The Pittsburgh Steelers entered the final game of the regular season against the winless Cleveland Browns with a slim chance of obtaining the top seed in the AFC playoffs and homefield advantage. However, with the New England Patriots heavy favorites to win their game, and in an effort to avoid injury to one of their best players, Mike Tomlin decided to rest his biggest stars, including Ben Roethlisberger, Le’Veon Bell, Maurkice Pouncey, and Cameron Heyward.
Despite a strong showing by the Browns, the Steelers made enough plays throughout the game to hang on for a 28-24 victory at Heinz Field. With the win, Pittsburgh completed their season with an impressive 13-3 record, and clinched the No. 2 seed in the AFC playoffs.
Making his first start of the season, Landry Jones played very well at quarterback for Pittsburgh. He connected on 23 of 27 passes for 239 yards with a touchdown and an interception. JuJu Smith-Schuster was incredible for the Steelers, tallying 9 catches for 143 yards and a touchdown, while also adding a 96 yard touchdown run. In relief of Bell, Stevan Ridley had 17 carries for 80 yards a score.
The Steelers took control of the game early with a pair of touchdowns. A 29 yard touchdown run by Darrius Heyward-Bey put them in front 7-0, and a 20 yard pass from Jones to Smith-Schuster made it 14-0 early in the second quarter.
A 2 yard touchdown run by Duke Johnson Jr. cut the lead in half, but Ridley’s four yard run made it 21-7. The Browns answered again with a late touchdown pass to make it a one touchdown game at the half.
After the Browns tied the game in the third quarter, Smith-Schuster answered immediately with a 96 yard kickoff return for a touchdown to make it 28-21. The Browns added a field goal, but the Steelers held on for the victory.
This was a nice way to cap off a successful regular season for the Steelers, who now look to achieve their ultimate goal of making the Super Bowl. They clinched the second seed in the playoffs, so they will host the divisional playoff game in a couple weeks.
Next Game: Sunday January 14th vs. TBD 1:05pm CBS