CLEVELAND - They were emotional because they had finally won, and because William Gay did what he had done.
"The guys got a little emotional in there because they just have so much respect for him and how he goes about his business," head coach Mike Tomlin reported after the Steelers had beaten the Browns, 24-9, on Sunday afternoon at FirstEnergy Stadium.
Harrison finished with just one tackle, but it was as historic as it was impactful.
His sack of Browns quarterback Cody Kessler on second-and-goal from the Steelers' 3-yard line in the third quarter helped limit Cleveland to a field goal despite the Browns having achieved a first-and-goal at the Steelers' 1 on the drive.
It also elevated Harrison's career sack total to 77.5, the most in Steelers' history since sacks became an official statistic in 1982.
So there was that to celebrate as well as the end of the Steelers' four-game losing streak.
"He probably won't like me saying this but he got a little emotional, a little teary-eyed," quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said of Harrison. "It was pretty cool."
Harrison acknowledged as much.
"I was thinking about my father, how he's not here for it," he said.
As for the record, "It feels good," Harrison said. "It feels a lot better to get a win and stop this losing skid that we were on."
Harrison's teammates couldn't have felt better about Harrison surpassing linebacker Jason Gildon's total of 77 career sacks.
"He's an idol of mine," linebacker Ryan Shazier insisted of Harrison. "I remember when I first came I didn't do well my first year. He took me under his wing the second year and showed me how he worked out, how he trained. I woke up with him every morning to work out, and in the afternoon.
"He's the reason I'm the person I am as far as being on the field and how I carry myself as a gentleman."
Harrison acknowledged the praise from Timmons as a "tremendous honor" when it was relayed by the media.
Harrison also defined what has always been his leadership style.
"I'm not trying to be a real vocal guy," he said. "I just go out there and I try to lead by example. I go out there and do it and hopefully guys see that and they want to follow suit."
DEFENSE BY THE NUMBERS: The defense bounced back from being unable to hold the lead for the final 42 seconds against Dallas.
The Steelers allowed a season-low 209 total net years and they finished with eight sacks, 14 quarterback hits, eight passes defensed, one interception (cornerback Artie Burns), one forced fumble (linebacker Ryan Shazier) and one fumble recovery (defensive tackle Javon Hargrave).
Game action from Week 11 against the Cleveland Browns.
The Steelers' defense also scored as many touchdowns (one) as it allowed (Hargrave's fumble recovery was in the end zone).
"Everybody just did their job, that really allowed us to play the way we played," Shazier said. "When guys do their job and do a good job of doing their job we're allowed to do things like that. The last few weeks everybody was just trying to do a little bit too much. (Against the Browns) everybody did a great job of doing their job. It allowed us to be in position to make plays.
"It definitely does work if you do your job and not try to do everybody else's job. I think guys figured that out. That's really going to help us. We're going to get everything back in order."
Harrison called it "playing selfish.
"I'm not saying selfish in the fact, 'me, me, me,'" Harrison explained. "I'm talking about selfish in the fact do your job and everybody else does their job and everything will work out."
TUITT TAKES OVER: Defensive end Stephon Tuitt had six tackles, two-and-a-half sacks and a couple of monster hits while admittedly playing with a different mindset in the wake of the Steelers losing defensive end Cam Heyward for the remainder of the season.
"Be better than what I was," Tuitt said of his new approach. "No matter if that's playing the position I usually play or moving around a lot more than I usually do, it's doing whatever it takes to help my team get a win.
"I came out here and gave everything I had."
THEY SAID IT: "Seventy-seven-and-a-half sacks … 77 of anything is a lot of numbers, you know what I'm saying?" _ Shazier on Harrison.
"You definitely need something to boost you, especially when you've been on a four-game skid like we've been on. But at the same time there's a lot of things we did wrong out there, a lot of things that we can improve on." _ Harrison on beating the Browns.
"We had to come out here and set the tone and get some type of foundation back." _ Timmons on the approach of the defense against the Browns.
"He deserves that. He's one of the best I've ever seen, let alone played with. I'm glad he's on my side." _ Roethlisberger on Harrison's sacks record.