Updated: Oct 31, 2021
The Browns and Steelers both came into this division rivalry Halloween matchup both needing a win. The Browns sat at 4-3 and in 3rd place in the AFC North while rival Pittsburgh occupied last place at 3-3.
The Browns received the opening kickoff and drove 68 yards in 12 plays but Baker Mayfield was sacked by Steelers lineman Cameron Heyward and T.J. Watt on 3rd and goal. Chase McLaughlin converted a 30-yard field goal giving the Browns an early 3-0 lead. Mayfield was 4 of 6 for 42 yards on the opening drive.
Pittsburgh got on the board in the 2nd quarter on a Chris Boswell 31-yard field goal after the Steelers 10 play 47-yard drive stalled on 3rd and 14 as Ben Roethlisberger hit rookie tight end Pat Freiermuth for 9 yards. The Steelers had another opportunity to score before the end of the half as they drove down to the Browns 10-yard line with 1:44 to play in the 2nd quarter. Rather than kicking a field goal and taking a 6-3 lead into halftime, Steelers coach Mike Tomlin tried a fake field goal that backfired as kicker Chris Boswell rolled out and threw and incomplete pass. After releasing the ball Boswell was drilled by Browns lineman Jordan Elliott and as a result suffered a concussion that would take him out for the balance of the game. The teams went into halftime tied at 3-3.
Cleveland got off to a strong start in the 3rd quarter holding Pittsburgh to a three and out. The Browns then marched 86 yards in 8 plays for their first touchdown of the game on a nifty 10-yard run by D'Ernest Johnson. The McLaughlin PAT gave the Browns a 10-3 lead with 9:36 to go in the 3rd quarter. Nick Chubb had his best series rushing 3 times for 27 yards on the scoring drive. Mayfield was also sharp going 3 for 3 for 44 yards including a 21-yard strike to tight end Harrison Bryant.
Pittsburgh answered with their own 12 play 78-yard drive for their first touchdown as rookie running back Najee Harris hit pay dirt from 8 yards out. With Boswell sidelined with the concussion the Steelers went for the two-point conversion but failed on an incomplete pass.
After a Browns three and out the Steelers reached the end zone once again on a 13 play 83-yard drive capped off by a sensational 2-yard touchdown catch by Freiermuth who had Browns safety Ronnie Harrison draped all over him. The two-point conversion failed once again on an incomplete pass. Pittsburgh now led 15-10 with 11:04 left in the game.
The Browns were poised to answer back as they drove 48 yards to the Pittsburgh 32-yard line before wide receiver Jarvis Landry fumbled the ball after an 11-yard reception that would have given the Browns a first down at the Pittsburgh 21-yard line. Former Brown Joe Schobert recovered the fumble adding insult to injury for Cleveland.
All was not lost for the Browns as the defense came up big holding Pittsburgh to a three and out giving the Browns another shot to take the lead with 4:22 left in the game. Unfortunately this drive was plagued by dropped passes, none bigger than the 4th and 12 from the Steelers 26 that was dropped by Jarvis Landry turning the ball back over to the Steelers with 1.58 to play. Pittsburgh was able to run out the clock as a 50-yard catch and run from Roethlisberger to Diontae Johnson sealed the deal and handed the Browns their fourth loss in eight games this season.
Baker Mayfield was solid completing 20 of 31 passes for 252 yards and no interceptions good for an 86.1 passer rating. His receivers did not give him much help dropping five passes on the day. Nick Chubb rushed only 16 times for 61 yards as the Steelers held the Browns to 96 total yards rushing.
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger finished 22 of 34 for 266 yards and a touchdown for a 98.4 passer rating. He is now 24-3-1 against the Browns in his career as a starting quarterback and 12-2-1 in Cleveland.
It was another disappointing loss for the Browns who came into this season with such high expectations after advancing in the postseason in 2020 and beefing up the roster in the offseason. Cleveland now sits at 4-4 in last place in the AFC North division
behind Baltimore (5-2), Cincinnati (5-3) and Pittsburgh (4-3).
The Browns have a date with the 2nd place Bengals next Sunday at 1:00 PM in Cincinnati.