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Browns’ defensive snap counts, stats, and notes: Playoff win vs. Steelers

The Browns forced five turnovers, helping spark the offense and the team to a playoff victory.

Wild Card Round - Cleveland Browns v Pittsburgh Steelers Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

Below, we analyze the snap counts and stats on defense for the Cleveland Browns’ Wildcard Weekend victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Defensive Line

Pos Player Plays % Stats
Pos Player Plays % Stats
DL Adrian Clayborn 76 84% 1 QH.
DL Myles Garrett 74 82% 1 tackle (1 combined).
DL Sheldon Richardson 67 74% 2 tackles, 1 assist (3 combined). 2 QH.
DL Larry Ogunjobi 63 70% 3 assists (3 combined).
DL Porter Gustin 31 34% 1 INT, 1 pass defended.
DL Jordan Elliott 27 30% 1 tackle, 1 assist (2 combined).
DL Vincent Taylor 21 23% 1 assist (1 combined). 1 pass defended.
  • I thought the Browns’ defensive line came up with a great approach to start the game against Ben Roethlisberger. Instead of trying to rush around the edge, they were determined to use their pure strength to push the Steelers’ offensive line into Roethlisberger. It makes sense, because the big man can’t move any more.
  • Myles Garrett drew a lot of attention, but he did have an impact on the game. Partially from his bull rush, but also on the Steelers’ botched snap to begin the game. Garrett went on a dead sprint to bear down on James Conner and Roethlisberger, and although Garrett’s dive missed the ball, it did push the ball into the end zone — which was big, because then it meant that even if Pittsburgh recovered, worst-case scenario it would be a safety. Even more fortunate for Cleveland, Karl Joseph got the recovery for a touchdown.
  • Speaking of players stepping up, that was Porter Gustin, who was one of PFF’s top-graded edge defenders this weekend. Granted, only 12 teams were playing, but it’s still an accomplishment after Olivier Vernon’s injury. Gustin made a diving interception in the second quarter off of a tipped pass by Vincent Taylor.
  • Larry Ogunjobi plowed through Maurkice Pouncey on one short-yardage situation to help lead to a short-yardage run stop on Pittsburgh. Sheldon Richardson had two hits on Roethlisberger.

Linebacker

Pos Player Plays % Stats
Pos Player Plays % Stats
LB Jacob Phillips 50 56% 3 tackles (3 combined).
LB B.J. Goodson 42 47% 8 tackles, 2 assists (10 combined).
LB Malcolm Smith 34 38% 3 tackles, 1 assist (4 combined).
LB Sione Takitaki 34 38% 2 tackles, 1 assist (3 combined). 1 INT, 1 pass defended.
LB Mack Wilson 18 20% No stats registered.
  • The highest-graded defensive player on the Browns, per PFF, was LB B.J. Goodson with a grade of 79.8. Despite only playing 47% of the snaps in his return game from COVID-19, Goodson logged a team-high 10 tackles. Goodson left with an injury early on in the game, but ended up returning.
  • All of the Browns’ linebackers got a fair amount of playing time against the Steelers, with Jacob Phillips leading the way. I think Phillips’ increased role was to help ease Goodson back, which got even harder after he was banged up on top of that.
  • Sione Takitaki had a key interception in the fourth quarter, a play that basically removed all doubt in the game (after a Cody Parkey field goal).

Cornerback

Pos Player Plays % Stats
Pos Player Plays % Stats
CB Terrance Mitchell 90 100% 6 tackles (6 combined).
CB M.J. Stewart 88 98% 9 tackles (9 combined). 1 TFL, 1 INT, 1 pass defended.
CB Robert Jackson 77 86% 7 tackles, 1 assist (8 combined).
CB Tavierre Thomas 13 14% 1 tackle (1 combined).
  • Terrance Mitchell was the only Browns defender to play every snap this week — all 90 of them! He nearly had an interception that could’ve made the third quarter a lot less stressful. Although Mitchell hasn’t been a shutdown cornerback, he’s been the only cornerback to stay healthy all year and has played almost every snap this season.
  • I trashed M.J. Stewart for his performance against the Ravens several weeks ago (and rightly so, for that game). But the past two weeks, he’s been in the right spot at the right time to come up with a couple of big interceptions. He also knocked away a two-point conversion.
  • Robert Jackson is now on IR, but he gave this team nearly two consecutive full starts against the Steelers without any NFL regular season experience. When you’re winning, everyone gets commended for stepping up.

Safety

Pos Player Plays % Stats
Pos Player Plays % Stats
S Karl Joseph 72 80% 1 tackle (1 combined). 1 TFL, 1 fumble recovery, 1 TD.
S Sheldrick Redwine 55 61% 2 tackles (2 combined). 1 INT, 1 pass defended.
S Andrew Sendejo 47 52% 3 tackles, 2 assists (5 combined). 1 pass defended.
S Ronnie Harrison 11 12% 2 tackles, 2 assists (4 combined).
  • Interestingly enough, all four safeties saw playing time against Pittsburgh in a distributed manner. I thought Ronnie Harrison would have played a lot more — I don’t think I heard about any other injuries for him? In his limited action, he still logged 4 tackles, including the stop on the Steelers’ fullback on 3rd-and-short.
  • You would never have believed me if I said, “Oh, I bet Karl Joseph will score a touchdown this week, and maybe Sheldrick Redwine, Porter Gustin, Sione Takitaki, and M.J. Stewart will all have interceptions too.”
  • Andrew Sendejo returned from the COVID-19 list too, but only played half the game instead of his usual 100% of the snaps.