The Pittsburgh Steelers had lost two consecutive games to the Cleveland Browns entering this afternoon’s game against their division rivals, including last year’s AFC playoff game. Entering the 2021 season, the Browns were seen by some as a dark horse to make a run to the Super Bowl, while most saw the Steelers as a team that would be on the outside looking in at this year’s playoff picture.
This afternoon’s game was an ugly, hard fought battle between two AFC North clubs, and the Steelers came away with a 15-10 victory.
Ben Roethlisberger threw for 266 yards and a touchdown, while Najee Harris had 26 carries for 91 yards and a touchdown. Diontae Johnson led the receiving group with 98 yards, while Pat Freiermuth added 44 yards and a score.
On the other side of the ball, the Browns’ offense continues to be a mystery. Despite the all-star roster, they once again put up mediocre numbers. Baker Mayfield had 225 yards passing, while Nick Chubb had just 61 yards rushing. Jarvis Landry had 65 yards receiving, while Odell Beckham Jr., the greatest mystery of all, had just one catch for six yards.
Cleveland took the early lead on a 30 yard field goal by Chase McLaughlin in the first quarter, but Pittsburgh answered with a field goal of their own by Chris Boswell from 31 yards out, tying the game. The Steelers marched down the field again late in the second quarter, and on fourth and goal, they elected to fake the field goal. Boswell scrambled and threw an incomplete pass, and was also knocked out of the game.
D’Ernest Johnson scored from 10 yards out to give the Browns a 10-3 lead in the third quarter. Pittsburgh answered with a 15 play, 78 yard drive of their own, capped off by an eight yard score by Harris. Without a kicker, however, they elected to go for a two point conversion and failed…so the Browns still led by a 10-9 score.
The game-winning drive came as a result of a 15 play, 88 yard push that was captivated by a two yard toss from Roethlisberger to Freiermuth to make it 15-10, which would be the final score.
This was a huge victory for the Steelers, who needed this win to stay within striking distance of the first place Baltimore Ravens. With a loss by the Cincinnati Bengals as well, the Steelers are, at the moment, right in the middle of the division battle. In a year that was supposed to be over before it began, they are finding a way to remain relevant, at least to this point in the season.
Pittsburgh will look to win their fourth straight game next week when they return home to Heinz Field to host the Chicago Bears on Monday Night Football.
Overall Record: 4-3