PITTSBURGH — The Browns didn't have enough offense Monday to ruin a sentimental Steelers home finale.
The Browns made things plenty difficult for Ben Roethlisberger in what could have been his final game at Heinz Field, but the Steelers defense made it even tougher on Cleveland in the 26-14 loss.
The Browns fell to 7-9 with their third consecutive loss while the Steelers moved to 8-7-1 and maintained their slim playoff odds.The Browns were officially eliminated from playoff contention Sunday when the Bengals clinched the AFC North and other games didn't go the way Cleveland wanted to keep its Wild Card hopes alive.
Baker Mayfield completed his first pass of the night — a 20-yarder to Jarvis Landry — but struggled thereafter. He completed 16-of-38 passes for 185 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. He was sacked nine times by a T.J. Watt-led group of Steelers pass rushers that also got their hands on a number of other throws.
Nick Chubb broke off a 32-yard run in the first quarter and finished with 58 yards on a night when the Browns were out-gained on the ground, 190-93.
Cleveland's defense made the Steelers earn every one of their 299 yards of offense and was especially tough on Roethlisberger, who threw for just 123 yards on a whopping 46 attempts. RB Najee Harris spearheaded the Steelers with a career-high 188 yards, 37 coming on a game-sealing touchdown run.
The Browns picked up their first points of the night with 56 seconds left in the third quarter to slice into a 13-point Steelers lead. David Njoku hauled in a 3-yard touchdown pass on third-and-goal to cap a drive that was kickstarted by a 39-yard Donovan Peoples-Jones catch-and-run.
Cleveland just couldn't maintain the momentum into the fourth quarter. The Steelers forced punts on back-to-back possessions and extended their lead back to double digits, 19-7, with two long Chris Boswell field goals.
The Browns rallied for a late score with 1:10 to play when Harrison Bryant capped a 17-play, 76-yard drive with a 1-yard touchdown — his third straight game with a touchdown — to get the Browns within five. Pittsburgh, though, recovered the onside kick and put the game away with Harris' touchdown run.
Cleveland's offense produced three big plays — a 20-yard Landry reception, a 32-yard Chubb run and a 22-yard catch by Peoples-Jones — and little else in a frustrating, scoreless first half.
Mayfield threw 10 consecutive incompletions with his ninth landing in the hands of Steelers CB Ahkello Witherspoon. The interception set up Pittsburgh with a short field, and the Steelers converted it into a field goal that extended their advantage to 10-0 with 3:02 left in the half.
Mayfield was 4-of-15 for 58 yards and an interception in the first half.
Pittsburgh took a lead it wouldn't relinquish with 10:39 left in the second quarter when Roethlisberger connected with Diontae Johnson on a 5-yard touchdown pass. The Browns had the Steelers stopped on third down at their own 33-yard line but saw the drive extended after an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty by DE Jadeveon Clowney.
Otherwise, the Browns defense was stout in a first half that saw the Steelers run 49 plays but gain just 162 yards. Roethlisberger threw 34 passes but didn't crack 100 yards.
The Browns wrap up the season Sunday when they host the Bengals at FirstEnergy Stadium.