In Sunday night’s game, the Pittsburgh Steelers fell to the Cleveland Browns at Heinz Field in the first round of playoffs.
First Quarter Whirlwind
The night started out with the Steelers immediately in a rut and playing catch-up.
Pittsburgh lost the toss and received the ball first.
On their first play of the game, veteran center Maurkice Pouncey snapped the ball way over Ben Roethlisberger’s head. As a result, the Browns jumped on the ball in the end zone, scoring their first of four touchdowns in the first quarter alone.
The eighth snap of the game resulted in an interception favoring the Browns. This was just the first of two interceptions thrown by Roethlisberger in the first quarter, and four total on the night.
“We’ve got the best fans in the world, so I need to apologize to them for tonight, and the rest of my teammates, for the way I played,” Roethlisberger said in a postgame press conference. “I hate it for our fans and I hate it for my teammates.”
Browns running back Kareem Hunt scored two touchdowns in the first quarter.
The Browns beat the Steelers in back-to-back weeks for the first time in the history of the organization.
The last time they beat the Steelers twice in the same season? 1988. #Browns
— Hayden Grove (@H_Grove) January 11, 2021
Possible Steelers Comeback
The Steelers began to show promise in the second quarter. Their first touchdown of the night was a 1-yard run for running back James Conner.
The Browns immediately responded with their fifth touchdown of the night. Prior to the end of the half, Steelers kicker Chris Boswell made a 49-yard field goal to make the score 35-10.
In the second half, Pittsburgh outscored the Browns 28-13. It started with a 17-yard pass from Roethlisberger to tight end Eric Ebron to score a touchdown on an 84-yard drive.
Wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster also recorded a touchdown in the third quarter. The final two Pittsburgh touchdowns were both passes to wide receiver Chase Claypool in the fourth quarter.
“We still believed, we still were fighting all the way until the end,” Roethlisberger said.
In the end, the Steelers lost to the Browns in the playoffs for the first time ever.
Key Takeaways for Pittsburgh
In one of Pittsburgh’s worst games of the year, the defense was unable to sack Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield. This puts an end to the Steelers’ 73-game sack streak.
The Steelers defense had just a 13.9% pressure rate in Sunday’s game, their lowest of the season.
Offensively, Pittsburgh struggled with two-point conversions, a task that used to be simple for the team.
JuJu Smith-Schuster just came over to Maurkice Pouncey and Ben Roethlisberger and talked to the pair. He shared a long hug with the QB. pic.twitter.com/XwkzedTJWF
— Brooke Pryor (@bepryor) January 11, 2021
With this being the end of Pittsburgh’s season, fans everywhere are wondering what will happen in the offseason.
Regardless of whether or not Roethlisberger comes back for the final year of his contract, the quarterback situation in Pittsburgh is less than ideal. The organization might consider drafting a quarterback. Most people are not yet confident in Mason Rudolph’s abilities as an NFL starter.
With this being the last year of Smith-Schuster’s contract, the Steelers will likely let him walk.
Featured Image Courtesy of Behind the Steel Curtain.
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