In what may have been their best defensive game of the season, the Pittsburgh Steelers beat the Cleveland Browns 15-10 to win their first divisional game of the season.
The Steelers won the toss and deferred. The Browns offense opened with possession, and they got to work quickly. After a four yard completion to TE Austin Hooper, RB Nick Chubb ran for 14 yards and a first down. On third and six, Mayfield hit WR Rashard Higgins over the middle for a first down and put them in Steelers territory at the Pittsburgh 35. After a completion to TE Harrison Bryant and a run by WR Jarvis Landry, the Browns had first and goal at the Pittsburgh 8. After an incompletion to Hooper and a one-yard gain by Chubb, Mayfield was sacked by OLB T.J. Watt and DE Cam Heyward and the Browns had to settle for a 30-yard Chase McLaughlin field goal to take a 3-0 lead.
The Steelers offense started at their own 25, and quickly picked up a first down on a completion to TE Pat Freiermuth on the second play of the drive. After moving the ball to the Browns 48, the Steelers were called for illegal formation to make it third and 14. QB Ben Roethlisberger was incomplete to Freiermuth and the Steelers punted away.
The Browns drive started on their own 15, but RB Demetric Felton Jr. picked up 14 on first down reception. On third-and-six, the Browns picked up a first on a completion by QB Baker Mayfield to Landry. On third and two from the Pittsburgh 40, RB D’Ernest Johnson was stopped after a gain of only a yard, but the Browns went for it on fourth-and-short. Chubb was stopped short of the first, and the Steelers took over on their own 40 at the start of the second quarter.
On third-and-short, WR Chase Claypool picked up 12 on a completion, and after a five-yard run by RB Najee Harris, WR Diontae Johnson gained 17 yards on a reception. A 17-yard gain by WR Ray-Ray McCloud was called back due to a hold, and then two plays later a big gain by Harris was called back with offsetting penalties due to a hold by center Kendrick Green. On second-and-nine, Roethlisberger was sacked by DL Malik McDowell for a loss of four. A third down pass to Freiermuth was short of the first, and Boswell came out for a 31-yard field goal and hit it to make it a 3-3 game.
Pittsburgh forced a three-and-out on the Browns next drive, but the Steelers responded with a three-and-out of their own. Another Browns three-and-out deep in their own territory led to a Jamie Gillan punt. McCloud fumbled the return but it was recovered by Justin Layne at the Pittsburgh 37.
The Steelers got a first down on a Harris run, and then moved the chains again on third-and-eight, as Roethlisberger connected with Diontae Johnson for a first down. On the next play, a double reverse to Claypool picked up a first, and the Steelers had a first-and-10 on the Cleveland 23. With the ball in the red zone, Roethlisberger was sacked on second down by DE Myles Garrett to set up third and long.
A handoff to Harris moved Pittsburgh to the Cleveland 10 and the Steelers brought on the special teams unit. The fake field goal was unsuccessful as Boswell’s pass was incomplete in the end zone. Boswell took a shot on the play and was ruled out for the rest of the game with a concussion. With just under two minutes left in the half, the Browns were unable to capitalize and the game went into halftime tied 3-3.
On the opening possession of the second half, the Steelers went three-and-out. Pressley Harvin III’s punt traveled 44 yards, and a block in the back pushed the Browns back even further as they started possession at their own 14-yard line. A first-down run by Chubb gained 21 and a defensive holding tacked on an extra five yards. On second-and-10, Mayfield connected with Landry for 15 yards and a first down, and on the next play Mayfield and Bryant hooked up for a gain of 21. Two plays later, Hooper picked up a first down at the Pittsburgh 10. On second-and-ten, D’Ernest Johnson ran in a 10-yard score and after a McLaughlin extra point, the Browns took a 10-3 lead with 9:36 left to go in the third quarter.
The Steelers opening drive of the second half put them at their own 22 after a 19-yard return by McCloud on the kickoff. Two short gains led to a third-and-five, and Roethlisberger was complete to Diontae Johnson for a first down. A one-yard gain by Harris and a Roethlisberger incompletion brought a third-and-9 for the Steelers, and Roethlisberger dumped it off short to RB Benny Snell which led to fourth-and-one. The Steelers offense stayed on the field, and a run by Harris was enough for the first.
The Steelers advanced the ball to the Cleveland 12 after a completion to Freiermuth. On second-and-six from the Cleveland 8, Harris ran for an eight-yard touchdown to make the score 10-9. The offense stayed on the field due to Boswell’s injury, and Roethlisberger’s draw for a two-point conversion was called back due to a hold. On the second two-point try, Roethlisberger’s pass was incomplete and the Browns held onto a 10-9 lead with 3:39 left in the third quarter.
Pressley Harvin III’s kickoff went out of bounds and the illegal procedure gave the Browns the ball on their own 40-yard line. On third-and-ten, Mayfield and Landry connected for a nine-yard gain, and the Browns offense stayed on the field to try and drive an offsides, but they took the delay of game and Gillan came out to punt. The punt was downed at the Cleveland 17, which is where the Steelers took over, trailing by a point.
On first down, Zach Gentry picked up a first on a pass from Roethlisberger that gained 13 yards. After a three-yard Harris run, Roethlisberger hit Harris for a gain of 20 which brought the Steelers to the Cleveland 47. A five-yard Harris run set up second-and-five from the Cleveland 42, but after no-gain on a run by Claypool, the Steelers faced third-and-five. Harris picked up the first on a carry, and a defensive holding by the Browns on first down set the Steelers up with first-and-10 from the Cleveland 30-yard line. A hold by Kevin Dotson brought the Steelers back to the Cleveland 40 for first-and-20, but Roethlisberger found Gentry in the middle of the field for a first down.
From the Cleveland 16, Claypool gained 14 which led to a first-and-goal from the Cleveland 2. A Harris run gained nothing and Roethlisberger was incomplete on second down. On third-and-goal, Roethlisberger was incomplete in the direction of Diontae Johnson. With no kicker, the Steelers offense was forced to stay on the field. On fourth down, Freiermuth caught a touchdown pass to give the Steelers a 15-10 lead. On the two-point conversion, the Steelers were unsuccessful and the score remained 15-10 with 11:04 to go in the game.
The Browns opened possession on their own 20, and on first down Mayfield and David Njoku connected for a 22-yard gain. Njoku picked up nine on the next play, the Browns were in business at their own 47. On third and four from the Steelers’39, Mayfield scrambled for five yards and a first down. On second-and-eight, Jarvis Landry had an eight-yard reception Joe Schobert forced a fumble, and T.J. Watt recovered to give the Steelers the ball on the Pittsburgh 20 with 6:04 left in the game.
A two-yard Harris run and a Roethlisberger incompletion set up third-and-eight, and Roethlisberger’s pass to Diontae Johnson was short of the first down. Harvin’s punt went out of bounds a the Cleveland 39 with 4:22 left and the Steelers holding onto a 15-10 lead. A 12-yard gain by Chubb on first down gave the Browns a first down, and they went back to him on second down and he gained a yard. A first down by Jarvis Landry on second-and-nine gave Cleveland a new set of downs at the Pittsburgh 39. On second-and-ten, OLB Alex Highsmith was called for roughing the passer which set up Cleveland at their own 24. A Mayfield incompletion on first down led to a run on second down, and Highsmith stopped Chubb for a loss of a yard. On third-and-11, the Browns were called for a false start to move them back for a third-and-16. Mayfield dumped it off to Hooper for a gain of four, and in fourth-and-12, the Browns kept the offense out on the field. Mayfield was incomplete over the middle of the field, and the Steelers took over possession with 1:53 left.
Diontae Johnson’s 50-yard reception sealed the game, and the Steelers walked out of Cleveland with a 15-10 win.
Next week, the Steelers return home to Heinz Field for a prime time game against the Bears on Monday Night Football.