Steelers vs. Browns score: Pittsburgh gets revenge as Duck Hodges advances team's playoff hopes

The Steelers remain on the inside track in the AFC playoff picture

Duck Mania is alive and well in Pittsburgh. 

Led by undrafted rookie quarterback Devlin "Duck" Hodges, the Steelers overcame a 10-0 deficit to defeat the Browns 20-13 Sunday at Heinz Field. With the win, the Steelers -- 7-5 after a 1-4 start -- remain on the inside track in the AFC playoff picture. Conversely, the Browns, who entered Sunday's game with a three-game winning streak, are 5-7 and will need to win out to have any remote chance at making the playoffs. 

Two weeks after losing to the Browns in Cleveland, the Steelers evened the season series by holding the Browns to 279 total yards. On offense, Pittsburgh gained 323 yards despite running just four plays from scrimmage during the first quarter. After the Browns won both battles at the line of scrimmage in the first half, the Steelers flipped the script in the second half, as Pittsburgh received stellar blocking from their offensive line and equally impressive play from their front seven during the game's final 30 minutes. 

Here's a look at how the Steelers were able to pull off the come-from-behind victory. 

Why the Steelers won 

The Steelers' defense continues to be lights out. For a second time in three weeks, the Steelers' defense held Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield to under 200 passing yards. Pittsburgh's defense also put consistent pressure on Mayfield, with T.J. Watt, Bud Dupree, Cam Sutton, Bud Dupree and Javon Hargrave combining to sack Mayfield five times. Pittsburgh's defense also forced two critical turnovers that included former Brown Joe Haden's game-sealing interception with just over a minute left. 

Pittsburgh's offense was led by receiver James Washington, whose receptions of 31, 30 and 44 yards helped the offense overcome their slow start. His first big catch set up Chris Boswell's first of two field goals, while his second big play tied the score before halftime. His third deep catch from Hodges set up rookie running back Benny Snell's one-yard touchdown run that gave Pittsburgh its first lead midway through the third quarter. 

Hodges, who is now 2-0 as a starter, out-played Mayfield, completing 66.7 percent of his passes for 212 yards despite playing without receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster and James Conner. He received solid protection from Pittsburgh's offensive line that also paved the way for Snell and a rushing attack that gained 132 yards on 24 carries. 

Why the Browns lost 

A lack of third-down success (Cleveland was 4-of-12 on third down), pre-snap penalties and two costly turnovers were among the biggest reasons why the Browns were unable to complete a season sweep of the Steelers for the first time since 1988. The Browns' futility on Sunday can be best summarized by what happened after cornerback Terrance Mitchell's interception gave the Browns the ball inside Steelers territory with a chance to tie the score with 5:35 left. Instead of tying the score, the Browns came up empty when Hargrave was able to sack Mayfield on third down while knocking Cleveland out of field goal range. 

Questionable play-calling was also a reason why the Browns failed to get their first win in Pittsburgh since 2003. While the Browns had success on the ground and on intermediate post patterns (especially early in the game), they ran the ball just 24 times against a Pittsburgh run defense that allowed 104 rushing yards. Cleveland also ran too many "gimmick" plays that often resulted in negative plays. 

Cleveland's defense also played a major role in the loss. While they were unable to provide consistent pressure on Hodges, the Browns also struggled against Pittsburgh's 25th ranked rushing attack, allowing the Steelers to rush for 124 yards and a score on 32 carries. 

Turning point

The Steelers' offense was literally stuck in the mud before Washington's 31-yard catch set up Boswell's second-quarter field goal. His remarkable touchdown reception -- that included pass interference from the Browns' secondary -- tied the score at halftime while shifting the game's momentum. 

Play of the game

While Washington's touchdown reception was impressive, his 44-yard catch at the start of the fourth quarter set up Snell's go-ahead touchdown. Washington, who caught just 16 passes during a disappointing rookie season, has caught touchdowns in three of Pittsburgh's last four games while emerging as the Steelers' best offensive player with Conner and Smith-Schuster out of the lineup. 

Also in the running for the game's best play was Dupree's third-quarter sack and forced fumble of Mayfield that set up Boswell's second field goal that stretched Pittsburgh's lead to ten points. Dupree, who is set to be a free agent this offseason, has a career-high 8.5 sacks this season after recording 1.5 sacks on Sunday. 

Quotable

"We're looking to strike a blow for team in these circumstances, to stand up for the game of football and team and prove that guys can make plays when given an opportunity. One man's misfortune is another man's opportunity, the standard is the standard, they made all these cliches true." -- Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin, whose offense was playing without Smith-Schuster, James Conner and center Maurkice Pouncey

Quotable II 

"He didn't kill us." -- Tomlin said with a laugh when asked about the play of Hodges. Tomlin made headlines when he said that earlier this week when asked about his change at the quarterback position. 

What's next 

The Steelers will head to Arizona next Sunday to take on a Cardinals team that is playing better than their 3-7-1 record indicates. The Cardinals -- led by rookie quarterback Kyler Murray -- nearly led the Cardinals to two victories over the 49ers earlier this season. The Browns will now prepare to host the Bengals, who upset the Jets on Sunday to win their first game of the season. 

Re-live the action and highlights in our live blog below.

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SUN 1:00 P
PIT +1.5, o40
PIT 1.5, O/U 40

Season Leaders

passing
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B. Mayfield 3109 YD, 15 TDS, 16 INTS
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B. Mayfield 3109 YD, 15 TDS, 16 INTS
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M. Rudolph 1636 YD, 12 TDS, 9 INTS
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M. Rudolph 1636 YD, 12 TDS, 9 INTS
rushing
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N. Chubb 253 ATT, 1281 YD, 7 TDS
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N. Chubb 253 ATT, 1281 YD, 7 TDS
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J. Conner 102 ATT, 390 YD, 4 TDS
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J. Conner 102 ATT, 390 YD, 4 TDS
receiving
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J. Landry 69 REC, 995 YD, 5 TDS
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J. Landry 69 REC, 995 YD, 5 TDS
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J. Washington 34 REC, 611 YD, 3 TDS
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J. Washington 34 REC, 611 YD, 3 TDS
Live updates
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That's going to do it for our live coverage of Steelers-Browns. Thank you for enjoying the action with us! Be sure to check out CBSSports.com for complete coverage of this and every other NFL Week 13 game.

December 1, 2019, 9:14 PM

Steelers now 7-5 and remain in the inside track in the AFC playoff picture. Browns 5-7 and will have to win out to have any chance at making the playoffs.

December 1, 2019, 9:14 PM
@TheOBR via Twitter
December 1, 2019, 9:12 PM
@steelers via Twitter
December 1, 2019, 9:12 PM
@Browns via Twitter
December 1, 2019, 9:11 PM
@steelers via Twitter
December 1, 2019, 9:11 PM

Joe Haden -- former Brown -- clinches the game.

December 1, 2019, 9:10 PM
@steelers via Twitter
December 1, 2019, 9:10 PM

Minkah upset that he didn't pick that pass off. Dupree crushed Mayfield and is going to get flagged for roughing the passer.

December 1, 2019, 9:08 PM
@steelers via Twitter
December 1, 2019, 9:07 PM

James Washington was wide open but Duck missed him. Making things worse, Steelers don't stop the clock; Hodges should have taken a sack there. In any event, the Steelers kick it in the end zone.

December 1, 2019, 9:07 PM
@TheOBR via Twitter
December 1, 2019, 9:07 PM
@TheOBR via Twitter
December 1, 2019, 9:05 PM
@TheOBR via Twitter
December 1, 2019, 9:04 PM

Steelers offense doing a superb here managing the end of this game. Hodges making all the necessary throws, while the no-nonsense running of Snell helping kill the clock. Browns out of timeouts, so if the Steelers pick up another first down, the game is likely over.

December 1, 2019, 9:03 PM
@TheOBR via Twitter
December 1, 2019, 9:02 PM
@steelers via Twitter
December 1, 2019, 9:01 PM
@steelers via Twitter
December 1, 2019, 8:56 PM

That's a big call. Instead of a touchback, Steelers have ball inside their own one. Instant replay this season has been bad, to say the least. Snell gets a big first down as Steelers now have some breathing room. Great blocks by DeCastro and Feiler.

December 1, 2019, 8:54 PM
@TheOBR via Twitter
December 1, 2019, 8:52 PM
@steelers via Twitter
December 1, 2019, 8:52 PM

Tomlin challenges whether or not the Browns were able to down the ball inside the one. This is taking entirely too long.

December 1, 2019, 8:50 PM

https://twitter.com/AngelaTegn...

December 1, 2019, 8:47 PM

Hargrave with another big third down sack, as Browns no longer in FG range. Browns run a fake field goal and down it inside the Steelers' 5. Smart play but huge stand by Steelers' defense. Mayfield has been sacked five times in this game.

December 1, 2019, 8:46 PM
@TheOBR via Twitter
December 1, 2019, 8:46 PM
@TheOBR via Twitter
December 1, 2019, 8:45 PM
@steelers via Twitter
December 1, 2019, 8:45 PM
@Browns via Twitter
December 1, 2019, 8:44 PM

Terrible throw by Duck and equally bad play by Johnson for not running the play out. Terrance Mitchell comes out with big interception. Bad miscommunication by two rookies.

December 1, 2019, 8:43 PM
@TheOBR via Twitter
December 1, 2019, 8:43 PM
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