Browns Capitalize on Steelers' Mistakes in Win
It wasn't over before it started – but it was over soon after.
The Pittsburgh Steelers turned the ball over three times in the first quarter, helping the Cleveland Browns secure a 28-0 lead that they eventually turned into a 48-37 win, the franchise's first postseason victory since 1994.
Here are the key takeaways from this wacky, AFC North-themed playoff matchup.
1. Those first 15 minutes
Browns fans were in heaven during the first quarter.
Those on the Steelers' side were in the opposite environment.
Pittsburgh grabbed the attention of the football world for all the wrong reasons on its first snap of the game, when center Mike Pouncey launched the ball past quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, it squeaked into the end zone, and it was recovered by Cleveland safety Karl Joseph, giving the Browns a 7-0 lead to start the game.
But it didn't stop there.
On Pittsburgh's next possession, Roethlisberger was intercepted by Browns cornerback M.J. Stewart Jr., a turnover that Cleveland turned into points three plays later via a touchdown pass from Baker Mayfield to Jarvis Landry, making it 14-0.
The Steelers went three-and-out on their next possession, and then Cleveland needed just six plays to take a 21-0 lead on an 11-yard TD run by Kareem Hunt.
Wait – it's not over yet.
On the third play of Pittsburgh's next possession, Big Ben threw another pick – this time to Cleveland safety Sheldrick Redwine – and three plays later, Hunt scored once again, this time on an 8-yard scamper, giving Cleveland a 28-0 lead before the second quarter even started.
Of course, with all this drama going down, the internet had thoughts and opinions. A lot of 'em.
2. End of the line?
It wasn't that Mayfield played incredible.
It was that Roethlisberger was so bad that it made Mayfield look incredible.
Big Ben has now completed his 17th season, and after helping the Steelers to a 11-0 record to start the season, Pittsburgh sputtered over the last six weeks of the regular season and the playoffs, going 1-5 in those six games.
And in the five games that he played, Roethlisberger sputtered as well.
In that time, Big Ben threw 12 touchdowns and eight interceptions, completing just over 62 percent of his passes and posting an 81.2 passer rating.
Not bad, but nowhere near how he started the season, when he posted a passer rating over 100 in seven of Pittsburgh's first 11 games, to go along with 25 touchdown passes and just six picks.
And after Sunday's four-TD, four-INT performance, some are wondering if Roethlisberger is done.
Mayfield, on the other hand, did bring his A-game to Heinz Field on Sunday night, completing 21 of 34 passes for 263 yards and three touchdowns.
He – along with the Steelers – helped deliver Cleveland its first playoff win in 26 years, and now, Baker officially is a Midwestern legend (along with the rest of the Browns).