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It was a typical January day at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland, OH. Snow squalls blanketed the landscape as the Pittsburgh Steelers hoped to keep their playoff hopes alive by beating the Cleveland Browns in Week 17. To get into the playoffs the Steelers needed to win and have the Buffalo Bills defeat the New York Jets to extend their season beyond the regular season finale.
The Steelers received the opening kickoff, and after a first down, Ben Roethlisberger hit Antonio Brown over the middle for a completion; however, as Brown tried to extend the play he was hit and fumbled the football, his first of the season. Cleveland recovered, but was unable to get a first down, and turned the ball over to Pittsburgh on downs.
The Steelers took the football and didn't waste time driving down the field and putting a touchdown on the board when Roethlisberger hit Heath Miller for the touchdown. Chris Boswell's extra point made the score 7-0 with 7:00 left in the first quarter. After the Browns were unable to move the football with their second possession, Roethlisberger was intercepted by Jordan Poyer on the first play of the drive.
Cleveland had their best starting field position of the game, but was unable to put up anything more than a Travis Coons 29-yard field goal to narrow the lead to 7-3 with 1:15 left in the first quarter. Pittsburgh's next drive resulted in a rare Boswell missed field goal, but before the attempted kick, DeAngelo Williams injured his right ankle and was carted off the field.
After both teams exchanged possessions, the Browns drove into the red-zone and were able to cut the Pittsburgh lead to 1 with another Coons field goal, this one from 39-yards, to make the score 7-6 with 1:56 left in the first half. There was plenty of time for Ben Roethlisberger to drive 80-yards in 6 plays, and resulted in Antonio Brown's first touchdown of the game. The Boswell extra point made the score 14-6 with 58 seconds left in the game.
Cleveland drove down the field in short time and resulted in a Coons field goal to end the half with Pittsburgh leading 14-9.
After the Pittsburgh defense held the Browns to a three-and-out to start the second half, Roethlisberger threw his second interception of the game, which was returned to the Pittsburgh 7-yard line. Luckily for Roethlisberger, Austin Davis was intercepted by James Harrison at the goal line, giving Pittsburgh the ball back at their own 6-yard line.
A 60-yard pass from Roethlisberger to Darrius Heyward-Bey moved the Steelers into Boswell's field goal range, and the 39-yard field goal attempt was good, and moved the Steelers' lead to 17-9 with 9:39 left in the third quarter. The Browns possessed the ball for the rest of the third quarter, but the drive stalled in the red-zone and resulted in a Travis Coons 29-yard field goal to make the score 17-12 with 14:53 let in the fourth quarter.
Pittsburgh did nothing with their next possession, but pinned the Browns deep in their own territory thanks to a Jordan Berry punt. Lawrence Timmons sacked Austin Davis and caused a fumble, which was recovered by Arthur Moats. The next play was a Roethlisberger touchdown pass to Markus Wheaton. The two-point conversion was completed to make the score 25-12 with 10:43 left in the game.
The ensuing kickoff resulted in a Browns fumble, which was recovered by Brandon Boykin, giving Pittsburgh the ball at the Cleveland 29-yard line. A nifty Antonio Brown got the Steelers to the goal line, but stalled and resulted in another Boswell field goal with 7:40 left in the game to make the score 28-12.
Cleveland, in an attempt to get back into the game, went for it on 4th and 14 and Davis' pass was intercepted by William Gay to lock up the game.
The victory moves Pittsburgh's record to 10-6, and thanks to a Buffalo Bills victory over the New York Jets punches their ticket to the AFC Playoffs as the No. 6 seed.