Steelers vs. Browns score: Pittsburgh cruises past Cleveland, improves to 5-0 for first time since 1978

An unrelenting pass rush and a multi-faceted offense propelled the Steelers to a 38-7 win over the Browns on Sunday. With the win, Pittsburgh is 5-0 for the first time since 1978, when the Steelers won their third of four Super Bowls in a six-year span. The Browns, who brought a four-game winning streak to Pittsburgh, dropped to 4-2 and 1-2 against AFC North division foes. 

Two interceptions of Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield helped Pittsburgh jump out to a 24-0 lead. Safety Minkah Fitzpatrick's 33-yard pick-six of Mayfield made the score 10-0, while cornerback Cameron Sutton's interception of Mayfield on the Browns' ensuing drive set up James Conner's three-yard touchdown run. The Steelers further stretched their lead when Ben Roethlisberger hit James Washington for a 28-yard score. 

While he was able to get the Browns on the board before halftime on a 13-yard touchdown pass to Rashard Higgins, Mayfield was unable to avoid Pittsburgh's formidable pass rush, which sacked him four times (two by linebacker Bud Dupree) while hitting him on numerous other occasions. Mayfield, who was initially questionable to play with a chest injury, was pulled in favor of Case Keenum with a minute left in the third quarter. 

The Steelers' offense continued to roll in the second half, as rookie Chase Claypool and running back Benny Snell scored on short touchdown runs. Pittsburgh's rushing attack was led by Conner, who recorded his third 100-yard rushing performance against the Browns since 2018. Roethlisberger, who now has 11 touchdowns and just one interception through five games, improved to 24-2-1 against the Browns, who passed on him in the 2004 NFL Draft. 

Why the Steelers won

The Pittsburgh front seven was dominant in the victory. Stephon Tuitt and Cam Heyward reset the line of scrimmage all day as T.J. Watt, Bud Dupree supplied pressure from the edge. The result was seven quarterback hits and four sacks on opposing quarterbacks. It was truthfully detrimental to Baker Mayfield's health -- he had suffered a rib injury against Indianapolis -- to keep him in the game. Kevin Stefanski eventually pulled him in favor of a healthy Case Keenum. The Steelers secondary also looked much improved. As Tony Romo noted on the CBS broadcast, Pittsburgh had altered their third down defensive strategy to show a Cover 2 over the top with some man coverage concepts underneath. 

On 11 possessions, Cleveland had six punts, three turnovers on downs and two interceptions, including one returned for a touchdown. They were a combined 1-of-15 on third and fourth down plays. 

Why the Browns lost 

Baker Mayfield and the offensive line played horrible. The Browns' rushing attack has been praised all season but it ran into a brick wall in Week 6 against Pittsburgh. Every single starter along the offensive line had their worst game to date. The team wants to establish the run, allow their defense to create turnovers and grind out wins. When a run-based offense falls behind early, it becomes very difficult for them to keep pace. The same narrative played out in Week 1 against Baltimore. 

Cleveland managed just 75 yards on 22 carries and a chunk of that was accomplished in the fourth quarter with game already in hand. The play-calling, which had been fantastic all season, was disappointing in the effort.

Play of the game

On Cleveland's first offensive possession, Mayfield dropped back to pass and drove a ball into coverage. It was clear that he had a preconceived idea of where he wanted to go on the play. The issue is that Steelers safety Minkah Fitzpatrick read it the entire way, stepped in front of the throw and returned it for a touchdown. 

By stretching the lead to 10-0, it began to force Cleveland to throw the ball more and abandon their game plan. Considering the Browns were only able to score seven points, it literally put the game out of reach in the first quarter. 

What's next

Cleveland will travel to Cincinnati next week. After losing in Week 1 to Baltimore, the Browns rattled off four consecutive wins. Outside of rematches with Baltimore and Pittsburgh later this season, Cleveland has a pretty favorable schedule. If they do not allow today's effort to carry over into the coming weeks, they should still have a strong chance to push for the playoffs. 

Pittsburgh will play every week for the rest of the regular season as a result of their game against Tennessee being postponed. They play the Titans and Ravens in the next two weeks. Those two teams had a combined eight wins coming into Week 6. 

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PIT -4, O/U 51

Season Leaders

passing
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B. Mayfield 729 YD, 7 TDS, 2 INTS
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B. Mayfield 729 YD, 7 TDS, 2 INTS
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B. Roethlisberger 777 YD, 7 TDS, 1 INT
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B. Roethlisberger 777 YD, 7 TDS, 1 INT
rushing
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N. Chubb 57 ATT, 335 YD, 4 TDS
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N. Chubb 57 ATT, 335 YD, 4 TDS
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J. Conner 40 ATT, 224 YD, 2 TDS
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J. Conner 40 ATT, 224 YD, 2 TDS
receiving
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O. Beckham 16 REC, 236 YD, 3 TDS
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O. Beckham 16 REC, 236 YD, 3 TDS
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J. Smith-Schuster 17 REC, 160 YD, 3 TDS
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J. Smith-Schuster 17 REC, 160 YD, 3 TDS
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That's going to do it for our live coverage of Steelers-Browns. The Browns clearly missed not having Nick Chubb, who should be back in 1-2 weeks. Mayfield, Beckham and Landry were also injured. The Steelers should be happy to leave the game with a 5-0 record, but today's injuries to Devin Bush and Mike Hilton will be things to monitor this week. Thanks again for joining us! Be sure to stay with CBS Sports.com for all of your NFL news, notes and highlights.

October 18, 2020, 8:04 PM

Steelers having their way running the ball despite not having David DeCastro in the game. The Steelers are over 130 rushing yards as a team, with James Conner recording his third 100-yard game against the Browns since 2018. Conversely, the Browns have rushed for just 74 yards on 21 carries. Have to think this game would have been closer if Nick Chubb was active.

October 18, 2020, 7:50 PM
@steelers via Twitter
October 18, 2020, 7:48 PM
@TheOBR via Twitter
October 18, 2020, 7:48 PM
@steelers via Twitter
October 18, 2020, 7:39 PM
@TheOBR via Twitter
October 18, 2020, 7:39 PM
@TheOBR via Twitter
October 18, 2020, 7:29 PM

Cleveland is being outscored 37-48 in the fourth quarter through five games. Of course, half of the opponent's output came in a game against Dallas where the Browns carried a 27-point lead into the final quarter. Pittsburgh is outscoring opponents 34-20 in the fourth quarter.

October 18, 2020, 7:28 PM
@TheOBR via Twitter
October 18, 2020, 7:23 PM

Cleveland has apparently determined that Baker Mayfield's ribs have had enough for one day. Case Keenum is in at quarterback.

October 18, 2020, 7:23 PM
@Browns via Twitter
October 18, 2020, 7:22 PM

Chase Claypool's last two games: 10 catches (on 13 targets), 161 yards, three touchdowns; four carries, nine yards, two touchdowns.

October 18, 2020, 7:21 PM
@TheOBR via Twitter
October 18, 2020, 7:19 PM

Steelers fans will love that QB sneak by Roethlisberger for the first down. Steelers have been criticized for years for not running a QB sneak with Ben, but they do it there on fourth and inches inside the five-yard-line. Claypool scores on the next play after a nice block on the outside by Jaylen Samuels, as Steelers extend their lead to 31-7.

October 18, 2020, 7:18 PM
@steelers via Twitter
October 18, 2020, 7:13 PM
@TheOBR via Twitter
October 18, 2020, 7:12 PM

Steelers have suffered their second significant injury today, as cornerback Mike Hilton has appeared to have suffered a left shoulder injury. His injury follows Devin Bush leaving the game for good in the second quarter with a knee injury.

October 18, 2020, 7:11 PM
@TheOBR via Twitter
October 18, 2020, 7:10 PM
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