We own it: The Steelers lost to the Cleveland Browns, a 13-10 defeat that came down to a last second field goal by the Browns.
"Really the type of game we anticipated," said Coach Mike Tomlin. "They got a really good defense, a hostile environment. They had a young quarterback and so we knew they were going to do some things to minimize his exposure to our defensive unit. They weren't going to take a lot of risk and so we had to get stops the traditional way. So, it was a lot of those things. We just came up a play or two short.
"But that happens. That's what happens when you're competing in this league and on days like today. So, we own that. We compliment them for doing enough to win. We'll go back to the lab and continue to work. I just thought that's how the game unfolded. I had a real good feel of it. We had a real good feel of it. We knew what had to happen. Just not enough of it for us."
One of the aspect every player on defense brought up in the locker room all week was the communication on defense with safety Minkah Fitzpatrick out and losing linebacker Kwon Alexander for the season. There were some issues early on, but the defense was able to adjust and settle in.
"Communication on defense, like we talked about all week was a little bit challenging early on," said Tomlin. "They were able to get some points we settled down and smoothed that out."
Running back Jaylen Warren had nine carries for 129 yards, a 14.3-yard average and his second straight 100-plus yard game. He scored the Steelers only touchdown of the game on a 74-yard run.
"Weren't able to get enough big plays on offense for the field positioning component and thus the points component of it," said Tomlin. "Because that's what you got to do when you play against a great defense in their venue. You're not going to drive the ball 15-play drives and things like that. You need some chunks to comprise those scoring drives. And we knew that. We worked toward that we just didn't connect on enough of them.
"We'll learn from this. We'll do so while absorbing the 'L' because that's what you do in this thing, and we'll be back."
Quarterback Kenny Pickett completed only 15 passes for 106 yards, while Browns rookie quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson completed 24 passes for 165 yards.
On the Steelers final drive of the game, they threw the ball three times, all incompletions, in an effort to get the ball down the field for a game-winning field goal of their own, and left the Browns with 1:18 on the clock.
"Move down the field and put ourselves in field goal position," said Tomlin of the thinking on throwing the ball. "When you're unsuccessful, there's a lot of latitude in terms of judgment, play selection, etc. We stand by what we did.
"They got a really good defense. They make a lot of offenses look like that coupled with their venue. We've got to give them some credit. We knew their reputation in Week 2, maybe the rest of the National Football League didn't. But it's kind of been confirmed in the weeks after that, and obviously they were really good today."
Settling down: Coach Mike Tomlin mentioned communication issues early on for the defense and linebacker T.J. Watt reiterated his comments.
With multiple new defensive players in the game because of injuries, communication was paramount for the black and gold and it took time for things to develop.
"Just took us too long to settle down today," said Watt. "Once we did, it felt like we held the run pretty well and were able to make some plays, but it just took too long to settle in.
"Just continue to hone in on the communication. When you have that many new guys, it's just a matter of calming down and just getting in the rhythm of the game. And like I said, I think it just took us too long to get into the rhythm. But once we did, we we're able to play relatively effective football, obviously not enough."
One of the things the defense set out to do against the Browns was stop the run, holding them to 96 yards. But it was no consolation for Watt.
"We held them under 100 yards rushing, which is a goal," said Watt. "But we still need to find ways to create more splash, get off the field quicker and provide better field position for our offense."
Rookie quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson, starting just his second game, completed 24 passes for 165 yards. The Browns didn't ask him to do too much, but what he did, he did effectively.
"We have to stop it," said Watt. "If he's able to just convert five yard throws all day, that's an issue as well. Teams have been doing that this season. It's just a matter of stopping it so they're not able to continue to do it. And that's the issue right now."
Gotta learn from it: It felt like another one of those games and Kenny Pickett expected it to end as so many of those types have previously, with some fourth-quarter/last-minute dramatics that turn the tide just in time.
"Yeah, but you gotta go do it," Pickett maintained.
The Steelers took possession at their 30-yard line with 1:42 remaining in regulation of a 10-10 game this afternoon at Cleveland Browns Stadium. But this time they went three-and-out.
And this time, the defense surrendered an eight-play, 48-yard drive in 1:16 to the Steelers' 17.
And this time it was Browns kicker Dustin Hopkins who made the play that ultimately won it, a 34-yard field goal that secured a 13-10 victory for the home team.
"Like I always tell you guys in those postgame conferences after we get the win in those two-minute drills and those fourth quarters, guys have to come together and do it," Pickett continued. "And today we didn't, so we gotta learn from it."
Pickett fell to 11-4 for his career in one-score decisions as a starter.
His career winning percentage of .733 in such circumstances remains the best among active NFL starting quarterbacks (minimum five starts).
The late three-and-out that helped seal the Steelers' fate included a second-and-10 incompletion on a deep ball down the sideline to wide receiver Diontae Johnson on a play in which Johnson pulled up on his route.
"We had a couple miscommunications, something that can't happen," Pickett assessed. "We gotta get it ironed out, obviously, especially in a moment like that. And we had some earlier in the game.
"It's always concerning whenever it comes up, you don't want to have that. We just gotta get it worked out."
The Browns' No. 1-ranked defense hosted the Steelers allowing an average of 161 yards and 10.2 points per game at home through five home games.
The Steelers finished with 249 yards on the way to their 10 points, 74 of which were picked up on running back Jaylen Warren's 74-yard touchdown run on the second play of the third quarter that sliced Cleveland's lead to 10-7.
Pickett finished 15-for-28 passing for 106 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions.
Johnson was targeted eight times and caught two passes for 16 yards.
Wide receiver George Pickens was targeted six times and caught four passes for 38 yards.
"They're a great defense, hats off to them first," Pickett said. "But we didn't play and I didn't play well enough.
"I'm always confident in myself. It's the ultimate team game. We gotta come together and figure this thing out."
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Game action photos from the Steelers' Week 11 game against the Cleveland Browns at Cleveland Browns Stadium