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Watt, Defense Lead Steelers To MNF Victory

On the first play from scrimmage on Monday night at Acrisure Stadium, Minkah Fitzpatrick deflected Deshaun Watson’s pass into the arms of Alex Highsmith, who ran into the end zone from 30 yards out to give the Pittsburgh Steelers a 7-0 lead over the Cleveland Browns.  The tone was immediately set, and despite a back and forth battle that saw many ups and downs along the way, the home team got the best of their AFC North rivals, coming away with a narrow 26-22 victory.

At times, it looked as though the Browns may run away with this game, both literally and figuratively.  Cleveland’s running game, led initially by Nick Chubb, was dominant throughout the evening.  Chubb was well on his way to a big game, tallying 64 yards on 10 carries, before suffering what is expected to be a season-ending knee injury in the second quarter.  But Jerome Ford picked up the slack, carrying the ball 16 times for 106 yards.

The Browns capped a 13 play drive in the first quarter with a 43 yard field goal by Dustin Hopkins to get them on the board at 7-3.  Watson’s three yard pass to Ford in the second quarter gave Cleveland its first lead, but Pittsburgh answered with a 52 yard field goal by Chris Boswell.  By far the most explosive play for the Steelers came in the second quarter, when Kenny Pickett connected with George Pickens across the middle for a 71 yard touchdown. 

Cleveland added a field goal shortly before halftime, a 55 yard boot by Hopkins, and the Steelers opened the third quarter with a 50 yarder from Boswell.  A one-yard touchdown run by Pierre Strong was set up by a huge run by Ford that nearly went the distance.  Fitzpatrick caught him from behind, tackling him just short of the goal line, while injury his chest in the process.

Appropriately, though, this game was won by Steelers’ defense.  Down by three and needing to make a stop or a big play, that is exactly what the defense did.  Highsmith sacked Watson, knocking the ball loose, which was picked up by T.J. Watt who took in to the end zone for a 16-yard touchdown.  The Browns made things interesting on their final drive, but turned it over on downs to secure the victory for Pittsburgh.

While it was a thrilling victory on Monday, the Steelers still have a long way to go if they want to contend for the division and beyond this season, especially on the offensive side of the ball.  Next week, they will once again be in the national spotlight, as they will face off against the Las Vegas Raiders on Sunday Night Football.

Overall Record: 1-1

Chad Carlson

Co-Editor of Fans From The Stands, Pirates' Beat Writer For Armchair Report, Sports writer for AMN, SteelTownRock And Music City Encore Editor