The Pittsburgh Steelers seemed to have quite a bit of confidence heading into Sunday's Super Wild-Card Weekend matchup, and it's hard to blame them. Pittsburgh was the last unbeaten team in the NFL this season, they've been far more successful than the Cleveland Browns (their opponent) in recent years, and the Browns were missing several key pieces -- including their head coach -- due to COVID-19 on Sunday.
But perhaps the Steelers were too confident because Pittsburgh was a total mess to start the game and the Browns wasted absolutely no time in punching them in the mouth. After a botched snap resulted in a Cleveland defensive touchdown on the first drive, Ben Roethlisberger then turned the ball over repeatedly until the Browns held an early 28-0 lead, and ultimately took a 35-10 halftime lead into the locker room.
With Cleveland being one of the league's biggest laughing stocks for so long, a lot of people couldn't believe the dominance that they showed in the first half. Many players past and present were riled up through the first couple of quarters, with some having trouble processing what they were seeing.
Projected final score after 1 quarter of play:— Hawk (@Hawk) January 11, 2021
Lets see how it plays out.
Pittsburgh tryna get Tomlin fired— Eric Weems Sr. (@ericweems) January 11, 2021
Hey Cleveland we Rocking— Ted Ginn Jr (@TedGinnJr_19) January 11, 2021
I’ve never seen the wheels fall off a team late in the season like has happened with the Steelers...they were the last unbeaten team...— JoelDreessen (@JoelDreessen) January 11, 2021
While it was a painful half for every Steelers player and fan, it may have been a particularly tough scene for JuJu Smith-Schuster, who made the mistake of giving Cleveland some bulletin board fodder earlier in the week. JuJu told the media these were the "same old Browns" during Pittsburgh's week of preparations, and that statement proved to look pretty foolish in hindsight, at leas through the first half.
Juju might want to shut his mouth from now on....— Kavon Frazier (@Kay_BlackSimba) January 11, 2021
Man.....same old browns huh juju?👀 😂😂😂😂— Vinston Painter (@big_paint) January 11, 2021
Cleveland went on to win 48-37, and advance to the Divisional round and a trip to Kansas City to take on the Chiefs.