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Fit to be tied

CLEVELAND _ It was as strange a game as David DeCastro has played in, and the Steelers' left guard has played in 90 of those following Sunday afternoon's 2018 regular-season opener against the Browns.

"I'd have to say so, yeah," DeCastro acknowledged after a hard-to-process, 21-21 tie at FirstEnergy Stadium. "Back and forth, the swings, to have a 14-point lead like that and have the ball, we can only kind of blame ourselves. But give them credit for making the plays.

"Still trying to process what kind of game that was. It was interesting to say the least."

It was a game the Steelers led, 21-7, upon taking possession following a punt with 7:44 left in the fourth quarter. But a fumble by running back James Conner and a recovery and return to the Steelers' 1-yard line by Browns safety Jabrill Peppers became the catalyst for what became a Cleveland comeback.

The Steelers turned the ball over two more times after that and the Browns once, and both teams missed field goal attempts in overtime.

It all conspired to produce the first tie the Steelers had been involved in since a 34-34 draw on Nov. 20, 2002 against Atlanta.

But to defensive end Cam Heyward, the only thing that mattered was the Steelers didn't win.

"They might look at it as a win but we look at it as a loss," Heyward said.

Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger concurred.

"If you don't win it feels like a loss," he agreed.

Added Conner: "Winning is what we do, and we didn't do that, so it kinda feels like a loss."

ONE THAT GOT AWAY: Conner's fumble was an obvious blemish on an at-times-spectacular afternoon in his first start at running back. He finished with 31 carries for 135 yards and two touchdowns, and also caught five passes for 57 yards.

"I thought he played well, ran hard, caught the ball well, made plays for us," Roethlisberger said. "I told him I was really proud of the way he played."

BOUNCING BACK: Cam Sutton replaced Joe Haden (hamstring) at cornerback in the fourth quarter and surrendered a 17-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Tyrod Taylor to wide receiver Josh Gordon that tied the game at 21-21 with 1:58 left in regulation.

Sutton lamented his role in the touchdown, but only momentarily.

"I just gotta get my hands through there and get the ball out," he said.

Sutton responded with an interception, the first of his NFL career, at the Steelers' 8 with 16 seconds left in regulation on a deep ball from Taylor to Gordon.

"You just never let one play define you," Sutton emphasized. "Just keep going and good things will continue to keep happening for you.

"Obviously, no one wants to give up a play, but it's football. Things happen throughout the course of a game. Everything's not always going to go your right way, but if it doesn't go your way it's always about how you respond."

WATT A FEELING: Outside linebacker T.J. Watt's four sacks came up just shy of the Steelers' single-game record (Chad Brown had four-and-a-half sacks on Oct. 13, 1996 against Cincinnati).

The switch from right outside linebacker to left apparently agrees with Watt, as Watt had suspected it would all along.

"I said the left side is where I feel way more comfortable," he said. "I think that showed today."

MOMENTARY LAPSE: Cornerback Artie Burns was penalized for unnecessary roughness (declined) and unsportsmanlike conduct (enforced) after becoming involved in an away-from-the-play scuffle with Browns wide receiver Jarvis Landry on the Browns' first possession of the third quarter.

"I just kinda lost my cool, man, just kinda snapped," Burns acknowledged. "It's the first game, we're out there, heat of the moment, I just lost my cool for a little bit."

Burns was issued a 15-yard penalty after what had been a 3-yard gain by running back Carlos Hyde to the Cleveland 16.

The Browns ended up driving 86 yards in 10 plays for the touchdown that tied the game at 7-7.

Landry has a history of effectively instigating such incidents, and Burns acknowledged that was a factor in what took place.

"Just a little bit," he said. "I gotta keep my professionalism, handle it way better than I did. They scored on that drive, too, off of that penalty. I kinda blame that drive on me, too."

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