The Pittsburgh Steelers and Cleveland Browns squared off for the second time this season, and the two teams entered the Monday night affair in completely different scenarios. For the Steelers, their playoff hopes were hanging by a thread, while the Browns’ playoff hopes had already been dashed during Sunday’s results.
If the Steelers had any prayer of making the playoffs, they would need to win their games, and hope for a Jaguars upset over the Colts in Week 18. But that wasn’t what was on everyone’s mind at Heinz Field on Monday Night Football. No, all eyes were on Ben Roethlisberger as he took the home field one last time in his 18-year career. The Browns didn’t have anything to play for, from a postseason perspective, but they certainly could play the role of spoiler for the man who has tormented Cleveland since entering the league in 2004.
The Browns won the opening coin toss, and decided to kick the ball to Pittsburgh to start the game, deferring their possession to the second half. After converting a first down to Chase Claypool, the Steelers’ drive stalled and sent Corliss Waitman on for his first punt of the game.
The Browns would have to settle for nothing more than a field flipping drive on their first offensive possession, and it gave Roethlisberger and the offense the ball right back. After another Waitman punt, the Browns were threatening to put up the first points of the game, but the Baker Mayfield pass on 4th and 7 was batted down at the line of scrimmage for a turnover on downs.
Pittsburgh’s offense put forth it’s best drive of the game, but like the Browns on their previous drive, a 4th down play fell incomplete and turned the ball over just on the outside of Chris Boswell’s field goal range. Thanks to T.J. Watt, with a pass defense and a 3rd down sack, the first quarter ended with the Browns sending their punt unit on the field.