The Pittsburgh Steelers entered Week 18 with their playoff hopes still intact. While they needed help, they needed to beat the Cleveland Browns at Acrisure Stadium for any other scenario to come to fruition. Outside of playoff hopes, the Steelers were also playing to avoid a losing season. With a win, it would keep Mike Tomlin’s non-losing season streak in tact, but the Browns were in Pittsburgh to play the roll of spoiler.
The Steelers won the opening coin toss, and elected to defer their opening possession to the second half. It put Deshaun Watson on the field for the first time as a member of the Browns vs. their bitter AFC North rivals.
The Browns’ drive was able to achieve one first down before they had to punt the ball to the Steelers. Starting at their own 32, Kenny Pickett and the offense took the field and did what they’ve been doing in the second half of the season. A time-consuming drive which saw the Steelers running the ball on the porous Cleveland run defense. When Diontae Johnson’s reception got them to the 2-yard line, the Steelers tried to run it in on three straight plays, on the third Najee Harris fumbled and it was recovered by Cleveland on the 5-yard line.
Cleveland again was only able to get one first down before punting the ball back to the Steelers offense. On the first play of the drive, a pass from Pickett to Diontae Johnson was fumbled, but it was ruled he never had possession and the Steelers retained the ball. The drive stalled at midfield and Pressley Harvin III was called onto action for the first time.
The quarter would end with the 0-0 score and the Browns nearing midfield.