(Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)
One of the league’s premier defenses made a statement on Sunday as the Pittsburgh Steelers held the 1st ranked Cleveland Browns' rushing attack to just 75 yards. HC Kevin Stefanski attempted to establish the run early on in the tilt, but the overwhelming Pittsburgh front seven thwarted them. They were not only to hold RB Kareem Hunt in check, but they effectively blew up Cleveland’s game plan for the Week 6 matchup. QB Baker Mayfield struggled all day at Heinz Field, throwing two interceptions and getting sacked on 4 different occasions. The biggest miscue by Mayfield on the afternoon was a 3rd down pass that was picked off by S Minkah Fitzpatrick, and the star defensive back returned it 33 yards untouched for the score. Mayfield attempted to find his wide receiver on a slant, but Fitzpatrick slid right under the route and Mayfield never saw him. All the run stops and splash plays were a welcomed sight just a week removed from an uninspired defensive performance. The challenge will only grow larger next week as the Steelers defense will meet a stellar Tennessee offense next Sunday in Nashville.
As for the Pittsburgh offense, it was not a glamorous outing, but it was more than enough to put away Cleveland. QB Ben Roethlisberger struggled in the 1st quarter, but back-to-back touchdown drives in the 2nd quarter proved to be all HC Mike Tomlin’s team needed, and the rest was gravy. RB James Conner added yet another 100-yard day on the ground, his 3rd of the young season. Conner consistently gained positive yardage on 1st down and found ways to move the chains all game as Cleveland had no answer for him. In addition to the solid ground game, rookie WR Chase Claypool led the team in receiving yards for the second consecutive week. While he did not find the end zone through the air, he did take an end around off the left edge 3 yards for the first score of the 2nd half. Claypool continues to amaze early on this year as he continues to be a real threat to opposing defenses. The 2nd round selection for Pittsburgh seems to be just another in a long line of outstanding receivers drafted by the Steelers outside of the first round. While the offense was not perfect on the afternoon, they did more than enough to help their franchise to their first 5-0 start since the 70s.
Up next for the Steelers is another 5-star matchup as they will travel to Tennessee to square off against the unbeaten Tennessee Titans. It will be the team’s first road game since the first week of the season, and the winner will become the lone unbeaten team remaining in the AFC. Tennessee is coming off of a thrilling overtime victory over AFC South rival Houston Texans. RB Derrick Henry will provide a tough matchup for the Steelers defense, but Pittsburgh is equipped to keep him and his offense in check. As for now, the Steelers will be able to enjoy a blowout victory over the Cleveland Browns as they pick up their first AFC North victory of the season.
Key Performances for PIT:
J. Conner: 20 carries, 101 yards. 1 TD.
B. Dupree: 4 tackles, 2 sacks.
M. Fitzpatrick: 1 INT, 1 TD.
Key Performances for CLE:
B. Goodson: 10 tackles, 0.5 sacks.
T. Mitchell: 6 tackles, 2 PDs.
A. Hooper: 5 receptions, 52 yards.