Nothing defines the Pittsburgh Steelers season more than their 28-12 win over the Cleveland Browns in the 2015 regular season finale. This is the summary of the 16 chapter story of the 2015 Steelers.
Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger went 24/36 for 349 yards and 3 touchdowns while connecting with 6 different receivers. But, two interceptions. They were Roethlisberger’s 15th and 16th interceptions of the season, his 7th and 8th in 5 road games. This was his 3rd consecutive game of 2+ interceptions.For the game, Pittsburgh turned the ball over 3 times which has been a problem all season. The first 2 turnovers came in the first quarter. A fumble by Antonio Brown after gaining a first down, and It was both the good and the bad of this team in 60 minutes. One moment they look like the most unstoppable offense in the NFL, the next they look like the team that constantly shoots themselves in the foot.
Then there was another key injury, which has been the theme of this team before the season kicked off. DeAngelo Williams, possibly the biggest free agent signing of 2015, went out in the second quarter with an ankle injury. Williams has filled in more than admirably for Le’Veon Bell since leaving the November Cincinnati Bengal game with a season ending knee injury, and began the day 101 yards from 1,000. Very impressive for a backup.
Don’t think I forgot about the defense. Once again an inferior opponent, by the numbers, was able to move the ball at will up the field through the air. Cleveland gained 12 first downs via the pass, and Browns QB Austin Davis passed for 177 yards and rushed for 22 more. Cleveland was able to consistently get into the red zone.
There was also a dropped interception by Mike Mitchell in the first quarter that could’ve given the offense good field position. The Browns won the time of possession 33:57 minutes to 26:03 minutes, and ran 21 more plays than the Steelers (76-55), leaving that struggling defense on the field way too much. A playoff caliber team would score more than 12 points.
And then there’s the special teams. Chris Boswell missed a 48 yard field goal, his 3rd of the season. Missed field goals is a major reason why this team lost at least two games this season, which led to Boswell’s arrival in Pittsburgh to begin with. Thankfully for Steelers Nation he’s been tremendously better–he’s 29 of 32 (91%) for the season–than Josh Scobee, the guy he replaced.But there is the positive. The defense sacked Austin Davis 7 times for a loss of 63 yards. They forced 4 turnovers (2 fumbles & 2 interceptions) and held them to 0-5 in the red zone.
Antonio Brown finished the game with 13 receptions for 187 yards and 1 touchdown, his 9th 100+ receiving yards game this season which is the most in franchise history. AB also finishes the regular season as the first player in NFL History with 125+ receptions in consecutive seasons, and 265 receptions, the most ever in the NFL in a 2 year period. The offense converted 8 2-point conversion attempts, which is an NFL record. Another nugget, Roethlisberger is now 19-2 versus the Browns, 9-2 in Cleveland.
The most positive news of the day came from Orchard Park, New York. The Steelers will get to write another chapter next week in the AFC Wild Card round thanks to the Buffalo Bills knocking off the New York Jets 22-17.Pittsburgh is the 6th seed and will likely face the Cincinnati Bengals in the Queen City. Can the 2015 Steelers duplicate the run of the 2005 Super Bowl XL Champion Steelers? The paths are eerily similar.