NFL News & Analysis

NFL Week 8 Game Recap: Pittsburgh Steelers 15, Cleveland Browns 10

Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Cleveland Browns defensive tackle Malik McDowell (58) sacks Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7) at FirstEnergy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

These two division rivals last met in a 2020 AFC wild-card game that ended in a mostly lopsided Cleveland Browns victory. This Week 8 matchup was much different, as neither team led by double digits for the game’s entirety.

In a contest mostly dominated by defenses, the Pittsburgh Steelers‘ unit came up with back-to-back stops in the fourth quarter to propel the team to a 15-10 win over the Browns.

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Pittsburgh Steelers


Ben Roethlisberger finished with a sub-50.0 passing grade, pending review, but played well enough to get his team the win. He completed 64.7% of his throws for 266 yards and a touchdown. Roethlisberger made sure to get the ball out quickly and let his receivers work, as nearly 64% of his yards came after the catch.

Running Backs

Najee Harris was the typical workhorse the Steelers needed, as he accounted for 91 rushing yards on 26 attempts. He averaged just 2.3 yards after contact, and only one of his 26 attempts went for over 10 yards. 

Harris entered Week 8 with the second-most receptions among running backs but caught only three passes for 29 yards against the Browns.

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

Four Pittsburgh receivers caught at least three passes in the game, led by Diontae Johnson with six receptions for a game-high 98 yards. Four of his six catches went for a first down, including a 50-yarder to help seal the game. 

Pat Freiermuth and Chase Claypool finished with nearly identical stat lines. They both hauled in four receptions for 44 and 45 yards, respectively.

Player Targets First Downs aDOT YPRR
Chase Claypool 5 3 13.0 1.29
Diontae Johnson 13 4 8.2 2.85
Pat Freiermuth 6 3 6.8 1.76
James Washington 1 0 0.0 0.20
Zach Gentry 4 2 7.3 2.79
Offensive Line

Dan Moore Jr. had a difficult time handling Myles Garrett on the edge, as he was beaten eight times and allowed three hurries and one sack on 36 pass-blocking snaps. He allowed pressure on 13.9% of his snaps to finish with a 0.0 pass-blocking grade, upon first review. Pittsburgh’s offensive line combined to surrender three sacks and nine pressures.

Defensive Line

Four different members of the defensive line were able to sack Baker Mayfield in the contest, led by T.J. Watt with 1.5 sacks. Watt won on 33.3% of his pass-rush snaps and created pressure on 22.2% of those snaps. He’s set to earn the highest pass-rush grade on the team (90.2).

Cam Heyward was more effective against the run, accumulating two defensive stops and making plenty of positively graded plays against the run. He earned the highest run-defense grade on the team (81.1), upon first review.

Player Pass-Rush Snaps Sacks Pressures Win%
Cam Heyward 30 0.5 4 16.1%
Alex Highsmith 28 0 1 13.8%
Chris Wormley 26 1.0 3 11.1%
T.J. Watt 26 1.5 5 33.3%
Isaiah Buggs 12 0 0 8.3%
Isaiahh Loudermilk 8 1.0 0 0.0%

Joe Schobert and Devin Bush each saw significant playing time at linebacker and combined to create five defensive stops, including one from Bush on a fourth-down run by Nick Chubb. Both linebackers allowed at least three receptions in coverage for a combined 54 yards.


Pittsburgh’s secondary played better as the game went on, combining to allow 87 receiving yards in the last three quarters after giving up 61 in the first frame. Minkah Fitzpatrick was targeted on just four of his 36 coverage snaps and conceded one reception for six yards. Nobody in the secondary was responsible for more than 40 yards allowed in an impressive showing on the road.

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Cleveland Browns


Baker Mayfield put his team in position to score, but costly mistakes down the stretch halted drives and limited the Browns to just 10 points. He threw for 225 yards on 20 completions, with his average target being just over seven yards downfield. Mayfield completed just six passes beyond 10 yards and finished with a modest 66.9 passing grade, upon first review.

Running Backs

Nick Chubb returned for his first appearance since Week 5 but was bottled up for most of the game. He took 16 carries for 61 yards, which is underwhelming compared to the standard he’s created for himself. Twenty-one of his 61 rushing yards came on one carry, and only four of his attempts went for a first down.

Coming off his 146-yard performance in Week 7, D’Ernest Johnson performed well in his limited role. He averaged 5.5 yards per carry and scored the game’s first touchdown from 11 yards out.

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

A portion of the blame for this loss will likely fall on Jarvis Landry, who fumbled near the red zone with six minutes remaining and also dropped two passes on the team’s final drive. Despite these shortcomings, Landry was still the Browns' best receiver, hauling in five receptions for 65 yards.

Odell Beckham Jr. was unusually quiet in this game, as the star receiver caught one pass for six yards on 29 routes.

Player Routes Run Targets aDOT YPRR
Jarvis Landry 31 5 11.2 2.10
Odell Beckham Jr. 29 1 -2.0 0.21
Rashard Higgins 23 2 10.0 1.17
David Njoku 20 3 7.3 1.95
Austin Hooper 17 4 5.0 1.53
Harrison Bryant 10 2 10.0 3.30
Offensive Line

Blake Hance replaced an injured Jack Conklin in the second quarter and allowed four pressures and one sack in relief. Hance played 24 pass-blocking snaps but allowed pressure on 16.7% of those snaps to earn a pending 20.9 pass-blocking grade. He was the only member of the offensive line to grade out below 50.0 in the game, pending review.

Wyatt Teller will likely be the highest-graded player on the Browns' offense after earning 80.0-plus marks in pass protection and run blocking, upon first review.

Player Pass-Blocking Snaps Sacks Pressures Pressure Rate
Jedrick Wills Jr. 36 0 5 13.9%
Wyatt Teller 36 0 1 2.8%
Joel Bitonio 36 0 0 0.0%
J.C. Tretter 36 0 0 0.0%
Blake Hance 24 1 4 16.7%
Jack Conklin 12 0 2 16.7%
Defensive Line

Myles Garrett was nearly unguardable against the Steelers, as the Defensive Player of the Year candidate totaled six pressures, three hurries and one sack in the game. Garrett finished with an impressive 44.8% pass-rush win rate and earned a 95.4 pass-rush grade, upon first review.

Outside of him, the rest of the defensive line combined to create four pressures and one sack — which came courtesy of Malik McDowell.

Player Pass-Rush Snaps Beaten Defender Pressures Pressure rate
Malik McDowell 32 4 1 3.3%
Myles Garrett 29 7 5 19.2%
Jadeveon Clowney 28 2 1 3.9%
Malik Jackson 25 2 1 4.5%
Jordan Elliott 21 0 0 0.0%
Joe Jackson 12 0 0 0.0%

Anthony Walker played a team-high 74 defensive snaps and earned the highest grade among linebackers. He created four defensive stops and made one tackle for loss but allowed four receptions for 58 yards in coverage. Walker was also responsible for one of the team’s three forced incompletions in the game.


The Browns' secondary held up well until the final drive, allowing a game-sealing 50-yard reception. Outside of that play, nobody surrendered more than 40 yards in coverage. Greg Newsome II, who allowed the long reception, came up with a key fourth-quarter stop on third down to give the offense another opportunity to score, but it was to no avail. Newsome also forced an incompletion in coverage.


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