This game meant nothing. Although it had a rather exciting finish, it is important to remember that this game meant nothing. With the number three seed in the AFC Playoffs locked up, Mike Tomlin rested some key players in Week 17 against the 1-14 Cleveland Browns. Even with Ben Roethlisberger, Le’Veon Bell, Antonio Brown, and Maurkice Pouncey all resting, the Steelers still found a way to beat the Browns 27-24 in overtime. Backups showed poise and patience in order to pull out the victory against the metaphorical punching bag of the AFC North.
Pittsburgh Steelers Week 17 Takeaways
It is no surprise that the Steelers have dominated the Browns recently. The win moved the Steelers to 17-3 against the Browns in the Mike Tomlin Era. The dominance of late was only capped off Sunday by a victory without the Steelers biggest stars. Cleveland’s inability to defeat the Steelers even without the “Killer B’s” is laughable to Pittsburgh fans across the nation. Unlike the shared hatred for the Bengals and Ravens, the feeling towards the Browns can only be described as comic. Thank you Cleveland, for humoring us twice a year.
Landry Jones Shines Late
Landry Jones started off horrifically. Until the Steelers last drive of the first half, the offense had only picked up two first downs. However, off of a fumble by Robert Griffin near mid field, Jones led the Steelers on a successful drive. Jones ultimately found DeAngelo Williams for an 11 yard touchdown near the end of the half. Jones would continue to heat up late, leading Pittsburgh to three touchdowns on their final five possessions.
With his contract expiring after this season, Jones may have made himself some extra money on Sunday. Although not outstanding, Jones proved he can get the job done. Jones finished with 277 yards, three touchdowns, and a QBR of 58.4 out of 100. Also, he did this without the Steelers most valuable offensive weapons. These numbers are rather impressive for a backup with Eli Rogers as his top receiver. If the Steelers choose not to resign Jones, they will at least be left with the knowledge that they were able to develop him as a quarterback and see improvement.
Williams Shakes Off Rust for Productive Day
Filling in for Le’Veon Bell, DeAngelo Williams continued to show Father Time has not yet caught up to him. Despite rushing for just five yards in the first half, Williams showed patience and finished the day with 67 yards and a touchdown on the ground. Also, Williams added 27 yards and a touchdown receiving out of the backfield. Williams showed that he still has something left in the tank with his performance. Even at 33 years old, Williams showed he can still be a diverse weapon out of the backfield if the Steelers need him to be down the road.
Defense Forces Key Turnovers
Although many stars on offense were given a day off, not many defensive stars were afforded the luxury. With the exception of James Harrison, the defense was at full strength against Cleveland. With this in mind, many thought they would shut down the Browns mediocre offense. This was not the case. The Browns picked up 437 total yards, and 27 first downs. This is an alarming amount of production considering the Browns finished the year 1-15.
However, the defense was able to come up with some timely turnovers to keep the Browns from scoring. Ryan Shazier intercepted Robert Griffin III with the Browns in the red zone and already up 14-0. Sean Davis recovered a fumbled snap later to set up the Steelers first scoring drive. Finally, Lawrence Timmons forced Isaiah Crowell to fumble at the Steelers’ five yard line late in the game. This allowed the Steelers to take the game into overtime and eventually win on a 26 yard touchdown pass the Cobi Hamilton.
Wild Card Round Awaits
With a rematch against the Dolphins looming, one cannot help but ponder the last meeting. Running back Jay Ajayi rushed for over 200 yards and helped the Dolphins to a 30-15 home win over the Steelers. If the Steelers want to have success in the Wild Card Round, they must stop Ajayi and force backup quarterback Matt Moore
to try and beat them. If they can defeat the Dolphins at home, another rematch awaits them in Kansas City against the Chiefs.