The Pittsburgh Steelers and Cleveland Browns rivalry was re-ignited in Week 6 when the undefeated Steelers hosted the 4-1 Browns at Heinz Field for the home team’s first divisional game of the season.
It had been since 1994 the Browns started 4-1, and 1979 since the Steelers started a perfect 4-0, and after the Browns won the opening coin toss and deferring their possession to the second half it was Ben Roethlisberger and company taking the ball with the opening drive.
Roethlisberger came out of the gates strong with passes to James Washington for first downs, and combined with James Conner’s hard running put the Steelers in the red-zone. A high pass intended for Eric Ebron on third down meant they had to settle for a 31 yard Chris Boswell field goal to make the score 3-0 with 10:35 left in the first quarter.
Boswell’s extra point made the score 10-0 in the blink of an eye, and with 8:58 left in the opening quarter.
Both teams would exchange possessions as the 10-0 score would hold into the second quarter. The Browns had the ball with great field position to start the second quarter. However, another great defensive stop by the Steelers thwarted Cleveland putting up points and forced another punt.
Pittsburgh’s offense would break the stalemate as Ben Roethlisberger was able to step up in the pocket and deliver a strike down field to Chase Claypool. On the next play from scrimmage it was James Conner plunging into the end zone for the touchdown. Boswell’s point after made the score 17-0 with 10:28 left in the second quarter.
It might be hard to believe, but the Steelers’ defense had not drawn a holding call the entire season, but that ended when T.J. Watt was tackled and put the Browns’ offense behind the sticks. On third down Mayfield was under pressure and threw an errant pass which was intercepted by Cam Sutton, the Steelers’ second takeaway of the game.
The Steelers do what they have done all season off of turnovers, and that would be turn them into points. After a nice run by James Conner moved the offense into striking distance, it was a beautiful Roethlisberger pass to James Washington for the touchdown.
Boswell’s point after made the score 24-0 with 5:23 left in the first half.
Desperately needing points before halftime, the Browns put together their best drive of the day and reached the red-zone at the two-minute warning. What resulted in the drive was a Baker Mayfield strike to Rashard Higgins to make the score 24-7 with 1:01 left in the first half.
The Steelers had 54 seconds left, and all three timeouts remaining, but were not able to gain a first down before punting the ball back to Cleveland. Despite running a few more plays, the score of 24-7 would hold heading into halftime.
The Browns started the third quarter with the football, but their opening possession was extremely forgettable. Baker Mayfield was sacked and pressured en route to an opening three and out. Luckily for Cleveland, Pittsburgh was unable to do anything with tremendous field position and Dustin Colquitt was punting the ball back to the Browns with 7:40 left in the third quarter.
Cleveland’s next series set up a 4th and short in their own end, and Kevin Stefanski elected to go for it. Kareem Hunt was given the football and didn’t even have a chance to breathe and loss two yards on the play. The turnover on downs set up Steelers deep in Cleveland territory, and they wasted little moving into the red-zone. James Conner and the offensive line moved the ball into the red-zone, and it was Chase Claypool who capped off the drive with a rushing touchdown.
The Chris Boswell point after made the score 31-7 with 52 seconds left in the third quarter.
Stefanski chose to give Baker Mayfield and his banged up ribs a rest as he brought in backup Case Keenum for the fourth quarter. It was a different quarterback, but more of the same for the Browns’ offense. Facing a 4th and two, the pass to Kareem Hunt fell incomplete with another turnover on downs.
The Steelers’ drive following the change of possession featured James Conner, Benny Snell Jr. and even some Anthony McFarland Jr. However, on 3rd down it was a pass to Chase Claypool which moved the offense down to the one yard line. Snell took care of the rest, and the Boswell point after made the score 38-7 with 8:08 left in the fourth quarter.
Keenum was able to drive the Browns to midfield before they turned the ball over on downs again. Mason Rudolph checked in the game in relief for Roethlisberger, and it was a lot of handoffs to Anthony McFarland in garbage time.
It ended with Rudolph executing the victory formation as the clock expired.
The Steelers win moves their record to 5-0 as they now prepare for the Tennessee Titans in Nashville in Week 7. Stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes on the black and gold as they continue to roll through the regular season.