PITTSBURGH (AP) — Ben Roethlisberger handed for 123 yards with a landing and an interception in doubtless his final begin at Heinz Field, and the Pittsburgh Steelers dealt with the listless Cleveland Browns 26-14 on Monday evening to hold their postseason hopes alive.
Pittsburgh (8-7-1) wants a win at Baltimore subsequent week mixed with a loss by Indianapolis to Jacksonville to attain the playoffs for the twelfth time in Roethlisberger’s 18 seasons.
He hardly did it alone. Rookie Najee Harris ran for a career-best 188 yards and a landing, Chris Boswell kicked 4 discipline objectives and T.J. Watt sacked Baker Mayfield 4 instances to give him 21 1/2 on the season, one in need of the NFL file set by Hall of Famer Michael Strahan in 2001.
Pittsburgh’s protection sacked Mayfield 9 instances in all as Cleveland (7-9) — which was eradicated from postseason competition on Sunday — inexplicably put the sport on Mayfield’s tattered shoulders fairly than feed working again Nick Chubb towards the NFL’s worst rush protection.
Chubb ran 12 instances for 58 yards whereas Mayfield threw it 37 instances, finishing simply 16, for 185 yards with two touchdowns and two picks, hardly making a compelling case to be the workforce’s long-term answer at a place the place instability has been the norm for many years.
Things are far totally different in Pittsburgh. In extra methods than one.
Roethlisberger, now 39, has outlined the franchise from the second he took over for an injured Tommy Maddox as a rookie two weeks into the 2004 season.
The sellout crowd roared as Roethlisberger jogged out onto the Heinz Field turf for the one hundred and thirty fifth time because the beginning quarterback and commenced chanting “Let’s Go Ben! Let’s Go Ben!” as he made his approach out for the opening coin toss. It was an honor Roethlisberger took by himself after teammates and fellow co-captains Cam Heyward and Derek Watt let him stroll to the midfield emblem alone.
Roethlisberger had tears in his eyes throughout a postgame interview with ESPN.
“I’m just so thankful for these fans and this place. There’s no place like it,” he mentioned.
Roethlisberger was cautious to level out he had no plans to make the final two video games of his 18th season ceremonial.
The tank is perhaps working low, however it’s not empty, and he confirmed flashes — briefly, anyway — of the play that made him a two-time Super Bowl champion and a Hall of Famer every time he decides it is over.
A shoulder faux right here. A step up in the pocket there. The toes do not transfer as quick as they used to. His arm does not ship with the precision of the previous. The field-stretching heaves have been largely changed by dinks and dunks designed in half to defend him behind an offensive line that is not practically as gifted because the teams he led to the postseason with regularity.
Yet if there’s been one fixed throughout Roethlisberger’s profession, it has been his mastery of the Browns, who famously handed over the Ohio native in favor of tight finish Kellen Winslow Jr. in the 2004 draft.
Roethlisberger’s victory improved his file to 26-3-1 towards Cleveland and supplied a small measure of revenge lower than a 12 months after he threw 4 interceptions in a first-round house playoff loss to the Browns final January.
That evening was supposed to be the launching level for Cleveland heading into 2021. It merely hasn’t occurred. Injuries and inconsistent play from Mayfield amongst others will pressure the Browns to watch the playoffs from house for the 18th time in the final 19 years.
The Steelers constructed a 13-0 benefit behind Roethlisberger’s 417th profession landing cross, a 5-yard flip to Diontae Johnson in the primary half that marked Pittsburgh’s first first-half landing since earlier than Thanksgiving.
Cleveland briefly obtained again into it in the third quarter when Mayfield hit David Njoku for a 6-yard rating, however there could be no comeback. Not with Watt bolstering his Defensive Player of the Year candidacy and a protection that is been shoddy at greatest for a lot of the final two months summoning a menace it has lacked for lengthy stretches.
And Harris confirmed he can lead the Pittsburgh offense every time the post-Roethlisberger period begins.
Browns: Lost CB Greedy Williams in the primary half to a shoulder harm and LB Sione Takitaki to a shoulder harm in the second half. CB Denzel Ward exited in the third quarter with a groin situation, additional depleting a secondary already lacking beginning safeties Ronnie Harrison and John Johnson.
Cleveland: Wraps up a disappointing season at house on Sunday towards AFC North champion Cincinnati.
Pittsburgh: Looks to sweep Baltimore for the second straight season on Sunday and get just a little assist elsewhere.
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