The Pittsburgh Steelers entered hostile territory to take on the Cleveland Browns in what could have been called a must-win game. Pittsburgh was able to walk away with an ugly but important 15-10 win. Holding the Browns offense to 10 points was a huge accomplishment of the Steelers defense. There were also massive contributions from two key Steelers rookies that propelled the team across the finish line.
Steelers Rookies Lead the Way in Crucial Win Over Browns
Najee Harris the Bell Cow
Najee Harris might not have a long NFL career based on the high usage he gets in the Steelers offense. But he sure has been productive so far in his young career. Harris is a bell cow running back in every sense of the phrase. Against Cleveland, his number was called 32 times- 29 carries and three receptions. In the game, Harris was able to rack up 120 total yards of offense and one of the team’s two touchdowns on the day. His 91 yards on 29 carries won’t impress anyone in terms of yards per carry, but his ability to touch the ball so many times and remain effective is noteworthy.
Entering Week 8, Harris was second in the NFL for most receptions among running backs. Even with only three receptions, he was able to make an impact with a 20-yard reception to push the Steelers int0 Browns territory. Later that drive, the Steelers scored what ended up being the game-winning touchdown. As a runner, it’s clear that Harris is starting to be more productive as the Steelers run blocking improves. When he has room to run, he capitalizes. If Pittsburgh keeps winning games, Harris will be one of the biggest reasons.
Freiermuth Answers the Call
The second of standout Steelers rookies was tight end Pat Freiermuth, who has been producing on limited targets this year. He is a well-rounded tight end; Freiermuth is sure-handed, a great route runner, and a fine blocker in the running game, too. So far this year, Freiermuth has been sharing targets with Eric Ebron. Against the Browns, Ebron was out due to an injury. Freiermuth was the clear top option at tight end and he made the most of his increased opportunities.
On seven targets, Freiermuth was able to haul in four passes for 44 yards and a touchdown. It wasn’t just any touchdown, though. Freiermuth’s score came on 4th and goal when the Steelers were without a kicker, so they had to go for it. Ben Roethlisberger found Freiermuth in the back of the end zone. After fighting through traffic and bobbling the ball, Freiermuth was able to secure the ball and get both feet down. Pittsburgh went ahead 15-10, and no one scored the rest of the game. It was the biggest play of Freiermuth’s young career.
PAT FREIERMUTH TIP DRILL‼️
— PointsBet Sportsbook (@PointsBetUSA) October 31, 2021
The Steelers will host the Chicago Bears for Monday Night Football in Week 9. Against a mediocre-at-best team, the Steelers will have a good chance to push their winning streak to four. Some guys will need to get healthy, and the offense needs to be more consistent. But if these Steelers rookies can keep up their high level of play, Pittsburgh might be able to make a push for the playoffs.
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