Sunday’s AFC North matchup was a chance for both the Steelers and the Browns to redeem themselves from the tie that ended their last contest. Ultimately, the Steelers managed to pull off the win with a final score of 33-18. But the game seemed to be chock full of mistakes made by both teams, the Steelers just took better advantage of those mistakes and turned them into a great team win.
In the first quarter, the Steelers offense really struggled. They went the whole quarter with no first downs, two of their three possessions ending with a punt and another ending when Ben Roethlisberger threw an interception. However, the Steelers managed to stay alive through the quarter with the help of their defense. In Cleveland’s first drive, they got into the red zone, but the Steelers defense held them to just a field goal. Another first quarter drive by the Browns got them knocking on the red zone, but again they couldn’t convert and had to settle for a second field goal. When the Browns attempted a third field goal, this one in the second quarter, and missed, the Steelers were able to rally and score a touchdown. After a full quarter of no first downs, the Steelers, in one drive, pulled ahead, a position they kept for the rest of the game.
Both Roethlisberger and Baker Mayfield threw interceptions in the first half. The Browns turned Roethlisberger’s into a field goal, but the Steelers fully capitalized off Mayfield’s interception by scoring a touchdown right before the half. That wasn’t it for the mistakes, though. The Steelers’ first drive of the second half ended when Stevan Ridley fumbled, Denzel Ward and the Browns on the recovery. However, the Browns were unable to turn that turnover into anything, punting after a third and out. And the mistakes continued to pile up when the Browns committed a holding penalty in their own end zone, giving the Steelers a safety. But then came the arguably biggest mistake in the game, at least by the Steelers. On the free kick after the safety, the Steelers special teams had a costly miscommunication. Roosevelt Nix signaled for a fair catch, but then didn’t catch it. Then Ryan Switzer allowed the ball to roll right past him, allowing the Browns to recover. It seemed like the entire Steelers special teams forgot that safety kicks are free kicks and it cost them possession of the ball, right after a huge gain in momentum following the safety. The Browns turned the Steelers mistake into a touchdown, but then missed the extra point.
From the halfway through the third quarter to the end of the game, the Steelers played much better and cleaner. There were no more huge and costly mistakes like they had been making. James Conner really stepped up his game as well, which helped keep the offensive momentum alive. In fact, by the end of the game, Conner had 146 yards rushing with two touchdowns. He also had 66 yards through the air. Antonio Brown helped the offense as well with two touchdowns of his own, although he only had 74 yards receiving. The defense, however, allowed another Browns touchdown, but it was in the final seconds of the game and wasn’t enough to save them anyway. The Steelers continue to lead the AFC North with a 4-2-1 record while the Browns fell to a 2-5-1 record, deepening their whole at the bottom of the division.