CLEVELAND – The Steelers had more first downs (22-19), converted a higher percentage on third downs (38-36), possessed the ball longer (33:05-26:55) and amassed just 9 fewer total net yards (368-359) in their rematch against the Browns.
But their 0-for-3 effort in the red zone and the Browns' 3-for-3 red zone efficiency was as representative as it was decisive in Cleveland's 31-10 triumph.
"We didn't produce points that reflected the way we possessed the ball and the yards that we gathered," Coach Mike Tomlin lamented.
The Steelers entered the game ranked No. 26 in the NFL in red zone efficiency, having scored seven touchdowns on 16 red zone possessions (43.8 percent). The 0-for-3 in Cleveland now has them at 36.8 percent.
"There's nothing else you can really say other than produce points," running back Le'Veon Bell said. "I thought we were effective running the ball. We just aren't finishing the drives. I wish I could put a finger on it but I don't know. We just didn't finish."
Added quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, "We tried to run it in the red zone today. We'll look at it and figure out if it's execution, what it is."
POINTING THE THUMB: Roethlisberger summed up his 21-for-42, 228-yard afternoon thusly: "I didn't play well enough. Just need to get better."
Roethlisberger threw one touchdown and one interception and finished with a passer rating of 64.4.
"I'll be able to give you a more accurate answer when I look at it (on film), but missing throws, didn't make some good calls at times, just need to be better," he continued. "I hold myself to a higher standard. I gotta be better.
"I didn't play well enough."
Wide receiver Antonio Brown said Roethlisberger shouldn't feel alone in that regard.
"Every man to a man has to find a way to execute, detail their assignment and be the reason why we win," Brown said. "It's not only Ben, it's every man to a man. We have to find a way to produce victories and find a way to be better."
BIG-PLAY BLUES**: The Browns had five passes that went for at least 24 yards (51, 42, 31, 31 and 24) included in quarterback Brian Hoyer's 8-for-17, 217-yard afternoon.
"If you look at the quarterback, it wasn't like he was Peyton Manning, 90 percent (completions) or whatever," linebacker Lawrence Timmons said. "He just made the big plays and made those necessary plays to move the chains."
Hoyer's 51-yard hook-up with tight end Jordan Cameron went for a second-quarter touchdown.
The two had combined on a 42-yard strike to the Steelers' 5-yard line on the Browns' previous possession, which ended a play later on running back Isaiah Crowell's 5-yard touchdown run.
"They hit us on a couple little trick-gadget throw-backs," free safety Mike Mitchell said. "That allowed them to get some rhythm. When they played it straight up we were pretty dominant. Just got to eliminate the trick-gadget plays that they were able to get some chunks on and obviously get the crowd going and get some momentum.
"I thought we were doing a good job controlling the run and then they hit us with the throw-back and then that starts to slow everybody down. You gotta have good eyes. You gotta see what you're supposed to see and be where you're supposed to be, and we didn't do that."
BOUNCE-BACK MODE: The Steelers hadn't lost to the Browns by as many as 20 points since 2003 and hadn't suffered a loss against Cleveland by more than a 20-point margin since 1989.
So what transpired at FirstEnergy Stadium on Sunday clearly wasn't what the Steelers had in mind or the type of defeat they're used to absorbing in this series.
But that said, Browns 31, Steelers 10 wouldn't be especially difficult to put behind them, the Steelers maintained afterward.
"It better not be too tough," defensive end Cam Heyward insisted. "We have the rest of the season to worry about."
Timmons maintained the Steelers would rebound and regroup in advance of getting ready for their Oct. 20 hosting of Houston.
"Of course, we're the Steelers," he said.
THEY SAID IT
"You can't give up 21 points in the first half." – Mitchell.
"I said it last week. This is the best opponent we've played yet. We took one on the chin today, we did. We couldn't find a way to respond. We have to look at it and hopefully learn from it. We have to learn from the bad and hopefully turn it into something good." – defensive end Brett Keisel.
"We're all frustrated but we'll stay together." – Roethlisberger.