After further review: Two can play at that game

CLEVELAND _ After further review …

What resonated most from Browns 13, Steelers 10 is the Steelers don't have exclusive rights to their blueprint.

Following that had worked, not to perfection but well enough to achieve a 6-3 record through the first nine games.

It had produced enough desired results, aesthetically pleasing or otherwise, to establish something of an identity.

Run the ball. Protect it, don't turn it over. Minimize the big plays and the touchdowns allowed on defense. Do what's necessary on special teams. Hang in there until the latter stages and then find a way to win it in the fourth quarter or the final seconds, either with a late stop, a late score or by making whatever type of play is required at the critical time.

The Steelers visited the Browns on Sunday in possession of six come-from-behind victories this season, the most in the NFL.

Take a look at the best photos from the Week 11 game against the Cleveland Browns at Cleveland Browns Stadium

Four of those comebacks had occurred in fourth quarters, another league-leading designation.

And they arrived for their AFC North Division rematch with Cleveland having won a franchise-record nine consecutive one-score games dating back to last season, a scenario in which their quarterback, Kenny Pickett, had excelled (11-3).

But this time the Browns flipped the script.

The Steelers made it all the way back from a 10-0 deficit but this time they couldn't nudge the game over the finish line.

This time it was the Browns' offense, overwhelmed for much of the second half, that suddenly managed to cobble together the had-to-have-it, game-winning drive in the final seconds.

The voice coming from the TV on the wall in the elevator lobby just outside the press box at Cleveland Browns Stadium probably said it best:

"The Browns just out-Steeler-ed the Steelers."

The frustration in the immediate aftermath in the visitor's locker room was palpable, in part because the Steelers had their chances to maintain their narrative.

"We could have done enough to win but we didn't," center Mason Cole acknowledged.

Head coach Mike Tomlin assessed the Steelers as coming up "a play or two short."

He might have understated it.

They might have been 5 yards away.

Had the Steelers found a way to gain 5 yards instead of losing 5 on first-and-10 from the Cleveland 40-yard line with 5:06 remaining in regulation of a 10-10 game, it very well might have been Chris Boswell who ended up kicking the eventual game-winning field goal.

But they didn't and it wasn't.

And an opportunity presented in part by the Steelers ability to rush for 172 yards was squandered.

And 7-3 eventually slipped away, in part, because an injury-depleted defense, one that had dictated the second half to the tune of nine consecutive Browns snaps that produced either a negative play, a turnover, an incompletion or a penalty suddenly became vulnerable inside the two-minute warning.

The hard lesson learned isn't that the Steelers' path to victory can't be consistently navigated.

It's that two can play at that game.

Once the sting of Cleveland subsides, the Steelers will have an opportunity to re-establish their ability to thrive in pressure situations, to not blink in the weighty moments in Cincinnati.

"It shouldn't be hard," defensive tackle Cam Heyward insisted. "It just happens. We messed up. We didn't get the job done.

"We can be hard on ourselves but there's more football to be played."

The Steelers should attack the remainder of that with a renewed resolve, starting this Sunday against the Bengals.

And with an understanding that the other team might not blink, either.