Deep breaths, everyone; just take a few deep breaths. If you haven’t already, check out the review of this game here before moving forward.
Now, this loss doesn’t take away from the fact that the Cleveland Browns are still 4-2 and also have a better match-up in Week 7 against the Cincinnati Bengals. That’s not why we’re here, unfortunately.
We’re here to talk about everything that went right (if any); what went wrong; and, honestly, WTF happened with this team against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
What Went Right
It was a long game and it feels like nothing truly went right. However, there are always silver linings, and I’ve made it my mission to find them.
Now, if I were to give out a game ball it would be to the defense, which is very ironic considering the score but hear me out. The Browns defense kept them in the game early and batted down multiple passes on third downs to help the offense gain better field position, while Ben Roethlisberger was held to only 162 passing yards.
The defense was also good on third-downs (5-of-14 for 35%), with the Steelers offense looking slowed-down more often than not. The entire first quarter, the defense held strong, allowing only a field goal while giving the Cleveland offense multiple opportunities to capitalize.
Browns tight end Austin Hooper led the team in receiving yards ,which is great to finally see from the guy getting paid $40 million for the next few years. But, the offense as a whole was rough.
Now, get the heavy liquor ready, because now it’s onto…
What Went Wrong
Where to even begin?
I guess I’ll start with the defense, since I gave them the game ball previously, and they weren’t nearly as bad as the offense.
The run defense was decent at preventing big plays, but James Conner still took chunks away every time he carried the football, finishing with 101 rushing yards. Allowing three rushing touchdowns in the red zone is not acceptable anyway, especially on an end-around to Chase Claypool — that is just plain disrespectful. Not only did Conner have a good day, the injury-riddled secondary allowed multiple big plays down the field to keep the Steelers offense alive; no amount of third-down stops can hinder that.
Now, onto the offense.
Refill your glass with whichever whiskey or bourbon you desire, because this is a purely disappointing and shameful excuse of an offense, and everyone should want to forget this game.
First and foremost, the Steelers are to the Browns what the Kanasa City Chiefs have been to the Baltimore Ravens in the Lamar Jackson era. This game exemplified that, while also showing that without Wyatt Teller, the Browns offensive line is not the same.
Kareem Hunt was held to only 40 rushing yards and was stopped at the line of scrimmage way too often, and for a man of his talents, that’s hard to do. Not only that, but the rest of the line looked extremely bad. Joel Bitonio, who has been the most consistent lineman for the Browns post-Joe Thomas, had multiple bad plays; while Jedrick Wills and Jack Conklin had their fair share of issues, as well. Offensive penalties killed momentum, even with good starting field position multiple times. This team just looked extremely overwhelmed against elite competition, and it hurts to say that towards the Steelers.
Baker Mayfield looked shaky and the Steelers defensive front was letting him have it, with every other play seemingly ending with Mayfield on the ground and in pain due to his nagging ribs. It was bad enough that he was benched for Case Keenum, adding insult to injury on his poor performance. The past few quarters Mayfield has played is giving flashbacks to the 2019 season, and nobody wants that scary sight even if it is October.
Baker. Mayfield. WTF, dude.
Not only did he look terrible against the Steelers, but in the second half against the Indianapolis Colts, he looked bad, as well!
After the Week 1 loss to the Ravens, I wasn’t expecting much out of Mayfield; just more of the same as last year. But then, in the weeks following, he looked… good! Calm in the pocket, hitting his receivers more often — overall, positive things you want to see from a franchise quarterback.
Now, with his two interceptions against the Steelers, Mayfield has four interceptions and only one touchdown pass in the past two weeks. He is becoming so consistently inconsistent, it’s hard to root for him because nobody knows which Mayfield they’re going to get.
Some of his play can be blamed on his ribs, and I partly believe that is why he was benched, but there’s no denying that Mayfield is regressing again. Luckily, he has a “prove it” game this week to shut me up (hopefully).
There are still plenty of games left in the season for Baker Mayfield to turn it around, and if he does, I will sing his praises.
But, if not, I will not hesitate to say the Browns should not pick up his fifth-year option, and should consider drafting a quarterback in the 2021 class, depending on where they pick.
Right now, though, Cleveland needs to focus on beating the Bengals on the road — and rediscover their identity — to, hopefully, move to 5-2 on the year.
(Featured Image Credit: ClevelandBrowns.com)