The Steelers four-game win streak is over, and it couldn’t have come in uglier fashion.
Injuries to their two top play makers on offense, along with four interceptions from quarterback Mason Rudolph was enough for black and gold to fall for the first time in five years to the Cleveland Browns, losing 21-7 at First Energy Stadium.
The two play makers that were injured were running back James Conner, who left with the same shoulder injury that kept him out the last two games, and wide out JuJu Smith-Schuster, who left after getting concussed after a helmet to helmet hit.
The loss puts the team at 5-5 on the season, and if there’s one bright spot, it might be that this team has 10 days before they have to play again and hopefully will get their top offensive stars back.
Here’s a couple quick takeaways from the awful loss to their AFC North rivals.
1. Mason’s Awful Evening
The Steelers starting quarterback was terrible, but you could make the argument that he not only lost JuJu Smith-Schuster, but also rookie Dionte Johnson, who also was hit helmet to helmet and left the game with a concussion.
On the night, Rudolph had to throw the ball 44 times, and went 23-for-44 for 221 yards with a touchdown and four interceptions.
One reason the Steelers were able to run off a four-game win streak is that they were for the most part careful with the ball, on this night Rudolph was not.
He was also sacked four times, and was under pressure all night as the O-line didn’t play all that well.
2. The Final 8 Seconds
No matter how you look at this game, there’s one thing that everyone will be talking about, and that’s the final eight seconds when Browns linebacker Myles Garrett ripped off Rudolph’s helmet and swung it at him, likely earning himself a massive fine and two to four game suspension.
It was an incredible scene as Garrett went after the QB in the final seconds, and again there’s no room for that in the NFL, and it basically was more like an assault than anything else.
The Steelers might not escape without a big issue of their own, as center Markuice Pouncey went after Garrett, punching and kicking him, and may himself be sitting for a game.
Even Cleveland QB Baker Mayfield said after the game that the team has to play smarter, and Garrett is going to sadly learn the hard way in the pocketbook as well as sitting for a few games.
3. The Defense
The Steelers defense was putting up takeaways at a record pace before Thursday, but one main reason why the Steelers were 14-point losers is the fact they had no turnovers and just one sack in the loss.
The team had their chances against Mayfield, setting up what should be an interesting rematch for two weeks in Heinz Field, as they could have had 5-6 sacks, and even Mike Tomlin said that the game got away with the way that Mayfield was able to escape the pocket and make plays, and it started on Cleveland’s first series on third down with a 20-yard play to Kareem Hunt.
You have to give credit to the defense for putting the team in a position to trail 14-7 midway through the fourth quarter, but in the end a huge turnover or even another score on defense would have been huge and maybe a game changer.
The D has 10 days to lick their wounds, and they have a winless Bengals team coming up, and it couldn’t come at a bigger time.
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