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.