The Pittsburgh Steelers beat the Cleveland Browns today 28-12 to earn the sixth seed in the AFC Playoffs.
The Pittsburgh Steelers went into today’s game needing a win and a New York Jets loss to the Buffalo Bills to clinch the sixth seed in the NFL playoffs. Despite the doubt of many fans, both happened and the Steelers were able to clinch that sixth seed.
The Steelers struggled early in the game fumbling on their first drive and setting Cleveland up in Pittsburgh territory. However, the Steelers defense stopped them as they did many times during the day. Then, Pittsburgh drove down the field and scored the first points of the game on a two yard touchdown pass from Ben Roethlisberger to Heath Miller.
The touchdown catch made Miller only the 4th Steeler with at least 45 career touchdown passes joining a trio of hall of famers.
Other than that touchdown pass, Roethlisberger did not look good in the first half of play. He threw two interceptions in the first half while throwing two touchdowns, the other was a 17 yd pass to Antonio Brown.
The other negative to happen to the Steelers in the first half was the loss of running back DeAngelo Williams, who was taken directly to the Steelers locker room and did not return to the game.
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According to Mark Kaboly, Williams was seen after the game in a walking boot to congratulate his teammates.
Fitzgerald Toussaint took over for the injured Williams for the rest of the game, but only got one carry in the first half. The Browns only mustered three field goals in the first half to make the half time score Steelers 14 Browns 9.
The second half was started with a Browns three and out, but was followed immediately by another Roethlisberger interception as Craig Robertson picked Ben off and took the ball to the Steelers nine yard line. The Browns looked like they were poised to score when James Harrison picked off Austin Davis three plays later.
The Steelers and Browns traded field goals on the following two drives making the score Steelers 17 Browns 12 with 14:53 left in the fourth quarter.
After a Steelers punt linebacker Lawrence Timmons made the play that turned the tide for the Steelers. with 10:59 to go in the fourth quarter and the Browns backed deep in their own territory, Timmons got to Davis and forced a fumble that was recovered by linebacker Arthur Moats at the Cleveland eight yard line.
On the next play Roethlisberger and the Steelers were given some breathing room when Roethlisberger was able to find Markus Wheaton for the 8 yard score and followed that up with a two point conversion pass to Toussaint to make the score Steelers 25 Browns 12 with 10:43 to play.
The Steelers were able to tack on another field goal late in the game to make the final score Steelers 28 Browns 12. With time dwindling down in the game the Steelers fans in attendance started to cheer because they saw that the Bills defeated the Jets 22-17.
Roethlisberger was quoted on ESPN as saying “When I saw the towels getting out I kind of assumed what was going on.” That was the sign that the roller coaster of a season the Steelers are having will continue at least one more week.
After the Bills win, the official twitter account of the Buffalo Bills had some fun with the Steelers.
The Steelers responded with much gratitude.
Roethlisberger finished the game completing 24 of 36 passes with 349 yards, 3 touchdowns and two interceptions. Roethlisberger was able to turn it on when it mattered most in the fourth quarter, but he needs to play better for the Steelers to go deep in the playoffs.
The key to the Steelers win today was the defense. They got to quarterback Austin Davis seven times and intercepted him two times. This defense will be key to the Steelers success moving forward in the playoffs.
Looking ahead to next week, the Steelers will travel to face the Cincinatti Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium. The last time the Steelers faced off against the Bengals they defeated them 33-20. In that game the Bengals lost starting quarterback Andy Dalton to a broken thumb. Dalton is getting his cast off tomorrow and will be further evaluated to see if he can play against the Steelers.
For the Steelers, the playoffs is a new season and they have had success as the sixth seed before. With weapons like Antonio Brown, Markus Wheaton and Ben Roethlisberger at their disposal, this team can go far.
However, they have to play the way they are capable of playing if they want a shot at climbing the stairway to seven.