POSSESSION DOWN DEFENSE
A week ago, against the Philadelphia Eagles, the Steelers allowed a better than 70 percent conversion rate on third downs, and rather than being an aberration it was the low point of a season that left them tied-for-27th in the league in that category. But in an important AFC North game against the best team they had faced to this point, the Steelers defense dominated the Cleveland Browns on possession downs on the way to a 38-7 victory.
It started on the first third-down situation of the game for the Cleveland offense. Minkah Fitzpatrick intercepted a Baker Mayfield pass and returned it 33 yards for a touchdown that gave the Steelers a 10-0 lead before the midway point of the first quarter.
It was more of the same throughout the rest of the game, with the Browns offense finishing 1-for-12 on third downs and 0-for-3 on fourth downs for a combined 1-for-15 (7 percent) on possession downs. The Steelers' possession down defense make up the Steelers Digest Players of the Week.
Also considered were James Conner who rushed for 101 yards on 20 carries and scored a touchdown; Bud Dupree, who had four tackles and two sacks; Cam Heyward, who led the team with eight tackles, including one for loss, and was immovable at times in short-yardage situations; Robert Spillane, who replaced the injured Devin Bush and contributed five tackles on defense, including one for loss, plus a tackle on special teams; Vince Williams, who had six tackles, including one for loss, and was a physical presence in the middle of the defense; Chase Claypool, who caught four passes for a team-best 74 yards, and also added another rushing touchdown; and Ben Roethlisberger, who completed 14-of-22 (63.6 percent) for 162 yards, with one touchdown, no interceptions, a rating of 100.9 and still is undefeated against the Browns at Heinz Field.