The Cleveland Browns were betting favorites on the road in Week 17, but it was the Pittsburgh Steelers that picked up the win on Monday Night Football.
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The months of November and December were filled with some big NFL upsets, and starting 2022 off with an upset is a big win for those setting the lines.
Big Ben Set to Retire?
The Pittsburgh Steelers might be looking for a new quarterback next season after it appeared that this was the final home game for Ben Roethlisberger. Things haven’t always gone well for Roethlisberger and the Steelers this season, but it was a pretty good finish.
The overall numbers were not great for Roethlisberger, but it was good enough to deliver a win for his team. Roethlisberger was 24-for-46 on Monday night and threw for 123 yards with one touchdown and one interception.
Pittsburgh has struggled to run the football all season long, but it wasn’t a problem in this game. Running back Najee Harris rushed for 188 yards and one score as the Browns simply had no answer for him.
On defense, it was T.J. Watt leading a terrific Steelers pass rush that really frustrated Baker Mayfield all night long. Watt racked up four sacks in the win and now has 21 of them on the season.
In the first half, Pittsburgh completely shut down the Browns offense, rolling out to a 10-0 record at halftime. The game was still close until the final minute when Harris broke free to seal the game with a 37-yard touchdown run.
If this was the final home game for Roethlisberger, then it was a fitting way to end a Hall of Fame career. “Big Ben” put up some historic numbers in Pittsburgh and consistently dominated the AFC North throughout his career.
Browns Fell Apart Late
This was the third straight loss for the Cleveland Browns, and the late collapse kept them from reaching the playoffs for a second straight year. Cleveland was supposed to be one of the top teams in the AFC this season, but injuries and other issues just derailed things in a hurry.
Mayfield really struggled with accuracy in this game, going just 16-for-38 with 185 yards and two touchdowns. Another issue for Mayfield this season has been turnovers, and the quarterback had two of them in this loss as well.
Running the football had been a significant strength for the Browns, but that wasn’t the case in this matchup. Nick Chubb had just 12 carries for 58 yards, and he was taken entirely out of this game from the early going.
The Browns nearly went 45 full minutes before scoring a point, and they were stuck trying to play catchup from that point. The Cleveland Browns defense has been ravaged by injuries and illness of late, and they just weren’t able to get any pressure on the Steelers or Roethlisberger.
Can Pittsburgh Make the Playoffs?
The win on Monday Night Football kept the Pittsburgh Steelers alive in the AFC Playoff race, but a lot still needs to go right. Pittsburgh is still just 8-7-1 on the year, and there are three teams ahead of them with nine wins.
Pittsburgh will travel to Baltimore in Week 18 to take on the Ravens, another team looking to make a surprising entry into the playoffs. The Steelers will have to get some help to reach the postseason, but the Week 17 win at least kept them in the hunt for one more week.
The Cleveland Browns were officially eliminated from postseason contention with the loss, and it’s time to start thinking about next season.