In a quarterback-driven league, two of the Steelers’ highest-paid players are outside linebackers TJ Watt and Alex Highsmith. Watt and Highsmith proved their worth Monday night, when both players scored touchdowns in the Steelers’ 26-22 victory over the Browns, who alsoto a serious knee injury in the first half.
Highsmith opened the scoring with a 30-yard pick-six from Deshaun Watson on the first play of the game. Watt scored the final touchdown of the game after collecting Highsmith’s sack of Watson with 6:58 left. Watt’s night also included.when he tackled Watson with just over a minute left in the first half.
Fittingly, the Steelers defense secured the victory when they forced a turnover on Cleveland’s next possession. The game-clinching play was made by rookie Joey Porter Jr., who broke up Watson’s fourth-down throw to Donovan Peoples-Jones with just over a minute left.
Pittsburgh led, 16-14, at halftime thanks to Highsmith’s pick-six and Kenny Pickett’s 71-yard touchdown pass to George Pickens, who recorded the second 100-yard receiving game of his career. Cleveland’s only touchdown in the first half came on a three-yard touchdown pass from Watson to running back Jerome Ford one play after Chubb was carted off the field.
Here’s a closer look at what happened in Pittsburgh.
Why the Steelers won
It’s hard to lose a game when your defense scores multiple touchdowns, as was the case Monday night. But the Steelers still had to pull out a win due to their continued struggles on offense, which will likely be the talk this week in Pittsburgh. The unit began to show signs of life in the second half, specifically the running game and Pickett’s connection with Pickens.
As noted above, the Steelers defense triumphed. But Pittsburgh also received a significant contribution from punter Pressley Harvin III, who had a 61-yard punt and four punts that were taken inside the Browns’ 20-yard line.
Pittsburgh’s victory came at a cost, as All-Pro safety Minkah Fitzpatrick left the game with a chest injury during the second half. Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said after the game that Fitzpatrick was.
Why the Browns lost
Four turnovers and several damaging penalties (including two personal fouls on Watson) were two big reasons the Browns fell short in their attempt to get to 2-0 for the first time since 1993. The biggest reason, however, It might as well have been the loss of Chubb, whose tangible and intangible impact on the Browns is difficult to put into words.
The Browns put up a valiant fight after losing Chubb, who had 64 yards on 10 carries before the injury. Ford, who is scheduled to replace Chubb in the starting lineup going forward, rushed for 106 yards on 16 carries Monday night, including his 69-yard run that set up the Browns’ go-ahead score at five. minutes of the third quarter.
The Browns had eight penalties on Monday, but none were more damaging to Cleveland’s cause than what occurred with 11:28 left and the Browns up, 22-19, and facing a third-and-2 on the Browns’ 35-yard pass. Steelers. line.
Ford appeared to give the Browns a big first down on a five-yard run, but a call on lineman Ethan Pocic nullified the play and took Cleveland out of field goal range. On the next play, Watson ran seven yards but was penalized 15 yards after grabbing Kwon Alexander’s facemask out of bounds.
Now facing a third-and-26, Watson checked on tight end David Njoku, who fumbled on a one-on-one play by linebacker Cole Holcomb, giving the Steelers possession at their own 44-yard line.
The Steelers did not score on the next drive, but managed to pin the Browns at their 6-yard line after Harvin’s 61-yard boot. Watt scored on a sack of Highsmith five plays later.
play of the game
On his sack, Highsmith beat Browns tackle Jedrick Wills Jr. before getting to Watson, who was tackled six times Monday night. Watt, who was closing in on Watson himself, grabbed the loose pigskin before scoring the first touchdown of his career.
“We looked at each other before the play and knew it was a pass play. We knew exactly what the play was going to be. (Highsmith) came off the edge, caused the fumble, was right in the right area at the time. I was able to get and score and the place went crazy. – Watt to ESPN’s Lisa Salters as she describes her winning score.
The Steelers will travel to Las Vegas for a primetime showdown on Sunday night. The Raiders outscored the Broncos in Week 1, but were on the wrong end of a lopsided score (38-10) last Sunday in Buffalo. The Browns will return home to host the Titans, who evened their record at 1-1 after defeating the Chargers last Sunday.
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