After further review: 'There was no secret sauce'

In the end it was the type of win it's easy to wax poetic about, given the resiliency required to persevere without a kicker.

Factor in the rivalry, the AFC North Division ramifications and the location, and the Steelers' 15-10 outlasting of the Browns on Sunday takes on an almost mystical quality.

It'll only grow in romantic lore if the Steelers can use what they achieved in Cleveland as a springboard to even bigger and better things.

But what's most worth celebrating today is the blocking and tackling, the execution of football basics with an as-long-as-it-takes devotion to consistency at a moment of the season when the Steelers clearly needed to ante up and kick in.

Yes, the Steelers were oozing intangibles.

But what really won it for them was attention to detail and physicality.

"There is no secret sauce," head coach Mike Tomlin maintained.

He was talking about the Steelers' run defense, and the ability to hold the Browns' best-in-the-NFL running game to 96 yards on 23 carries, but the sentiment applied across the board.

The Steelers beat the Browns and got the arrow pointing up again because they made more plays individually and collectively.

They didn't scheme Cleveland.

They beat Cleveland.

It wasn't Immaculate or especially heroic, but as group efforts go they don't come much more satisfying in late October.

There was a relentless component associated with the way the Steelers played that has the potential to resonate.

That was apparent in the way the defense ganged up on Nick Chubb on a fourth down early, and in the way Joe Schobert took the ball away from Jarvis Landry late.

It was personified by Najee Harris on a fourth-down run that moved the sticks and by Pat Freiermuth on a juggling, toe-tapping fourth-and-goal touchdown catch.

But it also showed up on plays that were much less memorable but every bit as revealing.

There was Miles Killebrew driving Demetric Felton back 5 yards before planting him on what became a 1-yard return following a 56-yard punt in the second quarter.

And there was Dan Moore Jr. pancaking Myles Garrett a possession earlier on a play on which Ben Roethlisberger got sacked.

Moore's performance was as representative and as inspiring as any. He didn't dominate Garrett, who finished with a sack and two quarterback hits and influenced plenty of plays merely by his presence (Roethlisberger repeatedly opted for a quick release as opposed to what might happen if he held the ball).

Garrett also wrecked a two-point conversion, but he didn't wreck the game.

Moore, who wasn't afforded a great deal of help, didn't allow that to happen.

"I just thought they answered the call," defensive captain Cam Heyward maintained. "Was it perfect? No, but I just loved the way they continued to battle."

He was talking about the young/inexperienced defensive linemen delivering as necessary against Cleveland's running game.

But it was an apt description of how the Steelers attacked the game in all three phases, even before Chris Boswell was lost to a concussion.

Heyward also made a point of crediting cornerbacks Cam Sutton and Joe Haden for their efforts in the running game.

Both were deserving of such recognition.

Sutton earned it with a tackle for a loss on what otherwise might have been a big run by Chubb, and Haden for charging hard on fourth-and-1 and forcing Chubb to cut back to the inside, where seemingly half the Steelers' defense was waiting for him.

Roethlisberger talked about "heart" in the immediate aftermath.

T.J. Watt talked about "assignment football."

It takes both to win in the AFC North.

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