The Pittsburgh Steelers are set to kickoff in Cleveland against the Browns for the first time since the heartbreak of the 2020 postseason wildcard game. Both teams are fighting to not be last place in the AFC North in this game, as the winner will hold the edge for third place. Both teams are coming off of rested, as the Steelers had their bye week and the Browns played on Thursday night the week prior.
There was some serious doubt that Baker Mayfield would play in this game after missing the previous week with his shoulder injury to his non-throwing arm. Baker was announced to be the starter in this game, but I am sure Case Keenum will be ready at a moments notice. The pass rush will be trying to make Baker uncomfortable in the pocket and finishing each pressure with a hit will likely be an emphasis.
We will also see the 2021 debut of Zach Banner, Anthony McFarland, and Taco Charlton this week. Melvin Ingram and Eric Ebron were ruled throughout the week of practice.
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Steelers Inactive Players
TE Eric Ebron
OLB Melvin Ingram
QB Dwayne Haskins
ILB Buddy Johnson
CB Ahkello Witherspoon
T Zach Banner
Browns Inactive Players
WR Donovan Peoples-Jones
CB Denzel Ward
CB A.J. Green
S Richard LeCounte III
DE Takk McKinley
G Hjalte Froholdt
DT Tommy Togiai
Surprising that Zach Banner finds himself a healthy scratch again. The coaching staff must like what they are seeing from the current OL group enough to not shake things up. With Ebron out, I thought there was a possibility for Banner to see some time reporting as a tackle-eligible.
It should remain fairly steady at 56 degrees and cloudy all game. No precipitation is anticipated.
For one of the first times all season, the Steelers will start out on defense. They won the toss and deferred to the second half.
START OF 1ST QUARTER
The opening kickoff sailed out of the back of the end zone. A six yard completion to Austin Hooper from Baker Mayfield on the first offensive play. On 2nd, Chubb managed to get the sideline and get up before being forced out of bounds for a gain of 14.
Incomplete on 1st down intended for Jarvis Landry on a bit of an errant throw. Nick Chubb up the middle on 2nd down for a gain of 4 to set up 3rd and 6. Rashard Higgins found the soft spot in the zone on third down and easily converted the first down. James Pierre the closest defender.
Terrell Edmunds made the tackle near the line of scrimmage on Chubb for a gain of 2. Another first down reception to Harrison Bryant for 12 yards. The Browns are moving with ease on this first drive.
Austin Hooper with his second reception of the day for a gain of 8 and putting the Browns in the red zone. Jarvis Landry received the handoff off motion and took it for 4 yards and the first down. 1st and goal now.
The 10th play of the drive, Austin Hooper was wide open, but the ball was a little too high and he dropped it. Alex Highsmith didn’t get far enough out in the flat, and it probably should have been a touchdown. Devin Bush cut through the line for the tackle at the line of scrimmage to force 3rd and goal from the 7 yard line. A nice coverage sack on 3rd down. Nothing was there and Heyward and Watt met at Baker Mayfield for the sack.
Forcing the field goal attempt was huge there for the Steelers. Chase McLaughlin from 30 yards and the kick is good. 3-0 Browns.
The first quarter is nearly halfway done already after that 13 play drive.
Ben Roethlisberger and the offense start out their day with a run of about 4 yards. Pat Freiermuth getting involved early again with a gain of 11 and picking up the first down. He got an extra yard or two there with some toughness.
Najee Harris getting a rush again on first down, for a gain of about 3 yards. Chase Claypool in motion, and Harris runs up the middle again for 9 yard and another first down to cross the midfield mark.
Ben tried to hit Pat Freiermuth on the out route, but he was unable to haul it in with tight coverage. Anthony McFarland got his first carry of the season, but it went for only 1 yard. Complete to Pat Freiermuth in the middle of the field on 3rd, but Chuks was called for illegal formation. The repeated third down was incomplete to Freiermuth on a similar play. The Steelers punt.
The Browns starting at their own 15 yard line. The first down play is complete to Demetric Felton for a first down with a screen.
Jarvis Landry jumped for a false start, so it will be 1st and 15. Another screen on 1st to Odell Beckham for a gain of 6. Felton with a rush off the left tackle for three yards to bring up 3rd and 6. Tre Norwood in coverage on Jarvis Landry, wide open for the 19 yard gain.
A checkdown pass on the swing to Nick Chubb for a gain of 9. Devin Bush sprinted out there to prevent the first down. 2nd and 1, Baker had nowhere to throw and nearly stepped into the sack. Derrek Tuszka was in there for that play. Baker ended up running out of bounds for a loss of one. Cameron Heyward brought down D’Ernest Johnson just shy of the first down. Huge play for Heyward to force the 4th and short decision for the Browns. They are just outside of reasonable field goal range, but they have gone for it more than anybody this season under Stefanski.
Baker running out of bounds appears to have credited a sack to Isaiahh Loudermilk.
START OF 2ND QUARTER
Devin Bush, TJ Watt, among others in to bottle up Nick Chubb on 4th and 1. Heyward made that play possible, and he set up 4th down to begin with. Heyward having an amazing game so far. Turnover on downs.
Ben Roethlisberger checked down to Najee Harris. He picked up 7 yards. Najee got the ball again on the rush for 2 yards to set up 3rd and short. Ben made a nice throw into tight coverage to Chase Claypool for a 12 yard gain and more than enough for the first down.
The Steelers’ offensive line actually getting some push up front. Great to see and it will be necessary for that to continue. Diontae Johnson wide open sitting in the zone gap for a gain of 17 yards. Steelers entered the red zone.
A little trickeration, with some very effective misdirection and Ray-Ray McCloud took the ball into the end zone. James Washington was caught holding, so its called back. Bummer because that play design was a beauty.
Zach Gentry with the double move, trying to get open in the end zone. Ben slightly overthrew him and it fell incomplete. Najee Harris got around the end for a gain of 16 yards and the first down. There was a holding penalty on Kendrick Green, but Rodney Harrison hit Najee Harris late out of bounds. The fouls offset, so the down will be replayed. Najee made sure to tell Harrison “its all good” he is a good sport.
Malik McDowell in for the sack on Ben Roethlisberger. His weight came down straight on Ben which should be roughing the passer. Refs ended up picking up the flag. If that isn’t Big Ben, the quarterback gets that call under the new rules every time.
3rd and 14, Ben to Freiermuth short of the sticks for a gain of 9. Chris Boswell kicks the field goal and its good. 3-3 Even.
The kickoff went out of the endzone for a touchback.
Cameron Heyward in for the stop at the line of scrimmage for no gain on Nick Chubb. Jack Conklin down injured and it doesn’t look great. His return is labeled questionable.
The cart came out, but it wasn’t needed. Conklin was able to walk off on his own. He was holding his wrist.
2nd and 10, and 3rd and 10 both resulted in incompletions. Rashard Higgins dropped the sure-thing first down on 3rd. The Browns will punt as Conklin walks off into the locker room.
The punt took a bounce, Ray-Ray was unable to get under it. 52 yard punt after the bounce. 8:30 remaining in the half. Steelers’ ball.
On first down, Ben deep to Diontae Johnson. Johnson had the space, but it was barely off target. Ben was under pressure on the throw, so he couldn’t set his feet the way he probably wanted to. Najee Harris tackled for a loss of 3 on 2nd down. 3rd and 13 for the Steelers. Screen to Chase Claypool, but it went nowhere. Steelers called for holding, but it was declined. A swift three-and-out.
Felton back to return, Miles Killebrew flew in for the tackle, and the Browns will start their drive at the 22 yard line.
Baker Mayfield sacked by Chris Wormley on 1st down for a loss of 5. Incomplete on 2nd down intended for Jarvis Landry. TJ Watt hit Baker before the throw which caused the ball to go high and Terrell Edmunds was there to ensure it was no catch. 3rd and 15 for the Browns. Incomplete to D’Ernest Johnson. 4th and 15 and the Steelers trade three-and-outs.
The punt was really interesting, the Steelers called for running into the kicker. A lame call as it was incidental contact. Ray-Ray McCloud fumbled the punt, but Justin Layne recovered. After all that, the Steelers get the ball back. The running into the kicker is only 5 yards.
Steelers have 6:07 remaining.
Najee Harris picked up 14 yards on the first two plays on the ground and through the air.
On 1st, Kalen Ballage tackled by Myles Garrett for a loss of 3. A gain of 4 to James Washington on 2nd down and a nice ball zipped into Diontae Johnson on 3rd just beyond the sticks.
Some more trickery for the Steelers as Claypool took the double reverse for 17 yards. Matt Canada is calling a good game so far.
Najee Harris for 5 yards off of Trai Turner’s hip on 1st. Off left tackle for 6 yards and another first down. Steelers have 1st and 10 inside the red zone. Keep in mind they get the ball back after the half.
Myles Garrett creating issues in the backfield as he pressured Ben to prevent the walk in touchdown pass to Diontae Johnson. The next play, Garrett got the sack for a loss of 7. Dan Moore Jr. was beat badly.
3rd and 17, and the Steelers rush to Najee Harris to kill some clock and force the Browns timeout. They will kick the field goal and give the Browns about 1:40 and a timeout to respond.
The Steelers attempted a fake field goal. It did… not go well. Boswell hit hard after the pass and he is down injured.
The game is still 3-3. Boswell seems to be fine minus maybe a concussion.
If you are going to do a fake, do it with Pressley Harvin who has a history of successful fakes in college.
Jack Conklin was ruled out the rest of the game with what they are calling an elbow injury.
TJ Watt with the sack on 1st and 10 for a loss of 5. The next play is incomplete short to D’Ernest Johnson. 00:42 to go with one timeout remaining.
The Steelers get off on 3rd down after an 11 yard run by D’Ernest Johnson.
Boswell probably has a concussion as he is walking wobbly into the locker room.
Ray-Ray McCloud returned the 50 yard punt for 19 yards to set up Pittsburgh at their own 35. They took a knee to send it to half time.
END OF 1ST HALF – 3-3 EVEN.
Join us for the second half here.