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Winners and Losers from the Steelers' 38-7 win over the Browns

Updated: 6 days ago



Winners

James Conner – Conner rushed for 101 yards on 20 carries today, an average of 5.1 yards per carry, and rushed in for a 3-yard score to cap off a 7-play, 88-yard scoring drive that took 3:37 off the clock to give the Steelers a 17-0 lead with 10:28 left in the second quarter. Conner ran really hard in the game, getting yards after contact and delivered punishing blows when a Cleveland defender attempted to tackle him. Conner has now rushed over 100 yards three times this season and has scored a rushing touchdown in four straight games.

Minkah Fitzpatrick – Fitzpatrick didn't make any splash through four games this season and Steelers fans were starting to get worried, but he came through today as he had a 33-yard pick-six off Mayfield to give the Steelers a 10-0 lead early in the first quarter.

Chase Claypool – Claypool's first grab of the game went for 36 yards down the left sidelines from Ben Roethlisberger, which set up Conner’s 3-yard score to give the Steelers a 17-0 lead. Claypool also rushed in for a 3-yard touchdown off a jet sweep to give the Steelers a 31-7 lead late in the third quarter. With the touchdown, Claypool is now tied for the most touchdowns by a rookie wide receiver in his first five career games since 1970. Claypool joins the likes of Martavis Bryant (2014), Willie Gault (1983), Randy Moss (1998) and Calvin Ridley (2018). Claypool finished the day with four receptions for team-high 74 yards, an average of 18.5 yards per reception. It's the second straight game that Claypool has led the team in receiving yards. On the ground, Claypool had two rushes for 7 yards and a score.

Pass rush – In the second quarter on third-and-12 with the Browns trailing 17-0, the defense really started to pin their ears back and just started to come after Mayfield. T.J. Watt had a great get-off and pressured Mayfield and forced an ill-advised pass that was picked off by Cam Sutton. The defense had four sacks and hit Mayfield six times. The defense also had a quarterback hit on Keenum, bringing their total to seven in the game. The Steelers join the 1985 Giants as the only teams in NFL history to record at least three sacks and an interception in each of their first five games of the season.

James Washington – With the Steelers leading 17-0 in the second quarter and coming off Sutton's interception on Mayfield. The offense capitalized off the turnover and Roethlisberger completed to a wide-open James Washington for a 28-yard touchdown. Washington beat Browns’ cornerback Denzel Ward on a double move on the play. Roethlisberger also gave his signature pump fake on the play which caused Ward to bite on the play. Washington finished the game with four receptions for 68 yards and a touchdown, an average of 17 yards per reception.

Third-down defense - The Browns were 1 of 12 on third downs in the game and Mayfield on third downs was picked off twice, one which was a 33-yard pick-six by Fitzpatrick and was sacked once. The Browns were also 0 of 3 on fourth down. A big improvement by the defense from last week when they allowed the Eagles to convert on 10 of their 14 third-down opportunities.

Run defense – The Browns came into Sunday’s game with the No. 1 rushing attack in the league, averaging 188.4 yards per game. The Steelers ranked second in run defense, allowing just 64 yards per game. Pittsburgh won the battle in the trenches today, as they held the Browns to 75 yards on 22 carries, an average of 3.4 yards per carry. On fourth-and-1 with 6:16 remaining in the third quarter with the Browns trailing 24-7, the Steelers’ defensive front got great penetration and stuffed Kareem Hunt, forcing a turn over on downs. The offense took advantage of the turn over on downs and great field position and Claypool would finish off the 8-play, 28-yard drive on a 3-yard rushing score off a jet sweep to give the Steelers a 31-7 lead. It was just a dominant performance by the Steelers’ front in a matchup against an offensive line that was considered as one of the best in the league.

Bud Dupree – Dupree was all over the field today making plays, posting numbers of five total tackles, two sacks, two tackles for a loss and two quarterback hits.


Stephon Tuitt – Stephon Tuitt dominated the line of scrimmage against the Browns and had some key run stops, recording five total tackles (four solos), a half-sack, 1.5 tackles for a loss and two quarterback hits. On the tackle for loss, Tuitt forced Browns' running back D'Ernest Johnson to fumble but the Steelers couldn't come up with the recovery. Tuitt was a handful for Browns’ right guard Chris Hubbard to block all game.


Pass defense – After allowing journeyman Eagles’ wide receiver Travis Fulgham to record 10 receptions and 152 yards and a touchdown last week. The secondary fixed some of the issues they were dealing with in practice this week and it paid off on Sunday. They allowed Odell Beckham Jr. to just two receptions for 25 yards and gave up just three receptions for 40 yards to Jarvis Landry. The secondary also picked off Mayfield twice, one which was a 33-yard pick-six by Fitzpatrick and the other one coming from Sutton, which resulted in a 28-yard touchdown reception by James Washington on the drive after the turnover. Before he was pulled out of the game late in the third quarter, Mayfield was 10 of 18 (55.6%) for 119 yards, one touchdown, two interceptions and a quarterback rating of 54.9.

Offensive line – Coming into Sunday’s game, Myles Garrett had six sacks, three forced fumbles and 10 quarterback hits through five games. Garrett made hardly any noise today, as he had four total tackles (three solos), one sack, one tackle for a loss and a quarterback hit. Considering what he’s done in prior games, the offensive line had a great performance against Garrett. Alejandro Villanueva has struggled at times in past games against Garrett, but he was solid today as he didn't give up any sacks to Garrett. In total, the offensive line allowed two sacks and three quarterback hits. They were efficient in the run game as well as they paved the way for Conner to rush for 101 yards on 20 carries and a touchdown, an average of 5.1 yards per carry.

Losers

RPOs – The Steelers started the game throwing three RPOs and Ben Roethlisberger was 0 for 3 on them. At the end of the first quarter, Roethlisberger was 2 of 8 for 31 yards, with one of those completions going for 27 yards to James Washington. Overall, Roethlisberger was 0 of 4 when throwing the ball off RPOs.


Third-down offense – The offense was 5 of 14 on third downs today, regressing from their performance last week against the Eagles when they were 11 of 15 on third downs. Both of these are kind of nitpicking, but there really wasn't a major negative today, as the Steelers played a near-perfect game.

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