Cleveland Browns 7-38 Pittsburgh Steelers: Exceptional Steelers defense help inflict bruising defeat
The Pittsburgh Steelers moved to 5-0 for the first time since 1978 as they harassed Baker Mayfield and the Cleveland Browns with a complete performance to run out 38-7 winners.
Bud Dupree led a ferocious Steelers front seven with two of four sacks and two of seven quarterback hits on Mayfield, who went 10 of 18 passing for 119 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. Such was the punishment he endured Mayfield was benched for Case Keenum in the third quarter out of precaution having nursed a rib injury during the week.
Cleveland were a dismal one of 12 on third down conversions as a result of the Steelers’ dominance on defence, while Kareem Hunt was limited to just 40 yards rushing off 13 carries.
Ben Roethlisberger enjoyed a comfortable afternoon with 14 passes for 162 yards and a touchdown as running back James Conner pounded his way to 101 yards for a score from 20 carries.
- Steelers stats: Ben Roethlisberger 14/22, 162 yards, 1 TDs
- Rushing leader: James Conner, 20 carries, 101 yards, 1 TD
- Receiving leader: Chase Claypool, four catches, 74 yards
Chris Boswell’s 35-yard field goal handed the Steelers an early lead after an 11-play opening drive, before safety Minkah Fitzpatrick returned a gift of an interception from Mayfield for a 33-yard pick six as the hosts built a 10-point advantage.
In a bid to cut the deficit, the Browns lined up to go for it on fourth down, only to see rookie left tackle Jedrick Wills flagged for a false start. Following the punt the Steelers launched an 88-yard drive seeing Roethlisberger float a sideline pass to Chase Claypool for a 36-yard pick-up, before Conner punched in the touchdown from three yards out.
The Browns’ struggle to build momentum continued on the next drive when a scrambling Mayfield was intercepted by Cameron Sutton on a pass intended for Rashard Higgins on third and 12, which Roethlisberger punished with a 28-yard touchdown pass to James Washington after fooling two defensive backs with the pump fake to the outside.
A neutral zone infraction from T.J. Watt on third-and-four assisted the Browns with an automatic first down late in the first half, Mayfield eventually capping the drive with a 13-yard touchdown pass to Higgins having located tight end Austin Hooper for a 36-yard pick-up seven plays earlier.
- Browns stats: Baker Mayfield 10/18, 119 yards, 1 TDs, 2 INTs
- Rushing leader: Kareem Hunt, 13 carries, 40 yards
- Receiving leader: Austin Hooper, five catches, 52 yards
Pittsburgh were dealt a blow to start the second half as linebacker Devin Bush was ruled out after suffering a knee injury in the second quarter.
Chase Claypool extended the Steelers’ lead to 31-7 with a three-yard rushing touchdown inside the left pylon after Cam Heyward had stuffed Hunt on fourth-and-one at the Browns’ own 29-yard line.
Keenum was then introduced for Mayfield after a bruising afternoon for the former No 1 overall pick up against the Steelers’ front line.
It soon went from bad to worse for Cleveland as Benny Snell shrugged off a tackle attempt for a one-yard touchdown run after Claypool had been just short while stretching for the score on a 23-yard gain the previous play.
With the game won, Mason Rudolph came in at quarterback for Roethlisberger as the Browns continued to have no answer for the Steelers’ defense.
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