STEELERS 20, BROWNS 7
Steelers' record: 8-8
One year ago: 8-8
Series record (including playoffs): Steelers lead, 67-57
STEELERS-BROWNS SERIES FACTOID
Because they lost 16 of the first 18 games of this series that began in 1950, the Steelers didn't even get to .500 vs. the Browns until 2006 when a 27-7 victory on Dec. 7 at Heinz Field evened the overall record at 55-55. Since then, the Steelers have won 12 of 14 to put their edge at 67-57. Chuck Noll's teams were 25-21 vs. the Browns; Bill Cowher's were 21-5; and Mike Tomlin's now are 12-2.
The scenario, the various permutations of the scenarios, all were going to mean nothing if the Steelers didn't defeat the Browns. With the Steelers coming into the game with a 5-2 record over the previous seven weeks, and with the Browns riding a six-game losing streak, these were teams headed in decidedly different directions as the regular season was drawing to a close. "Largely, it's about us and having the singular focus that's going to be necessary to produce an A-like performance for us in the midst of all the things that are going on with the (playoff) possibilities, the holiday week and so forth," said Coach Mike Tomlin. We just want to live in these moments, prepare to the best of our abilities and put ourselves in the best position to play."
RECORDS ARE MADE TO BE BROKEN, AND WERE
* With nine catches for 87 yards today against the Browns, Antonio Brown became the first player in NFL history to have at least five receptions and at least 50 receiving yards in every game of a 16-game regular season. Brown's streak of 16 such games is the second longest overall in the NFL, with the 19 games posted by Laveranues Coles from Sept. 29, 2002 through Oct. 12, 2003 being the longest.
- With a 9-yard run midway through the third quarter, Le'Veon Bell broke Franco Harris' rookie record for yards from scrimmage in a season. Bell totaled 96 yards from scrimmage vs. the Browns to finish with 1,259 on the season, which broke Franco Harris' franchise record for rookies. In 1972, Harris finished with 1,235 yards from scrimmage (1,055 rushing, 180 receiving).
As Coach Mike Tomlin said, this was to be a game determined largely by the Steelers' performance. Play well, and they figured to defeat the Browns. Play poorly and help the opponent with turnovers and mistakes, and the outcome could have been in doubt. In situations such as this, getting off to a quick start often can convince the underdogs that this just isn't to be their day. On the first two possessions of the game, the Steelers defense hung a three-and-out on the Cleveland offense, and then the Pittsburgh offense drove 62 yards in nine plays for a touchdown. With 9:53 remaining in the first quarter, the Steelers had asserted themselves and established some control of the game.
STAT THAT STANDS OUT
The Steelers' 14-0 halftime lead was a direct result of the team's edge in a couple of statistical areas that are reflective of situational football. The Steelers converted 4-of-6 on third downs, while the Browns were held to 1-of-6. Pittsburgh also was 2-for-2 in the red zone.