Updated: Oct 19
The Steelers were awful defensively on third downs last Sunday, allowing the Eagles to convert on 10 of their 14 third-down opportunities, along with two touchdowns. They worked on fixing the issues in practice this week and they went out today and dominated the Browns on third down, as Cleveland went 1 of 12 on third downs and were 0 for 3 on fourth downs.
"We were varsity today, really kind of all across the board and met a challenge versus a very good and a team that was very hot," Mike Tomlin said in his post-game press conference. "Appreciative of the efforts.
"We had a better plan. It starts with us as coaches and then the guys performed better, and they finished it off. But we both were JV last week, players and coaches, and we got better this week."
The defense picked off Mayfield twice on third-down, one which was returned by Minkah Fitzpatrick for a touchdown to give the Steelers a 10-0 lead in the first quarter. They also had one of their four sacks on Mayfield on third down.
"I don't know what it did for us, but I think it sent a message to them that third down wasn't going to be easy sledding today and we needed it," Tomlin said when asked what Fitzpatrick's pick-six did for them in the game. "Minkah is an A-player. It was a significant play. He's capable of delivering those type of plays and we'll keep snapping the ball and watching him do it. That's the type of player he is."
Fitzpatrick's pick-six really set the tone for the game as the Steelers got out to a 10 point lead and they never looked back.
"We needed to set the tone on defense, whether it was a sack or a three-and-out," Fitzpatrick said. "We needed to set the tone and I think the pick-six on the first drive of the game is definitely the way to do it."
Fitzpatrick was asked if on the pick-six did he say that play on film at all.
"Yeah, it was just a robber concept," Fitzpatrick said. "I'm just reading the quarterback, just reading Baker's eyes and he was looking that way, leading that way, threw the ball and I went and got it."