Updated: Jan 10
Mason Rudolph - Rudolph completed some nice passes in the game, his 41 yarder to Diontae Johnson was his best throw on the day. He looked cool, calm and collected in the offense, but his pocket awareness and mobility is still an issue. Rudolph was 11 of 18 (61.1%) for 134 yards, no touchdowns, no interceptions and had a quarterback rating of 84.0 in the first half. Rudolph excelled when throwing the ball down the field outside the numbers, he had another 41-yard completion in the second half, this time to Chase Claypool. He would connect with Claypool later in the fourth quarter for a 28-yard touchdown. However, Rudolph did throw a bad interception in the third quarter that set up a 3-yard touchdown run by Jarvis Landry to give the Browns a 24-9 lead. The Browns brought the blitz on the play and Rudolph had pressure in his face, which caused him to throw an ill-advised pass. There should have been a roughing the passer penalty on the play, but the officials missed it. Rudolph finished the game 22 of 39 (56.4%) for a career-high 315 yards, two touchdowns, one interception and had a quarterback rating of 89.2. Overall, it was a pretty solid performance by Rudolph.
Chase Claypool - On fourth-and-10 from the Browns' 28-yard line and trailing 24-9 in the fourth quarter, Rudolph threw a deep pass to Claypool in the end zone and the Notre Dame product came down with the grab on a 50/50 ball for the score. Cornerback Terrence Mitchell was all over Claypool on the play and he still managed to come up with the catch for the touchdown. Claypool finished the game with five receptions for 101 yards (20.2 average) and a touchdown. Claypool tied Franco Harris (1972) and Louis Lipps (1984) for the most touchdowns in franchise history during a rookie season with 11. Claypool's 62 receptions on the season were also the most ever for a Steelers rookie and his nine receiving touchdowns this year are the most among all rookies.
Diontae Johnson - Johnson has had issues catching the ball this season, but he has really come on in the last couple of weeks. He had a nice over-the-shoulder catch for 41 yards in the second quarter from Rudolph. Johnson displayed great concentration on the grab, something that he wasn't showcasing a few weeks ago. Johnson had three receptions for 96 yards (32.0 average) in the game.
Alex Highsmith - Highsmith was all over the field today, leading the team in total tackles with nine, six of those being solos. He also had one sack, one tackle for a loss and one quarterback hit. The defense overall had four sacks in the game and the Steelers tied a franchise record with 56 sacks for the season, tying a record that was set in 2017.
Matthew Wright - Wright was 3 of 3 on field-goal attempts and two of his kicks were from 46 yards out. Wright is 4 of 4 on field-goal attempts and 7of 7 on extra points in the three games that he filled in for Boswell this year. If Boswell can't go for the first-round playoff game, at least the Steelers know they have a reliable kicker in Wright.
Run defense - The Browns made things look easy on their first possession of the game with a six-play, 85-yard scoring drive that was capped off by a 47-yard touchdown run by Nick Chubb to give Cleveland a 7-0 lead in the first quarter. Outside linebacker Ola Adeniyi got sealed on the play and Cam Sutton and Minkah Fitzpatrick missed tackles on the long score. It was the Browns' first 40-plus yard touchdown run against the Steelers since Jim Brown did it in 1958. The Browns rushed for 192 yards on 31 carries in the game, an average of 6.2 yards per carry. Chubb led the Browns in rushing with 108 yards on 14 carries (7.7 average) and a touchdown. Mayfield also was able to rush for 44 yards on six carries (7.3 average) and had a long of 28 yards.
Alejandro Villanueva/Chuks Okorafor- Villanueva had a holding penalty and gave up a couple of pressures in the game. On one play he got bull-rushed by Adrian Clayborn and Rudolph was pressured because of it. It's been more evident in the last couple of weeks with Villanueva getting beat or allowing pressure. Villanueva needs to pick up his game with the playoffs coming up. Okorafor also struggled in the game and gave up a sack to Vernon. Okorafor's play has not been stellar at right tackle of late either.