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Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers Beat Baker Mayfield, Browns in Crucial AFC North Matchup

Rob Goldberg@@TheRobGoldbergFeatured Columnist IVOctober 31, 2021

Jason Miller/Getty Images

Baker Mayfield returned from his shoulder injury but couldn't lead his team to victory as the Pittsburgh Steelers earned a 15-10 win over the Cleveland Browns.

The quarterback was medically cleared to return after missing one game with a torn left labrum and shoulder fracture. He still couldn't generate much offense in Sunday's Week 8 loss at FirstEnergy Stadium as the Browns were held to a season low in points scored.

Pittsburgh also struggled offensively in a game that was just 3-3 at halftime. The team also lost kicker Chris Boswell to injury in the first half.

It forced the Steelers to keep the offense on the field for what became the game-winning touchdown catch by Pat Freiermuth on a fourth-down play:

NFL @NFL

WHAT A CATCH. <a href="https://twitter.com/pat_fry5?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@pat_fry5</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/HereWeGo?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#HereWeGo</a><br><br>📺: <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/PITvsCLE?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#PITvsCLE</a> on CBS<br>📱: NFL app <a href="https://t.co/tfJ3YYEvuq">pic.twitter.com/tfJ3YYEvuq</a>

Ben Roethlisberger added 266 passing yards in the win as Pittsburgh (4-3) won its third straight game around the Week 7 bye. The veteran now has a 25-2-1 career record in the regular season against Cleveland.

The Browns (4-4) fell to last place in the competitive AFC North.


Notable Performances

Ben Roethlisberger, QB, PIT: 22-34, 266 passing yards, 1 TD

Najee Harris, RB, PIT: 26 carries, 91 rushing yards, 1 TD

Diontae Johnson, WR, PIT: 6 catches, 98 receiving yards

Baker Mayfield, QB, CLE: 20-31, 225 passing yards

Nick Chubb, RB, CLE: 16 carries, 61 rushing yards

Jarvis Landry, WR, CLE: 5 catches, 65 receiving yards


Steelers Get Aggressive After Kicker Injury

A controversial decision by Mike Tomlin in the first half dictated much of the second half for Pittsburgh.

With the game tied at 3-3 late in the second quarter, the Steelers tried a fake field goal that went horribly wrong:

Bally Sports Cleveland @BallySportsCLE

Steelers trick. 🎃<br>Browns treat. 🍬<br>Fake Field Goal stopped by <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Browns?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Browns</a> and we go to half tied at 3. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/PITvsCLE?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#PITvsCLE</a> <a href="https://t.co/XjW24lzxQ4">pic.twitter.com/XjW24lzxQ4</a>

MarkMaske @MarkMaske

That was about as poorly as a fake field goal can go for the Steelers. Chris Boswell throws incomplete and takes a big hit that appears to have left him injured.

Boswell did not return after being evaluated for a concussion.

It put pressure on the Steelers to get into the end zone when they got close, and they came through with big plays.

Najee Harris showcased his athleticism with a touchdown in the third quarter:

NFL @NFL

Najee Harris up the middle! <a href="https://twitter.com/ohthatsNajee22?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@ohthatsNajee22</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/HereWeGo?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#HereWeGo</a><br><br>📺: <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/PITvsCLE?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#PITvsCLE</a> on CBS<br>📱: NFL app <a href="https://t.co/Lf8KxDqXSJ">pic.twitter.com/Lf8KxDqXSJ</a>

Jenna Harner @JennaHarner11

Najee Harris clearly has a Superman costume on under his uniform with that dive into the end zone for the TD

On the next possession, Freiermuth came through with an excellent catch on fourth down:

Mike J. Asti @MikeAsti11

There’s so much that says Pat Freiermuth is going to become one of the best tight ends in football for a long time.

The Steelers were unable to make either two-point conversion to keep the game close, but the team did enough to come through for a victory.

With the way Pittsburgh can play defensively, coming through with a few key plays on offense should be enough for this team to beat almost anyone.


Browns Offense Stymied by Steelers Pressure

The Browns were happy to get their starting quarterback back on the field, but it was still a quiet showing for the offense.

Mayfield was under pressure all game long with T.J. Watt and Cameron Heyward dominant at times from the edge:

Pittsburgh Steelers @steelers

.<a href="https://twitter.com/CamHeyward?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@CamHeyward</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/_TJWatt?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@_TJWatt</a> already causing problems 💪<br><br>📺: CBS <a href="https://t.co/jOmTvOtkcm">pic.twitter.com/jOmTvOtkcm</a>

Pittsburgh Steelers @steelers

A QB's worst nightmare <a href="https://twitter.com/_TJWatt?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@_TJWatt</a> | 📺: CBS <a href="https://t.co/oEtSy28WMd">pic.twitter.com/oEtSy28WMd</a>

The Steelers finished with four sacks and six quarterback hits in the game.

Cleveland also didn't find its usual success on the ground, with the Steelers also coming up with stops in big moments:

Neal Coolong @NealCoolong

BIG stop by the <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Steelers?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Steelers</a> defense on a wide run by Nick Chubb. Absolutely no idea why the <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Browns?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Browns</a> would challenge this defensive line right at Heyward, but they paid the price.

It kept the Browns to just three points in the first half.

Cleveland finally got some movement in the second half, with D'Ernest Johnson punching in the first touchdown of the game:

NFL @NFL

D'Ernest Johnson cuts it back for 6️⃣! <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Browns?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Browns</a><br><br>📺: <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/PITvsCLE?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#PITvsCLE</a> on CBS<br>📱: NFL app <a href="https://t.co/Yaf3smiU8L">pic.twitter.com/Yaf3smiU8L</a>

Nick Chubb was still mostly held in check, finishing with a season-low 61 rushing yards.

A fumble by Jarvis Landry then hurt his team's chance to take the lead late:

Pittsburgh Steelers @steelers

OUR BALL!!!<br><br>📺: CBS <a href="https://t.co/kOHEArKKvw">pic.twitter.com/kOHEArKKvw</a>

Landry also couldn't come up with the catch on fourth down on the next possession.

The Browns must be much more efficient offensively if they want to compete with the AFC's best.


What's Next?

The Browns will have another key divisional battle next week when they travel to face the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 9. The Steelers will host the Chicago Bears on Monday Night Football.

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