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Analyzing the Steelers Week 17 win over the Browns, by the numbers

Run the ball and play tough defense had always been the Steelers way, and that’s what they did on Monday night.

Cleveland Browns v Pittsburgh Steelers Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

The 2021 Pittsburgh Steelers took care of business in their final home game of the 2021 season. Still needing help to make the playoffs, the Steelers checked off the first item by taking down the Browns in Ben Roethlisberger’s final game at Heinz Field. The Steelers looked to be the dominant running team and controlled the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball.

So without further ado, here are some of the numbers involved in the Steelers’ win over the Browns.


It’s the number of grown to start with throughout the season as turnover margin drives so much with what happens in the NFL. The Steelers did end up on the right side of the turnovers as they had two takeaways to only one turnover. The interception Ben Roethlisberger threw was on the final play in the first half which didn’t keep the Steelers from scoring points nor did it give an opportunity to the Browns. The final interception of the game by Tre Norwood with 0:10 left didn’t affect the outcome either, but it did give Ben Roethlisberger won last snap in victory formation at Heinz Field.


The Steelers put up nine sacks of the Cleveland Browns on Monday night. It is only the second time nine sacks was reached in a game in 2021 with the only other time being the Cleveland Browns sacking the Chicago Bears nine times in Week 3. T.J. Watt led the way with four of the sacks which puts his season total to 21.5, only one behind the single-season sack record. Other players to notch sacks were Alex Highsmith with two, as well as Cameron Heyward, Derrek Tuszka, and Henry Mondeaux each with one.


There was a running back who went crazy in this game, and his name was not Nick Chubb. Najee Harris rushed for 188 yards or 28 carries for a 6.7 yards per carry average and a 37-yard touchdown. Although Harris could have simply given himself up for the Steelers to take a knee to finish the game, he rambled to the end zone anyway. Harris not only hit the holes created for him by the offensive line, he constantly ran through contact all night.


Coming in as one of the top rushing teams in the NFL, the Pittsburgh Steelers once again had the Cleveland Browns number and held them to only 93 total rushing yards in the game. It was the lowest amount of rushing yards the Steelers have surrendered since Week 2 where they gave up 52 yards to the Las Vegas Raiders. In fact, in the Steelers last 13 games they have kept their opponent under 100 yards rushing only twice, and both occasions it was the Cleveland Browns. While many were calling for the Browns to use Nick Chubb more in the game, the Steelers defense just took him out of the equation. On the night, Chubb had 58 yards on 12 carries for a 4.8 yard average, but over half of his yards were gained on his second carry which went for 32 yards. Had it not been for that run, Chubb would have only averaged 2.4 yards per carry.


The Steelers got their hands on 11 passes throughout the game, either at the line of scrimmage or down field. Ahkello Witherspoon led the way with three passes defensed with Cam Heyward and T.J. Watt each batting down two balls. The other passes defensed were credited to Joe Haden, Minkah Fitzpatrick, Tre Norwood, and Isaiah Loudermilk.


For all the talk of the Steelers not putting up points in the first half, they held a 10-0 halftime lead. Although there was no scoring in the first quarter, the Steelers found the end zone and kicked a field goal in order to hold a double-digit halftime lead.

Another use of the number 10 was the ten-straight incompletions Baker Mayfield had in the first half. In all, Mayfield did not complete 22 of his 38 pass attempts as he only had 16 completions for 185 yards.


While T.J. Watt was tormenting Baker Mayfield all night, Myles Garrett did not have much of an impact on the game. Credited with only one tackle, the only other statistic Garrett put up was two quarterback hits. Although quarterback hits are an impressive stat, it also means Garrett was not able to get to Ben Roethlisberger in time for a sack.


Winning the game by 12 points, the difference in the scoring was the four field goals by Steelers kicker Chris Boswell. While it would have been nice for the Steelers to convert at least one of their field goal opportunities into another touchdown, Boswell came through and connected on field goals of 22 yards, 30 yards, 50 yards, and 48 yards.


The Steelers also got a solid performance from Corliss Waitman punting in his second NFL game. On five punts, Waitman averaged a 48.8 average with a long of 53 yards. Waitman also had one punt inside the 20 and did a nice job of getting the ball out quickly when the Steelers were pinned back in their own end zone.


Much like starting off with the turnover margin, this has become a statistic that I finish with every week. What is most important is that the Steelers are able to change the number in their win column. The Steelers got their eighth victory of the season, but it was also important to win their final contest of the year in front of their home crowd at Heinz Field and properly send off quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in his final home game.

So there are some numbers to try to help put the Steelers Week 16 win over the Browns in perspective. The Steelers never trailed in the game and managed to put points on the board in the first half. There was a fire and drive behind the team which fans wished they could have seen all season, so hopefully the Steelers can carry it over into the final week of the season.

So what numbers from Monday’s game stand out to you? Please leave your thoughts in the comments below.