You can count the number of plays that the Browns made mistakes on in a grind-em-out type of game, as Cleveland lost on Halloween to the Pittsburgh Steelers by a final score of 15-10.
The Browns received the ball to begin the game, and fans were immediately happy to see RB Nick Chubb break off a run of 14 yards. QB Baker Mayfield, in his return, started the passing game off with quick passes to his tight ends. A mix of those elements led the Browns to a goal-to-go situation, but Mayfield’s first-down pass for TE Austin Hooper in the flat was a tad high and too hot to handle. On 3rd-and-goal from he 7 yard line, Mayfield was sacked, forcing Cleveland to settle for a 30-yard field goal by K Chase McLaughlin to give them an early 3-0 lead.
.@CamHeyward and @_TJWatt already causing problems— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) October 31, 2021
: CBS pic.twitter.com/jOmTvOtkcm
The Steelers got the ball to near midfield on their first drive, but the pressure started to get close to QB Ben Roethlisberger, forcing a couple of hurried throws and leading to a punt. On Cleveland’s next drive, they got completions of 14 and 19 yards to RB Demetric Felton and WR Jarvis Landry to cross midfield. Heading into the second quarter, on 3rd-and-2, the Browns ran a direct snap sweep to RB D’Ernest Johnson, who was stopped short of the marker.
Kevin Stefanski had time to mull it over, and decided to go for it on 4th-and-1 from the 39 yard line to begin the second quarter. The handoff went to Chubb, but the Steelers’ defense read it and stopped it for a loss of a yard and a turnover on downs. Roethlisberger countered with a third-down completion to WR Chase Claypool for 12 yards and then a completion to WR Diontae Johnson for 17 yards. Near the red zone, a couple of penalties on both sides impacted Pittsburgh from moving further forward, and then a sack by DT Malik McDowell helped keep them to a 31-yard field goal by K Chris Boswell to keep it a 3-3 game.
The Browns’ next drive didn’t start off optimally. RT Jack Conklin was hurt (elbow) on the first play and had to depart. Mayfield’s next two passes fell incomplete, so the Browns had to punt. The defense forced an immediate three-and-out in response, aided by DE Jadeveon Clowney blowing up a run play on second down for a loss of three yards. Pittsburgh got off a great punt, though, making Cleveland begin their next drive at the 22 yard line with 7:16 remaining in the quarter. That was a bad series too, as Mayfield was sacked on first down, followed by two incompletions and another three-and-out. Pittsburgh fumbled on the return, but were fortunate to fall back on top of it.
Roethlisberger got a key third down completion to Johnson on his next drive, and then Claypool ran for 11 yards on a double reverse. At the two-minute warning, Pittsburgh faced a 1st-and-10 from the 11 yard line. After an incompletion on first down, Garrett got a great jump on second down and sacked Roethlisberger for a loss of 7 yards.
There goes the Sack Reaper! ⚡️@Flash_Garrett | #Browns pic.twitter.com/ctzU93c0k7— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) October 31, 2021
On 3rd-and-17 from the 18, they ran the ball to the 10 yard line. The Browns called their second timeout as Pittsburgh tried to kick a 27-yard field goal...but it was a FAKE! The Browns covered it brilliantly, and Boswell’s throw was incomplete. He took a big hit on top of it and was being evaluated for a concussion.
Boswell got knocked out of the TV screen pic.twitter.com/hY1FrXh5rx— NFL Memes (@NFL_Memes) October 31, 2021
The Browns’ offense couldn’t operate well enough in the two-minute drill, but they did drive far enough to give room for a punt and make Pittsburgh go into the half with the game still at 3-3.
The Steelers went three-and-out to begin the second half, with Roethlisberger fortunate not to have been picked off on third down as two Browns defenders basically knocked the ball away from each other. After the punt, the Browns’ first drive of the second half began at the 14 yard line. The Browns came out on fire as Chubb ripped off a run for 21 yards. Mayfield then found Landry and TE Harrison Bryant for gains of 15 and 21 yards. Several plays later, on 2nd-and-goal from the 10 yard line, the handoff went to Johnson, who planted his foot in the ground and cut back inside to make two defenders whiff for the game’s first touchdown and a 10-3 lead!
D'Ernest juked out TWO people— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) October 31, 2021
: #PITvsCLE on CBS
: Browns mobile app pic.twitter.com/DF5DrX430e
On Pittsburgh’s next drive, they got to a 4th-and-1 situation and midfield and went for it. The handoff went to RB Najee Harris, and although there was contact in the backfield, he was able to fall forward for the first down. Roethlisberger then got a 22-yard pass to the tight end after a missed tackle by S Grant Delpit. Down in the red zone, Harris punched it in from 8 yards out to make it a 10-9 game.
.@ohthatsNajee22 flying in for 6!— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) October 31, 2021
: CBS pic.twitter.com/aDmsixdhG3
The Steelers then had to go for two with Boswell out. Roethlisberger ran a quarterback draw and would have scored, but a flag was thrown for holding on the center. Pittsburgh still went for two from the 12 yard line, but Garrett forced immediate pressure and an incomplete pass.
On the ensuing kickoff, the Steelers’ punter kicked the ball out of bounds, allowing the Browns to begin their drive at the 40 yard line. Pittsburgh’s defense came up with a big play on first down, as a defender blitzed to stop Chubb for a loss of two yards. Cleveland only managed to get to a 4th-and-1 from midfield. They lined up to possibly go for it, but only tried to draw Pittsburgh offsides before taking the delay of game penalty and punting.
I guess in hindsight, the Browns should’ve gone for it because Pittsburgh immediately got past midfield with passes and runs of 15, 3, 20, and 5 yards to close out the quarter. The Steelers started the quarter with a 2nd-and-5 from the 42 yard line. A pitch to Claypool to start the quarter was stopped for no gain, setting up a critical third down. The handoff went to Harris, and he plowed forward for a first down. Cleveland had a great situation with a 1st-and-20 after a hold, but allowed a 24-yard completion followed by a 14-yard connection to the 2 yard line.
On 1st-and-goal, the defense stopped Harris for no gain. On second down, a tipped pass led to an incompletion. On third down, the pass was incomplete, leading to 4th-and-goal from the 2 yard line. Pittsburgh didn’t even trust their punter to kick it, so they went for it. Roethlisberger lobbed the ball up to the right, and TE Pat Freiermuth made an improbable double clutch catch and got the feet in for the touchdown to give the Steelers a 15-10 lead with 11:04 to go. They went for two, and that pass fell incomplete.
WHAT A CATCH!!!!!!@pat_fry5 | : CBS pic.twitter.com/NKRGy15nSr— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) October 31, 2021
The Browns responded with a wide open 24-yard completion to TE David Njoku along the left side. Njoku added 9 more yards on the next play off of a screen pass to get past midfield. Later in the drive, Mayfield got the crowd fired up with a third down run that included him taking a big hit on the sideline. A few plays later, though, the crowd was stunned after Mayfield completed a pass to Landry for what would’ve been a first down, but then he fumbled the ball and DE T.J. Watt recovered with 6:04 remaining in the game.
OUR BALL!!!— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) October 31, 2021
: CBS pic.twitter.com/kOHEArKKvw
The defense came through, as CB Greedy Williams broke up a pass on second down and then on third down, CB Greg Newsome made a very difficult tackle on a crossing route to stop Pittsburgh short of a first down. It was only a 37-yard punt by the Steelers, allowing Cleveland’s last-gasp drive to begin from their own 39 yard line, needing a touchdown in the final 4:22.
Fantastic play by Newsome II on 3rd down vs Diontae pic.twitter.com/Z0D8xklHhx— Billy M (@BillyM_91) October 31, 2021
Chubb had a big hole on first down to run for 12 yards to midfield. A completion to Landry a few plays later moved the chains, but then he dropped an open grab after that to make it 2nd-and-10 from the 39 yard line with 2:57 remaining. Mayfield took a deep shot for WR Odell Beckham that was too high, but Mayfield was blasted for a roughing the passer penalty.
The first down pass after that was incomplete, and then Chubb was hit for a loss of a yard to set up 3rd-and-11. Higgins then jumped for a false start, making it 3rd-and-16. Mayfield only got a 4-yard completion to Hooper heading into the two-minute warning, meaning they’d need to convert a 4th-and-12 to stay alive. Mayfield waited and waited, and fired a ball to Landry over the middle. He jumped and got two hands on it, but dropped it as S Minkah Fitzpatrick tackled him, leading to a turnover on downs.
The Browns’ only chance from there was to force a three-and-out. On second down, Roethlisberger did a quick-hitter pass that went for 50 yards, effectively ending the game. The Browns are now back to 4-4, and have lost their first division game. You hate to pin something on one player, but Landry’s fumble and drops down the stretch stood out.
- QB Baker Mayfield: 20-of-31 for 225 yards. 1 rush, 5 yards.
- RB Nick Chubb: 16 carries, 61 yards. 1 catch, 8 yards.
- WR Jarvis Landry: 5 catches, 65 yards (10 targets), 1 fumble.
- DE Myles Garrett: 4 tackles, 1 sack.