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Report Card: Grading the Steelers 15-10 Week 8 win over the Browns

Taking a look at who performed well, and who didn’t, after the Steelers’ 15-10 Week 8 win over the Browns.

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at Cleveland Browns Scott Galvin-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers took home their first divisional win of the 2021 season when they knocked off the Cleveland Browns 15-10 on Sunday. While the game itself was far from perfect, the Steelers won an absolute AFC North slugfest. It was the perfect way to win a divisional matchup and a classic through and through for Steelers fans. Getting revenge on the Cleveland Browns after last year‘s Wild Card embarrassment was sweet and the Steelers putting themselves in great (early) playoff position was even sweeter. But how did the units of the team do on Sunday? Below are the grades for the offense, defense, special teams, and the team overall.


While the Pittsburgh Steelers only scored 15 points, this was an outstanding day for the offense overall. The play calling was crisp, the play design was smart, the ratio to run and pass was close to even, and the players mostly executed throughout the entire afternoon. It was as good an offensive performance as you can get while only scoring 15 points.

Ben Roethlisberger had perhaps his best day of the 2021 season. His decision making was almost flawless aside from a few bad throws, and his arm looked accurate and strong like the Ben Roethlisberger of old. Big Ben was dealing the football all over the field and his efforts directly lead to the Steelers victory.

But the stars on this day for the Pittsburgh Steelers were the top two draft picks. Najee Harris and Pat Freiermuth were dominating in the win. Harris once again showed his powerful running style and sweet feet by pushing piles and running around offenders. He is already one of the top backs in football and he again showed it on Sunday. Pat Freiermuth continues to show he is one of the best weapons on the field and one of the best young tight ends in the game today. The Steelers may have stars in these two youngsters, and they were responsible for the two touchdowns scored.

The offensive line has also continue to show signs of improvement week in and week out. This week was no different as the running lanes were there and the pass protection was pretty darn good. This still isn’t the unit we are used to seeing, but they are more than capable.

Final Grade: B


Defensively this was a close to perfect performance. Aside from Devin Bush over running the Browns lone touchdown of the afternoon, the Steelers defense could not be stopped. T.J. Watt and Cam Heyward were unbelievable on this day, the latter having perhaps his best game in his best season to date.

Joe Schobert also had his best game as a Pittsburgh Steeler against his former team. Punching out the ball from the arms of Jarvis Landry all but sealed the game and proved the Steelers made the right choice bringing him to the Steel City.

The game plan was also very smart, as it was apparent the Steelers were playing the run and not letting Nick Chubb beat them, going so far as to play the run even when the Browns showed play action fakes. They did this to try to make Baker Mayfield win the game, but he couldn’t do it.

Final Grade: A

Special Teams

This is a bit of a tricky category so it will get two grades. The Steelers punt coverage team in particular need some love because they have been dominant and had an outstanding game today. The tandem of Miles Killebrew and Derek Watt have been terrorizing punt returner‘s all year long and did so again against the Cleveland Browns. Chasing down Pressley Harvin III bombs isn’t an easy job but the Steelers get down the field and take down the return man.

To address the big fat elephant in the room, the fake field-goal was an obvious mistake. It was poorly drawn up, and called at the absolute wrong time. If the Steelers converted it and Boswell never got hurt I’m sure Mike Tomlin would be a hero for the call. But when things like this fail, rest assured he will be a scapegoat. Thankfully the Steelers were still able to win on this day despite not having a kicker for most of the afternoon.

Final Grade (coaching): F

Final Grade (players): A


I really enjoyed this Pittsburgh Steelers victory. It felt like a win in every phase, the defense was flying around the field, the offense was meticulous, and the cover teams would not be beat. Despite the low score, this game had a little bit of everything and considering the storylines heading into the game, it met all of my expectations. The Pittsburgh Steelers deserved to win on this day, and they dispatched a Browns team that’s so many seemed to think I was earmarked for a Super Bowl run.

The Steelers to put themselves in a position to go on a playoff push, and winning this AFC North matchup keeps them in play to repeat as division champions. It was a great game and a great win. Now let’s see how far the Steelers can take this.

Final Grade: A-

But what do you think? Do you agree with these grades? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.