Cleveland Browns 14-26 Pittsburgh Steelers: Ben Roethlisberger wins his last home game to keep Pittsburgh's playoff hopes alive
Pittsburgh pass T.J. Watt records a career-high four of his team's nine sacks on the night to take the league lead with 21.5 on the season, placing him just shy - with one game still to play - of the official all-time record set by Michael Strahan for the Giants in 2001
Last Updated: 04/01/22 11:23am
Ben Roethlisberger threw a touchdown pass in what was likely his final home game in Pittsburgh and the Steelers kept their slim playoff hopes alive with a 26-14 victory over the already-eliminated Cleveland Browns on Monday night.
Story of the Game
Though Roethlisberger was the focus going into the game, and during emotional scenes at the end where he appeared to bid an emotional farewell to his adoring fans, it was the efforts of rookie running back Najee Harris and the Pittsburgh defensive line - and specifically pass rusher extraordinaire T.J. Watt - that dazzled on the night.
Watt recorded a career-high four of his team's nine sacks as he took over the league lead with 21.5 on the season, placing him just shy - with one game still to play - of the official all-time record set by Michael Strahan for the New York Giants in 2001
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Harris, meanwhile, rushed for a career-best 188 yards on 28 carries, breaking the Steelers franchise's single-season rookie rushing record, his 1,172 yards passing Hall of Famer Franco Harris' 1,055 in 1972. Harris iced Pittsburgh's win by breaking free for a 37-yard rushing touchdown in the final minute.
Roethlisberger threw a five-yard touchdown pass to Diontae Johnson in the second quarter but, if this was indeed to be the 39-year-old's last ever game in front of his home fans at Heinz Field, it was far from his best outing as he completed just 24 of his 46 attempts for a season-low mark of 123 yards.
The two-time Super Bowl winner with the Steelers, who turns 40 in March, has not officially announced his retirement from the NFL, but in the build-up to this game he did say "that all signs are pointing to this could be it". The quarterback moved into fifth place on the NFL's all-time passing yards list on December 19 and he owns most of Pittsburgh's franchise passing records, including for completions (5,386), yards (63,721) and touchdowns (416).
Browns QB Baker Mayfield, meanwhile, endured a tough evening, going 16 of 38 for 185 yards, being sacked nine times, along with throwing two touchdowns - to David Njoku and Harrison Bryant - and two interceptions.
Chris Boswell was successful with four field goal attempts to see the Steelers open up a 19-7 lead inside the final six minutes of the contest. Though the Browns made it a five-point game with little over a minute left after Mayfield's second scoring strike of the day, any hope of a remarkable comeback was soon quashed as Pittsburgh recovered the ensuing onside kick and Harris went off to the races three plays later.
With victory, the Steelers (8-7-1) are guaranteed again to finish the season .500 or above. They've still yet to return a losing record in any of head coach Mike Tomlin's 15 seasons in charge of the team.
- Passing: Baker Mayfield, 16/38, 185 yards, 2 TDs, 2 INTs
- Rushing: Nick Chubb, 12 carries, 58 yards
- Receiving: Donovan Peoples-Jones, three catches, 76 yards
- Passing: Ben Roethlisberger, 24/46, 123 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT
- Rushing: Najee Harris, 28 carries, 188 yards, 1 TD
- Receiving: Diontae Johnson, eight catches, 31 yards, 1 TD
|Browns 0-7 Steelers||Ben Roethlisberger five-yard TD pass to Diontae Johnson (extra point)|
|Browns 0-10 Steelers||Chris Boswell 22-yard field goal|
|Browns 0-13 Steelers||Chris Boswell 30-yard field goal|
|Browns 7-13 Steelers||Baker Mayfield three-yard TD pass to David Njoku (extra point)|
|Browns 7-16 Steelers||Chris Boswell 50-yard field goal|
|Browns 7-19 Steelers||Chris Boswell 48-yard field goal|
|Browns 14-19 Steelers||Baker Mayfield one-yard TD pass to Harrison Bryant (extra point)|
|Browns 14-26 Steelers||Najee Harris 37-yard TD run (extra point)|
What they said...
Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers quarterback: "It's funny because, it's probably not the way you wanted [to go out], other than the win.
"And that's all that really matters. That's kind of been the story of my career. It's not always pretty, but we find a way.
"Man did our defense step up tonight and the guys, it was just so much fun to be out here. These are the best fans in sports and this is the best place to play.
"We've still got another game, I'll be excited, ready to go for that, but this is just an awesome place."
Mike Tomlin, Steelers head coach: "We're just so appreciative of [No. 7], not only his play, but his leadership.
"Tonight we just pause and we're appreciative of seven and his body of work. Just a beautiful thing.
"I was just appreciating the last 15 years with him. We've been through a lot. We've seen a lot. It's been a heck of a ride. It's one that it's been an honour to be a part of and enjoy."
In order to make the playoffs, Pittsburgh (8-7-1) must win at the Baltimore Ravens (8-8) - who are also still in the hunt for a postseason berth - on the final Sunday of the regular season, while they also need the Indianapolis Colts (9-7) to lose at the Jacksonville Jaguars (2-14) and hope that the Los Angeles Chargers (9-7) game with the Las Vegas Raiders (9-7) does not end in a tie.
As for the Browns (7-9), they were already eliminated from contention prior to Monday night's game and their disappointing campaign comes to a close as they host the AFC North division-clinching Cincinnati Bengals (10-6).
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