Blowout in Pittsburgh

A high-stakes rivalry game occurred in Pittsburgh Sunday, Oct. 18, as the Cleveland Browns rolled into town in an attempt to extend their  four-game win streak against the hometown Steelers.

Little did the Browns know they were in for complete decimation as the Steelers won by a landslide score of 38-7.

For the first time since 1994, the Browns headed into this game 4-1. After an abysmal first game against the Ravens, the Browns were on a hot streak with all the confidence in their direction. Their winning streak was shot down after a well-coached and talented defense of the 4-0 Steelers manhandled Baker and the entire team.

The biggest concern for the Browns throughout the duration of the game was third-year starting quarterback Baker Mayfield. Coming into the week with a rib injury against the Colts the previous week, Mayfield looked awful throwing for 10-18 with one touchdown and two interceptions. Although these numbers aren’t the worst a quarterback has put up, the tone of the game was set early when Mayfield’s first pass was intercepted by Steelers safety Minka Fitzpatrick and taken the other way for 6 points. 

From there the team seemed to crumble, finding themselves down 10-0 early in the first quarter. The only touchdown of the game for the Browns was near the end of the first half when Mayfield was able to connect with wide receiver Rashard Higgins to make it a 24-7 game.
Unfortunately for Cleveland, it was too little too late. With a high-powered defense in the Steelers, the Browns couldn’t accumulate any more points and the game was in the power of Pittsburgh the whole way.

It’s hard to not think everything was concerning for Cleveland in this game, but another flaw that stood out was the offensive line. Earning their stripes through the first five weeks of the season to be named one of the most dangerous lines in the league, Mayfield was sacked a season-high four times while being hit seven times. 

The double stunts and constant blitzes from Defensive Coordinator Keith Butler worked immaculately, as they were able to constantly put pressure on Mayfield from an offensive line that has been near-perfect all year. It is worth noting that the Browns were short-staffed on the line, not having one of their best linemen, Wyatt Teller. However, injuries are part of the game and the Browns could not handle the rushing attack of the Steelers. 

The defense for the Steelers was the star of the show, only allowing a total of 220 yards, seven points and racking up two interceptions with four sacks. The Browns offense looked helpless, not being able to get anything going. The No. 1 rushing offense coming into the game amounted a total 75 yards, their lowest of the season. And the passing game tallied only 145 yards.
As mentioned earlier, Mayfield was playing with a rib injury that affected his play on the field. It was noticeable that he was playing in pain, but that’s no excuse for not competing. If a player is too hurt to positively contribute to the team at the level they need to, then they should not be in the game. 

These two teams have had one of the most well-known rivalries in all of sports. However, it hasn’t seemed like a rivalry since the Browns moved back to Cleveland in 1999. With the Browns having an atrocious 6-36-1 record against the Steelers since returning, it doesn’t even seem like a rivalry anymore.

The glory days for the Browns in this matchup haven’t come since the 1980s and the 1960s before that. Since then, it has been a runaway train for the Steelers, and with Sunday’s game of domination, it doesn’t seem to end anytime soon. 

In the Browns’ defense, a total of 12 head coaches in the last 21 years compared to the Steelers’ two since 1992 has not helped. Lackluster game plans and inadequate scheming has ultimately put the Browns in a position to lose.

With new Head Coach Kevin Stephanski posting a positive record through the first six games of the season, his attitude and work ethic could be the Browns’ saving grace. There’s no denying what happened Sunday did not pose a good look, but there is also no denying that 4-2 is more than a respectable record, especially considering the team being the Browns. 

These two teams will face off again for the last game of the season on another Sunday match Jan. 3. It will be interesting to see if Stefanski, Mayield and the Browns can flip the switch and figure out how to beat the Steelers in what will most likely be another important division game.