Pittsburgh came up just short of the playoffs, but finished with a winning record
Sunday was certainly a bittersweet day for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Pittsburgh handled its business by recording a 28-14 win over the Browns, but was eliminated from playoff contention after the Dolphins kicked a late field goal to defeat the Jets.
While they won’t be playing this postseason, the Steelers’ late surge should be a sign of good things to come for Mike Tomlin’s team. The Steelers, who ushered in a new era this season with rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett, finished the season with a 9-8 record after a 3-7 start. The Steelers increased their NFL-best streak of non-losing seasons to 19, while Tomlin expanded his record of 16 straight non-losing seasons to begin a coaching career.
Neither team had separated itself from the other until Kazee’s pick of Watson late in the third quarter. Pittsburgh’s offense capitalized on the short field after Harris punched it home for his 10th total touchdown of the season.
The Steelers’ resilience this season was again on display on Sunday. Pittsburgh fell behind early before scoring 20 unanswered points against the Browns, who finished last in the AFC North for a second straight year. Cleveland cut its deficit to 20-14 in the second half before Derek Watt’s touchdown run and Diontae Johnson’s two-point conversion catch gave the home team an insurmountable 14-point lead with under five minutes left.
George Pickens’ 31-yard touchdown catch tied the score after David Njoku’s 10-yard touchdown catch gave the Browns a 7-0 lead midway through the second quarter. The Steelers took their first lead just before halftime when Levi Wallace’s interception of Deshaun Watson set up Chris Boswell’s first of two field goals.
Pittsburgh’s lead swelled to 13 points when Damontae Kazee’s interception set up Najee Harris’ 3-yard touchdown run late in the third quarter. Watt’s game-clinching score occurred moments after Nick Chubb caught Watson’s second touchdown of the game from 2 yards out.