The Browns defense was amped up all week to play against the Steelers in Week 11. While some said they wanted to do everything possible to help rookie QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson, others said it was just payback for Week 2 when the Steelers beat the Browns 26-22. They demonstrated their seriousness by executing a purposeful drive on their initial possession of the game.
When Steelers QB Kenny Pickett dropped back on his first snap of the game, he saw DE Myles Garrett in his face, who tackled him for a loss of eight yards. The play initially looked like a safety, but the referees decided there was forward progress and put Pickett down at the one-yard line.
"Of course, it was a safety," Garrett said. "I don't understand how it wasn't ruled a safety. It's crazy because I thought the next play after that was a safety also."
On the next possession, RB Najee Harris took a handoff and again appeared to be tackled in the end zone. LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah and LB Sione Takitaki tackled Harris for no gain. The Steelers punted after a completed pass to WR George Pickens for six yards. On the drive, the Steelers went three plays for negative two yards, and it was the start of what was to come.
Check out photos of the Browns against the Steelers in Week 11
The Steelers punted nine times out of eleven possessions when they had the ball for more than one set of downs. The Steelers only had 12 first downs the entire game. In six possessions, the Steelers were unable to gain more than 10 yards against the Browns defense.
"They did set the tone again," HC Kevin Stefanski said about the Browns defense. "Just relentless in our pass rush, relentless getting to the runner. Again, there are things that we can correct. We know that, and we will, but this group is relentless."
The Browns defense had one big hiccup Sunday. With 14:22 in the third quarter, RB Jaylen Warren took a handoff and ran up the right seam for a 74-yard touchdown. The play was the Steelers' first points of the day, and it was the first drive where they didn't punt. The Browns defense missed tackles on that play that led to the big gain.
"Once again, they had one big play that was huge," DT Shelby Harris said. "We have to eliminate those plays because if we didn't give that up, we wouldn't have needed a late second field goal to win. But we got our get back today, and that's all that matters."
The Browns defense took their Week 2 loss to the Steelers personally. They wanted to win and outplay the Steelers defense, who scored 14 points in the last meeting.
Even though the Steelers defense caught the only turnover of the game, the Browns showed straight dominance throughout the day. They forced the Steelers offense into six drives ending with under 10 yards gained.
The Browns defense also forced three sacks versus the Steelers, who recorded one sack. Two of the Browns sacks came from DE Myles Garrett – one in the first and one in the fourth quarter – who now has 13 sacks on the year. The other sack of the game came from DE Ogbo Okoronkwo in the second quarter for a loss of 11 yards and forced the Steelers to punt.
It was a dominant performance for the Browns defense, to say the least. No games are perfect in the NFL, especially a rivalry game. The defense again showed how great they can play and helped the Browns win three games in a row for the first time since 2020.
"This team is relentless, and we are going to do whatever it takes to get the win," CB Martin Emerson Jr. said. "There's a lot of things we can clean up, but there are some things we did well. I'll rate our defensive performance a 3.5 out of five, but I am a tough grader."