PITTSBURGH – Earlier than Pittsburgh Steelers defenseman Cam Heyward took on the Cleveland Browns, he stated the workforce did not particularly deal with quarterback Baker Mayfield’s injured ribs.
However he stated the plan was to impose “good punishment”.
And that is precisely what the Steelers did, sacking Mayfield 4 instances and intercepting him twice in a 38-7 win, giving Pittsburgh solely its second 5-Zero begin in franchise historical past and the primary since 1978. It was additionally the Steelers’ first win over a workforce with a win report that season.
“That was a school ball immediately,” stated coach Mike Tomlin. “They’ve risen and risen all alongside the road.”
It wasn’t all excellent news, nevertheless, as center-back and defensive participant Devin Bush sustained a knee damage within the second quarter. A supply informed ESPN’s Adam Schefter the damage is a cruciate ligament rupture and Bush will want end-of-season surgical procedure.
The choice for the primary spherical of 2019 performed each defensive stroke till damage. He was changed by Robert Spillane, who solely had one defensive snap previous to this season.
Even with out Bush, the Steelers dominated the Browns (4-2).
“As a D-Line and as a protection, you need to be certain that he thinks concerning the onslaught,” Heyward stated of Mayfield on Wednesday.
There’s little doubt Mayfield thought of it rigorously till he was drawn for Case Keenum late within the third quarter. Mayfield was pressured on 52% of his dropbacks, the best grade of his profession.
“Baker is a Heckuva, a man who needs to go on the market and battle for this workforce,” Heyward stated after the sport. “However as a D-line, as a protection, we need to affect the quarterback, punish the quarterback. Good punishment, I did not imply something to play unlawful soccer. It is my job to get after the quarterback.”
The Steelers had early success with their Blitz and acquired a sack and a Minkah Fitzpatrick pick-six for his or her first two. Fitzpatrick’s interception and scoring, his first of the season, gave the Steelers a 10-Zero lead simply minutes into the primary quarter.
Decide-six additionally completed third, an issue space for the Steelers’ protection in final week’s win towards the Eagles. This was not the case on Sunday because the Steelers allowed the Browns to transform only one of 12 third downs and none of their three fourth down makes an attempt.
“We had a greater plan,” stated Tomlin of the third success. “It begins with us as coaches after which the fellows did higher they usually did it. However we have been each JV, gamers and coaches final week and we acquired higher this week.”
Tomlin added Fitzpatrick’s interception, “It despatched them a message that the third descent immediately wasn’t going to be simple and we clearly wanted it.”
On the subsequent run, the Steelers pressured one other three, this time with a Bud Dupree sack of Mayfield in third and sixth place.
“Baker is an efficient quarterback,” stated Dupree. “On the finish of the day he is a kind of nice guys. Respect is required. We do not actually take into consideration hurting a participant. We simply exit and hit him a couple of instances. We all know his ribs harm.” … however we do not go in deliberately attempting to harm somebody. “
The Steelers have picked up three or extra sacks in six consecutive video games relationship again to the 2019 season finale towards the Ravens. The collection combines the longest in franchise historical past with the 1994, 2001 and 2004 seasons. The Steelers are additionally solely the second workforce in league historical past to affix the New York Giants in 1985, with a minimum of three sacks and one interception in every of their first 5 video games of the season.
Earlier than being changed by Keenum, Mayfield accomplished 10 of 18 makes an attempt for 119 yards with one landing and two interceptions for a passerby ranking of 54.9.
The Browns went into the sport with one of many league’s finest speeding assaults, nevertheless it was ended by the Steelers, who managed to offset the strain on Mayfield by slowing Kareem Hunt higher than every week in the past than they did earlier than the rewind from Miles Sanders stood and the eagles.
The hunt lasted a median of three.1 yards per carry and picked up 40 yards with 13 carry.
As a substitute, it was the Steelers who dominated the speeding recreation and took benefit of Cleveland’s sub-par collateral. James Conner coated 101 yards with 20 runs and scored the workforce’s first offensive landing 17-Zero within the second quarter. Receiver Chase Claypool and Benny Snell Jr. additionally scored fast touchdowns.
The Steelers ‘floor play ended at 129 yards over 37 runs and three touchdowns, whereas the protection saved the Browns’ assault at simply 75 yards over 22 runs.
“We did not should throw many within the second half when you may have that benefit,” stated Ben Roethlisberger. “It felt like an previous Invoice Cowher offense.”
After an anemic offensive efficiency with out Roethlisberger final season, the Steelers scored a minimum of 26 factors in every of their first 5 video games for the primary time in franchise historical past. Final season, the workforce scored 26 or extra factors in simply 4 video games.
With a lead of 38-7 due to Snell’s fourth-quarter landing, Roethlisberger went on the bench for the final eight minutes of the sport and allowed Mason Rudolph to play a drive.
“It is a good soccer workforce that is available in right here,” stated Roethlisberger. “Our first AFC North recreation. We wished to play good soccer. And we wished to do it in all phases and I do not know when the final time I acquired out of the sport eight minutes earlier than the tip was good feeling.”