NFL News & Analysis

NFL Week 17 Game Recap: Pittsburgh Steelers 26, Cleveland Browns 14

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers running back Najee Harris (22) is tackled by Cleveland Browns safety Ronnie Harrison Jr. (33) and linebacker Sione Takitaki (44) during the first quarter at Heinz Field. Mandatory Credit: Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

What may have been Ben Roethlisberger’s final home game fell short of a final coronation, but the Pittsburgh Steelers controlled the Cleveland Browns in their 26-14 victory, staying alive in the AFC wild-card race.

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Pittsburgh Steelers


Roethlisberger dropped back to pass often, but it took an arduous journey to cross the 100-yard mark against the Browns defense. Checkdowns, speed outs, crossing routes and screens filled Roethlisberger’s passing chart.

Dropbacks 46
Yards Per Attempt 2.7
Passer Rating 56.3
Average Depth of Target 6.5
First Downs 11
Running Backs

Najee Harris has had to earn every yard along the way to eclipse the 1,000-yard mark this season, and he earned his breakout performance Monday. He punched and cut his way to a near 150-yard performance, as he constantly worked through contact on most of his runs.

Rushing Attempts 28
Yards Per Carry 6.7
% of Yards After Contact 85%
1st Down & TD % 25%
Explosive Runs 4
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

Diontae Johnson’s rate metrics will take a major hit after Monday’s action, as he was targeted 15 times but logged less than 50 yards through the air. Only one of his eight receptions converted a first down, as the majority of his work came underneath.

Offensive Line

True to form, Pittsburgh made sure Roethlisberger got the ball out of his hands as quickly as possible, but it didn’t stop guard Trai Turner from losing two of his pass protection reps – one of which resulted in a sack.

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Defensive Line

Watt entered the 20-sack club with his four-sack performance on Monday night, logging six pressures in total. Edge rusher Alex Highsmith finished with two sacks, as the Steelers recorded nine sacks as a team.


Robert Spillane had a couple of impressive run-through tackles against the run, fitting his gaps at full speed and finishing plays at or near the backfield. He struggled in coverage, allowing a first down on all four targets.


Ahkello Witherspoon put up a strong performance thanks, in part, to his coverage ability and the pass rush in front of him. He allowed a 39-yard completion, but it was the only catch he allowed from six targets. He also recorded an interception.

Cleveland Browns


Baker Mayfield didn’t turn the ball over as aggressively or comically as he has in other games during his recent slump. Dropped passes were a major issue throughout Monday’s action, but his inability to beat Pittsburgh’s coverage allowed its pass rush to get after him all evening.

Dropbacks 48
Yards Per Attempt 4.9
Passer Rating 53.1
Average Depth of Target 8.8
First Downs 9
Running Backs

TheNick Chubb's absence throughout the second half was noticed by the broadcast team, the Manning Cast, and anyone paying attention at home. His low number of carries without reports of physical issues is perplexing, to say the least.

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

Mayfield struggled to find any of his receivers all night. Jarvis Landry was Cleveland's only receiving threat who was targeted more than five times, and his four receptions netted just 43 yards.

Offensive Line

T.J. Watt attacked and affected the pocket relentlessly, and tackle James Hudson was the unfortunate recipient of his best pass rush moves on Monday. Three of Hudson's five pressures allowed led to a sack, and another resulted in a QB hit.

Defensive Line

Jadeveon Clowney continued his productive season as Cleveland's secondary edge rusher, recording two sacks and five total pressures. Three of his pressures came when he was unblocked and schemed into open rush lanes.

Jadeveon Clowney's pass-rush performance in Week 17
Pass Rush Opportunities 40
Total Pressures 5
Unblocked Pressure 3
Sacks & QB Hits 3
Pass Rush ‘Wins’ 1

Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah is the centerpiece of Cleveland’s second line of defense, and he is affecting the game in all phases. Owusu-Koramoah logged a run stop and five total tackles in 22 snaps while playing well enough in coverage (one target).


Greg Newsome II was targeted nine times in coverage and allowed 32 yards and three first downs. Newsome finished with seven total tackles in his 46 coverage snaps.


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