however, the drive was marred by penalties. On a run by Ray-Ray McCloud which looked to get the Steelers inside the 5 yard line was negated by a hold on James Washington, and several other penalties thwarted the drive and ended in a Chris Boswell field goal. The kick made the score 3-3 with 9:18 left in the half.
Neither offense was able to muster a drive in their next possessions, but after a Cleveland three-and-out the Steelers put together another impressive drive. After a big third down completion to Diontae Johnson, and 17-yard run by Chase Claypool, Najee Harris’ hard-nosed running put the Steelers in the red-zone at the two-minute warning.
After a failed third down, it looked like the Steelers would take a Chris Boswell chip shot field goal to give them the lead. Instead, they faked the field goal and it fell incomplete. Boswell, who was hit late on the play, was injured and the Steelers defense took over. The Browns drive didn’t result in points, and the score remained 3-3 at halftime.
Cleveland’s offense did what they did to start the game, and that was put forth a dominant drive. The only difference in the third quarter drive, compared to the first quarter drive, was how it ended. Facing second and goal, D’Ernest Johnson walked into the end zone for the first touchdown of the game. After the point-after, it was 10-3 with 9:36 left in the third quarter.
Desperately needing a drive to regain some momentum, Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers’ offense put together the must-needed drive. A 4th and 1 conversion by Najee Harris set up big completions to Chase Claypool and Pat Freiermuth to put the Steelers in the red-zone. But play calling got dicey for the Steelers in the red area with Chris Boswell out of the game with a concussion.
On second and goal it was Najee Harris going over the top for the touchdown, but with no kicker the Steelers had to go for the two-point conversion.
On the conversion, Roethlisberger kept the ball and looked to give the team the lead, but a holding call on Kendrick Green negated the play. The conversion 10 yards back fell incomplete making the score 10-9 in favor of the Browns with 3:39 left in the quarter.
After a Pressley Harvin kickoff went out of bounds, Cleveland started with the ball at the 40-yard line. The Steelers’ defense was able to force a three-and-out, and Najee Harris single-handedly put the offense in Cleveland territory to end the third quarter.
The drive continued deep into Cleveland territory, and a big catch and run by Chase Claypool moved the ball inside the 5-yard line. After three straight failed plays, the team faced a 4th down play from the two-yard line and Roethlisberger hit Pat Freiermuth in the back of the end-zone for the touchdown.
The two-point conversion failed, making the score 15-10 with 11:19 left in regulation.
Cleveland’s offense took the field and had a great game plan to move the ball on the Pittsburgh defense. Several passes to David Njoku moved the ball into Pittsburgh territory, and a Baker Mayfield scramble for a first down had the crowd going crazy. The next pass play was the Jarvis Landry, who fumbled while trying to get more yards after the catch, and was recovered by T.J. Watt.
It was the first turnover of the game, and gave the Steelers’ offense the ball at the 20-yard line. However, a three-and-out is what took place and the Browns took over at their own 39-yard line with 4:22 remaining in regulation. Mayfield, like he has most of the game, was able to put together a drive between the 20s, but when the field got shorter struggled. At the two-minute warning the Browns faced a 4th and 12, and the pass intended for Jarvis Landry fell incomplete.
Taking over on downs, the Steelers needed just one first down to seal the victory. On second down Roethlisberger hit Diontae Johnson for a 53-yard catch and run to move the ball deep into Cleveland territory. It took just one more run to seal the win, and Najee Harris did the job.
The Steelers win was their third in a row, and puts the team above .500 with a 4-3 record heading into a Week 9 Monday Night Football game vs. the Chicago Bears at Heinz Field. Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black and gold as they press on throughout the regular season.