The Browns used a quick-strike first half and a whole game’s worth of dominant defense to take down Pittsburgh for the first time in five years.
The 21-7 win was the Browns’ second in five days and moved them to 4-6 on the season, 2-0 against AFC North foes. Pittsburgh snapped its four-game winning streak to fall to 5-5.
The game ended in unfortunate fashion as tempers boiled over with 8 seconds to play. Myles Garrett and Larry Ogunjobi were both ejected after a skirmish between Garrett and Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph brought both teams onto the field and caused a lengthy delay.
"That is not who we want to be at the end of the game," Browns coach Freddie Kitchens said. "That is not who Myles wants to be. That is not who we are going to be. You have to be able to maintain your composure in times like that and under no circumstances do we want anything like that. I am embarrassed. Myles is embarrassed. It is not good. He understands what he did, he understands it is totally unacceptable, and we have to get through it.”
Linebacker Joe Schobert led the way for Cleveland with two interceptions for a Browns defense that made stop after stop and forced four takeaways against a banged-up Steelers offense that was without two of its top playmakers for the majority of the game. His second pick of the night set up the Browns for a game-sealing touchdown to put some much needed separation between themselves and their AFC North nemesis.
Baker Mayfield completed 17-of-32 passes for 193 yards and two touchdowns, maintaining his streak of solid play since the bye. Most importantly, he didn’t turn the ball over against a Steelers defense that came into Thursday’s game having forced at least three turnovers in five consecutive games.
Mayfield made one of his best throws of the season to put away the Steelers, as he wiggled out of all sorts of trouble before firing a third-and-goal pass to rookie tight end Stephen Carlson. The first touchdown of Carlson’s NFL career gave the Browns some much-needed breathing room with 5:25 to play.
Juston Burris’ interception with 3:54 to play gave the Browns, who came into Thursday’s game with four picks on the season, four for the game. The Browns limited the Steelers to just 236 yards of offense.
Check out photos of the Browns in action against the Steelers on Thursday Night Football
Nick Chubb paced a Browns ground attack with 92 yards on 27 carries. His 12-yard run with 3:13 to play put him over 1,000 yards for the season, making him the first in the NFL to hit the milestone this season.
The Steelers cut into the Browns’ 14-point halftime lead with an 87-yard, third-quarter scoring drive that was aided by 58 yards of Cleveland penalties. That included a 15-yarder on safety Damarious Randall, who was subsequently ejected for his helmet-to-helmet hit on Steelers wide receiver Diontae Johnson. With an earlier injury to Morgan Burnett, the Browns were down to their final two safeties, Juston Burris and rookie Sheldrick Redwine, for the rest of the game.
The Browns came out firing once again, scoring their fourth opening-drive touchdown in five tries this season at FirstEnergy Stadium.
Mayfield got the Browns rolling when he found Hunt for a 20-yard gain on third-and-8 and followed it with a 42-yard deep ball to Beckham. Mayfield took it himself on the next play, plunging into the end zone from 1 yard for his second rushing touchdown of the season.
Another big pass spurred Cleveland’s scoring drive in the second quarter.
Mayfield deked a defender with just enough of a head fake to buy some time and find KhaDarel Hodge deep down the field for a 41-yard gain. He connected with Jarvis Landry for 25 yards and again for a wide-open 1-yard touchdown to put Cleveland ahead, 14-0, with 9:55 to play in the first half.
The Browns defense, meanwhile, delivered constant pressure on Rudolph, who seemingly lost one weapon after another throughout the first half, on their way to keeping Pittsburgh off the scoreboard.
Pro Bowl running back James Conner, who missed the previous two games with a shoulder injury, exited with the same issue after rushing just five times for 10 yards. Pittsburgh’s leading receiver, JuJu Smith-Schuster, was lost in the second quarter with a concussion.
The Browns conclude their three-game homestand Nov. 24 against the Dolphins.