An underrated aspect on offense during the Browns 13-10 win over the Steelers on Sunday was the offensive line. All last week, after the news of QB Deshaun Watson's season-ending injury, every group in the locker room spoke about taking their game to a different level to help out QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson. The offensive line in particular felt they had to step up their game since they are most connected with the quarterback on the field.
"Guys are very locked in now," G Joel Bitonio said last week. "Everyone knows they have to pick up their slack a little more now. We understand we have a job to do still. We know who is going to be out there. Our goal is to do our part and do it to the best of our ability."
The offensive line showed they meant business when they arguably had Sunday's best game of the season. The offensive line allowed only one sack, marking the second game this season they didn't allow double-digit sacks. It's also an improvement from the last time the Browns played the Steelers in Week 2 and they allowed six sacks. All six sacks came from different players on the Steelers defensive front. This time, only LB T.J. Watt got a sack and was relatively quiet all game.
Rookie T Dawand Jones went head-to-head with Watt on Sunday and got the best of him. According to Pro Football Focus, Jones went against Watt 19 times and allowed no sacks and allowed no pressures. Jones was only beaten one time off the time.
"It's amazing to be able to go out there as a rookie and do that to one of the elite pass rushers in the league and in history," G Watt Teller said. "And especially right now to go out there and do that. But that's why we brought him in. We brought him in to be able to be a physical monster out there to where you can even grab his arm and it's so long that it's going to take three tries to get around."
Check out photos of the Browns against the Steelers in Week 11
Jones was great going against Watt, but so was the rest of the offensive line, who had to deal with the other Steelers pass rushers. T James Hudson III, T Geron Christian, G Joel Bitonio, G Wyatt Teller, and C Ethan Pocic did a great job containing LB Alex Highsmith, DT Cameron Heyward, DT Keeanu Benton, and DT Larry Ogunjobi.
The Steelers only had four quarterback hurries the entire game. Out of the four hurries, Watt had three of them. It was the least number of hurries the offensive line allowed all season.
"It's a talented front and to be able to execute like that, even with the rotation and Geron (Christian) at left tackle, it's special and it shows you how good coach is, but also how good the scheme is for us," Teller said.
After T Jedrick Wills Jr. was placed on injury reserve, Christian took over the crucial left tackle position. He was signed to the active roster on Nov. 7 and has already started in two games for the Browns. He allowed one sack against the Ravens but none against the Steelers.
The offensive line completely turned the switch on Sunday and will look to carry the momentum on the road over the next two weeks. They surprised many people with their performance, except their teammates, who go to battle with them every practice.
HC Kevin Stefanski said after the game that he felt like the "protection was really good, trying to take care of, their edge rushers were outstanding."