If Browns fans have seen it once, they've seen it a million times: Their team walked into Heinz Field and got stomped.
After watching the Browns jump out to a 4-1 start for the first time since 1994, it felt like this might be finally be the year where Cleveland was able to end its 16-year run of misery in Pittsburgh, but instead, the Browns went full Browns in a 38-7 blowout loss to the Steelers that might actually have been worse than the score indicates, if that's even possible.
This game felt like a mismatch almost as soon as it began and that's mostly because the Browns were starting a hobbled quarterback in Baker Mayfield, who was questionable for the game after spending the entire week in practice dealing with a rib injury. As soon as the Browns offense stepped on the field for the first time, it seemed pretty clear that Mayfield wasn't going to have any chance against a Steelers defense that smelled blood in the water.
On Cleveland's first offensive possession, Mayfield threw a pick-six to Minkah Fitzpatrick and at that point, the rout was on.
The Browns quarterback never seemed like he was able to get comfortable while going up against a Steelers defense that had him running for his life for nearly three full quarters before he was finally benched in favor of Case Keenum. By the time he was sent to the bench, Mayfield had been sacked four times while also throwing two picks. During his time on the field, he was only able to complete 10 of 19 passes for 119 yards.
It was a wild Week 6 Sunday and there's a lot to go over. John Breech and Ryan Wilson join host Will Brinson on the Pick Six Podcast to break everything down; listen below and be sure to subscribe for daily NFL goodness.
Heinz Field has been a "House of Horrors" for the Cleveland Browns for most of the past 20 years. Since returning to the NFL in 1999, the Browns are now just 1-20 in Pittsburgh, including this loss. The Browns haven't won a game at Heinz Field since 2003 and they've never beaten Mike Tomlin in the Steelers' stadium (0-17).
This game was supposed to be a chance for the Browns to make a statement, but instead, it felt more like the Steelers reminding us why the Steelers are the Steelers and the Browns are the Browns. As Tomlin loves to say, "The standard is the standard," and the Browns just aren't playing up to the standard yet.
Alright, let's get to the grades for every game from Week 6 that's been played so far.
Pittsburgh 38-7 over Cleveland
| The Browns offensive line was horrible against Pittsburgh's threatening front seven. The Steelers capitalized on a rib injury to Baker Mayfield and knocked him around all day long until he was finally pulled in favor of Case Keenum. Cleveland could not get their vaunted rushing attack going and the quarterbacks did not have enough time to push the ball downfield. |
| The game was never in question. Pittsburgh quickly jumped out to a 10-0 lead and never looked back. The offense was good but it was the defense that made a statement Sunday. Bud Dupree and T.J. Watt forcibly pushed the Browns down in the AFC North pecking order. It was the type of complete performance that could be expected of one of the AFC's top teams.|
Browns-Steelers grades by Josh Edwards (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)
Indianapolis 31-27 over Cincinnati
|The Bengals showed glimpses of how good they can be when everything is clicking, but then they Bengal'd the game away. The Bengals blew the second-largest lead in franchise history (21-0) and it happened because everything that could go wrong, did go wrong over the final three quarters. The offense couldn't move the ball after their first quarter scoring spurt, Randy Bullock missed another important field goal and Joe Burrow threw an ugly interception in the final minute that killed any chances the Bengals had of making a comeback. This loss continued the road woes for a Bengals team that has now gone winless in 16 straight games away from Cincinnati.|
|The Colts offense got off to a cold start with a fumble and two punts on their first three possessions, but then, Philip Rivers caught fire after watching his team fall behind 21-0. Rivers, who threw for 371 yards and three touchdowns, made multiple clutch throws in this game, including a 17-yard TD to Zach Pascal on a third-and-10 in a second quarter where he threw for 235 yards. Of course, the only reason the Colts were able to battle back is because of a defense that absolutely shut the Bengals down following an ugly first quarter where they surrendered 21 points. The Colts defense made multiple big plays and none of them were bigger than Julian Blackmon's game-clinching interception of Joe Burrow with under 45 seconds left to play.|
Tennessee 42-36 over Houston
|Deshaun Watson played out of his mind in this game with 335 yards and four touchdown passes, but that wasn't good enough to win, because he was let down by a Texans defense that surrendered a franchise-record 601 yards. The performance marked just the second time since 2017 that an NFL team has given up at least 600 yards in a game. The ugly showing by the defense overshadowed the brilliant game by Watson, who led two touchdown drives over the final nine minutes of regulation. Thanks to those two touchdowns, it appeared like it was going to be enough to give Houston the win, but then the defense fell apart. The Texans didn't win because their defense gave up a 76-yard game-tying drive at the end of the fourth quarter and an 82-yard game-winning touchdown drive to start overtime.|
|The Titans didn't play a perfect offensive game on Sunday, but they came pretty close as they were able to rack up a franchise-record 601 yards. It's hard to say who was more impressive out of Ryan Tannehill and Derrick Henry, but we'll go with Henry, who totaled 264 yards and two touchdowns in the win (212 rushing yards and 52 receiving yards). Tannehill also came up big with four touchdown passes. The Titans actually appeared to have this one in hand in the third quarter, but after losing Jonnu Smith and Taylor Lewan, the offense started to fall apart. Tannehill was strip-sacked shortly after Lewan left with an injury and Stephen Gostkowski also had a field goal blocked, but the Titans ended up surviving both of those mistakes in the thrilling win.|
Atlanta 40-23 over Minnesota
|Getting rid of Dan Quinn appeared to work wonders for the Falcons because they came through with their most impressive performance of the season. The Falcons came up with big plays in all three phases of the game. Defensively, the Falcons were able to hold on to an early 10-0 lead after pulling off a goal-line stand in the second quarter where they stopped Minnesota two times from the one-yard line. Offensively, Matt Ryan caught fire, throwing for 371 yards and four touchdowns. Falcons interim coach Raheem Morris had a strong debut and proved that things are going to be run differently now that he's in charge. Not only did he have the Falcons go for it three times on fourth down, but they converted all three times and the crazy part is that two of those conversions went for long touchdowns (40-yard pass to Julio Jones on fourth-and-3 and 35-yard pass to Hayden Hurst on fourth-and-1).|
|This game was a nightmare from start to finish for Kirk Cousins, who threw an interception on Minnesota's first play from scrimmage. After the pick, things actually got worse for Cousins, who would end up throwing three interceptions in the game, which to 17 points for the Falcons. This is a game the Vikings had to have if they wanted to get back in the division race, but instead, they got embarrassed by a winless Falcons team that just fired its coach.|
Detroit 34-16 over Jacksonville
|After blowing a double-digit lead in each of their past six losses, the Lions were finally able to hold on to a big lead. Detroit jumped out to a 24-3 lead and then basically coasted from there. This game marked just the third time over the past five years that the Lions have rushed for at least 180 yards and a big reason they were able to do that is because of rookie De'Andre Swift, who rushed for 114 yards and two touchdowns on just 14 carries. Kenny Golladay also played in a game for just the third time this season and Matthew Stafford definitely took advantage of his presence, as the receiver caught four passes for 105 yards. It was a big win for Matt Patricia, who might very well have been fired if the Lions had lost in Jacksonville.|
|This loss was a comedy of errors for the Jaguars, who basically watched the game slip away during a second quarter span where they made one mistake after another. At a point in the game where they were trailing just 7-3, the Jags threw an interception, lost a fumble and missed a short field goal on their next three possessions. By the time they got the ball again, they were already trailing 17-3 and based on the way their offense played on Sunday, that was an insurmountable lead.|
Denver 18-12 over New England
| The only reason Denver doesn't get into the A category is simply because they couldn't get into the end zone. That said, they did lead wire-to-wire in this game on the leg of Brandon McManus, who netted all six of his field goals including two that were from 50-plus yards out. Vic Fangio's club played a very clean game as they took down the Patriots in Foxborough, only being penalized twice. One of which was a delay of game penalty that they basically elected to take. That first penalty also didn't occur until 10:29 in the fourth quarter. The Broncos defense was able to tip two of Cam Newton's passes and come down with interceptions, which further put them in the driver's seat to come away with the W. |
| Outside of the fourth quarter, New England looked like a team that hadn't been able to see or practice with one another for two weeks. The offense was out of sync, which was only further highlighted due to the reshuffling of the offensive line that was required thanks to injuries and COVID-19-related problems. Through three quarters, there were little-to-no explosive plays for Cam Newton and company and as an offense turned the ball over three times. Give credit to the defense for keeping them in this game and opening the window for a late comeback, but New England simply didn't bring it for all four quarters and it resulted in being under .500 this late in the year for the first time since 2002.|
Broncos-Patriots grades by Tyler Sullivan (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)
Baltimore 30-28 over Philadelphia
| The Ravens are humming along at 5-1, but something is off with their MVP quarterback. Lamar Jackson isn't throwing the football as accurately as he did last season -- especially over the past two weeks. The Eagles limited Jackson through the air, taking away the deep pass and the big play as the Ravens quarterback didn't win the game with his arm. Jackson's 37-yard touchdown run was the difference in this one, as he had his first 100-yard rushing performance of the season. The Ravens are going to need Jackson to throw the football close to his form last year if they are going to win the AFC. The defense is arguably the best in the league, recording three forced fumbles, 16 quarterback hits, and six sacks -- making Philadelphia's offense hectic early in this one. That ended up being the difference as the Eagles faced a deficit nearly impossible to overcome. |
| The Eagles had another furious comeback, but fell just short as Carson Wentz was stopped short of the goal line in the final two minutes. Kudos to Wentz for bringing the Eagles back, but he had his fifth fumble in six games this year -- tied for first in the league in that category. Wentz's turnover led to an early Ravens touchdown to put them up two scores, which was their lead the majority of the game. The Eagles averaged 10.8 yards per carry, but were forced to throw the ball 40+ times in the game due to being down the entire contest. Offensive is still inconsistent, starting the game with 16 plays for -7 yards as Philadelphia fell down three scores early. The Eagles need to start games faster, which they haven't done in their last five contests. |
Ravens-Eagles grades by Jeff Kerr (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)
Chicago 23-16 over Carolina
| It wasn't pretty, but it got the job done. Nick Foles didn't shoot the lights out and certainly made his fair share of errors, but he did just enough to keep get the Bears into the end zone on more than one occasion and to help them win the third-down conversion battle. He got a lot of help from a defense that consistently turned the screws on Teddy Bridgewater - logging four sacks on the day - and shutting out Robby Anderson and D.J. Moore both for long stretches during the game. Despite a late-game comeback scare, the Bears defense held firm on two consecutive drives to seal the deal and go to 5-1 on the season. Foles did just enough and defense did the rest in an impressive road win for the Bears.|
| Too little, too late. The Panthers got off to a slow start and didn't wake up offensively until the fourth quarter, but the Bears defense was again ready for them. Bridgewater was under siege in Charlotte -- sacked four times and pressured a lot more than those four sacks -- forced into two interceptions and a passer rating of 50.4. Both D.J. Moore and Robby Anderson contributed, but they both also disappeared for long stretches of time during the game, and Mike Davis finished with only 52 rushing yards on the day -- his touchdown being the lone Panthers visit to the end zone on the day. It was offensively a mess of a game for the Panthers, but that's also because the Bears defense gets paid, too.|
Bears-Panthers grades by Patrik Walker (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)
N.Y. Giants 20-19 over Washington
| While they scored just 19 points, Kyle Allen threw for 280 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. It was a wild roller coaster ride with him under center, and I'm not sure this performance convinces fans in DC that he's the best option at quarterback. He did lead a quick, 10-play, 75-yard drive that was capped with a 22-yard touchdown pass with less than a minute left, but it didn't end up meaning anything since he wasn't able to find an open receiver on the two-point conversion. It was an up-and-down kind of game, and I'm not sure Washington is very interested in moral victories at this point.|
| The Giants got the win on Sunday, and it was actually because of their defense. Tae Crowder recorded a 43-yard scoop-and-score to take the lead late in the fourth, and then this unit held its ground when Washington tried to win the game with a two-point conversion. New York certainly wouldn't have won this game without its defense, as Daniel Jones passed for just 112 yards, one touchdown and one interception. This was a defensive matchup from beginning to end, and the Giants did enough to record their first victory.|
WFT-Giants grades by Jordan Dajani (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)
Miami 24-0 over N.Y. Jets
| While defensive coordinator Gregg Williams threw shade on Jets coach Adam Gase last week, Williams' defense deserves plenty of blame for Sunday's loss after allowing six plays that gained at least 15 yards. Conversely, the Jets' offense struggled to create any big plays, and when they did, they failed to parley them into points. An example of this took place in the third quarter, when New York failed to score after getting a 34-yard run by running back Ty Johnson. Three plays after Johnson's run, an intentional grounding penalty of Flacco led to Sam Ficken having to attempt a 55-yard field goal, which came up short. Moments later, after their defense came up with their second interception of Fitzpatrick, Emmanuel Ogbah's sack of Flacco - a 28-yard loss - took the Jets out of scoring range.|
| Miami received another stellar game from Fitzpatrick, who completed passes to seven different teammates during Sunday's win. Fitzpatrick also received a strong outing from running back Myles Gaskin, who amassed 126 total yards on 22 touches. Defensively, the Dolphins did not allow a third down conversion until there was just under 11 minutes left. The Dolphins applied constant pressure on Joe Flacco, who failed to complete 50% of his pass attempts. Miami gets extra credit for playing Tua Tagovailoa for the first time. Tagovailoa, who entered the game with 2:27 left, completed his first two passes as an NFL quarterback.|
Jets-Dolphins grades by Bryan DeArdo (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)
Tampa Bay 38-10 over Green Bay
|The Packers actually got off to a hot start in this game by jumping out to an early 10-0 lead, but then disaster struck and it struck in the form of two Aaron Rodgers interceptions. The Packers quarterbacks threw two interceptions in the second quarter, including one pick-six, and Green Bay's offense never seemed to bounce back after that. As a matter of fact, after the first quarter, the Packers never even reached Tampa territory for the rest of the game. It was an all-around embarrassing offensive performance for a team that went into Sunday with the NFL's highest-scoring offense. The Packers only totaled five yards during an ugly second quarter where they were outscored 28-0.|
|The Buccaneers did something on Sunday that no team had been able to do all season: They shut down the Packers high-powered offense. A big reason the Bucs were able to do that is because of the constant pressure they put on Aaron Rodgers. Tampa's defense sacked Rodgers a total of four times in the game with Lavonte David and Jason Pierre-Paul each racking up 1.5. The Buccaneers had Rodgers flustered for most of the game, which led to two interceptions, including a Jamel Dean pick-six in the second quarter. Offensively, the Buccaneers got nearly everyone involved as Tom Brady completed at least one pass to eight different receivers, including Rob Gronkowski, who caught his first TD pass of the season. The Bucs also had their ground game rolling and that was mainly thanks to Ronald Jones, who rushed for 113 yards and two touchdowns.|
San Francisco 24-16 over L.A. Rams
| Darrell Henderson looked explosive. Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp got open. Sean McVay dialed up a cool lateral that got a few yards. And just because they kept it close, nearly rallying at the end, it's hard to fail them here. But this was a falling-back-to-Earth moment for L.A. What in the world happened to Jared Goff? Everyone knows he can crumble under pressure, but it's not like San Francisco was feasting up front all night. His erratic play is reason No. 1 for their prime-time dud.|
| Hey, Jimmy Garoppolo is good again! In reality, he might just finally be healthy. Whatever the case, Kyle Shanahan had his way against the Rams defense to start Sunday night's contest, and the club's depth (JaMycal Hasty, for example) stepped up to finish the deal. Jared Goff reverting to some of his worst tendencies may have made their defense look better than it was, but still, they did more than enough. Talk about an encouraging rebound after the big loss to Miami.|
Rams-49ers grades by Cody Benjamin (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)
Kansas City 26-17 over Buffalo
|For once, Patrick Mahomes didn't have to carry the Chiefs offense. Although Mahomes had an impressive game, it was rookie running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire who carried Kansas City to the win on Monday. CEH gashed the Bills defense up for 161 yards on the ground, which was the highest rushing total by any Chiefs running back in three years. It was a dominant performance by a Chiefs offensive line that had been shuffled around due to multiple injuries. Overall, the Chiefs rushed for 245 yards as a team, which was the highest total ever under Andy Reid and the franchise's highest total since 2012. As for Mahomes, although his numbers won't blow you away, he did throw two TD passes to Travis Kelce, which proved to be the difference in the game.|
|For the first four weeks of the season, Josh Allen looked like an MVP candidate, but now he appears to be taking a step back, and a giant step back at that. On a rainy night in Buffalo, Allen struggled with his accuracy as he only completed 51.9% of his passes for just 122 yards. With no help from his ground game, it was up to Allen to make things work on offense and he just couldn't do it against a feisty Chiefs defense. Not only have the Bills now lost two straight games, but they were unable to crack the 20-point mark in either loss. One big concern for the Bills following this game should be the play of their defense. The Chiefs carried the ball in this game 46 times and averaged 5.3 yards per carry.|
Arizona 38-10 over Dallas
|The Cardinals get an 'A' because they went into Dallas and absolutely embarrassed the Cowboys. In what was easily their best all-around performance of the season, the Cards rolled up 38 points thanks to big plays from both their offense and their defense. The Cards defense forced four turnovers and then Arizona's offense capitalized on those turnovers by scoring 24 points off them. Defensively, Budda Baker (sack, interception, forced fumble) and Haason Reddick (two sacks) had their way with an overmatched Cowboys offensive line. Offensively, the Cardinals weren't perfect -- Kyler Murray only completed 9 of 24 passes -- but there some huge plays, including an 80-yard TD pass from Murray to Christian Kirk that basically iced the game before halftime. The catch was one of two touchdowns that Kirk scored in the game. Kenyan Drake also had a 69-yard TD run in game where he finished with 164 yards and two touchdowns.|
|Whatever rock bottom is in the NFL, the Cowboys definitely hit it on Monday night during this blowout loss to the Cardinals. This game was a disaster from start to finish for the Cowboys, especially Ezekiel Elliott who lost two costly fumbles in the second quarter that both would later turn into Cardinals touchdowns. By the time Elliott's fumbling spree was over, the Cowboys were trailing 21-0 and they had no chance of recovering with the way their offense was playing. In his first Cowboys start, Andy Dalton gave a below-average performance, but he also got no help. HIs offensive line couldn't protect him and his receivers couldn't hold on to the ball. Of the multiple drops in the game, the biggest one came from Michael Gallup, who dropped a surefire TD pass on a third-and-goal from the 16-yard line late in the first half. The only good news for the Cowboys is that they're still in first place due to the fact that they play in the worst division in football, so they still have plenty to play for going forward.|