Pittsburgh wins 26-14, in what is likely Ben Roethlisburger's last game at Heinz Field
After being eliminated from the playoffs last week, the Cleveland Browns fell short to the Pittsburgh Steelers, in what was likely Ben Roethlisberger’s last game in Pittsburgh. Earlier today, the Pittsburgh Steelers announced the retirement of their longtime quarterback. Roethlisburger played 248 games for Pittsburgh, across 18 seasons. During his time, he won the third most games in a single city in history, won two Super Bowls (only the twelfth quarterback to do so), and registered a career that should place him in the Hall of Fame. Roethlisburger holds records across the board in PIttsburgh, such as passing yards, touchdowns, passing rating, and completion percentage. Considering greats like Terry Bradshaw have graced Heinz Field, Roethlishberger’s career has been nothing short of phenomenal.
While there was a ceremonious feel to the game, with people honoring the legendary Miami Redhawk, the Steelers still needed a win to maintain their playoff hopes. With Cincinnati clinching the division, Pittsburgh still needs to win out in order to secure their own Wild Card birth. Mike Tomlin had his guys ready, despite the legendary curtain call going on today.
Both teams started out slow in the first half, with ten drives failing to cash in any points. Pittsburgh was able to turn the tide in their favor in the second quarter, behind Ben’s favorite target, Dionte Johnson. Big Ben hit Johnson on a short five yard pass, to open the game up for them before the third quarter. After that initial lead, Pittsburgh never looked back.
Aside from Johnson and Ben, rookie running back Najee Harrris stole the show on offense. Throughout the entire game, Najee ran like a demon possessed. On 28 carries, Harris galloped for 188 yards and a late touchdown. Pittsburgh was able to make enough plays on both sides of the ball, to control their own destiny tonight.
On top of Najee’s big performance, the Steeler’s maintained their dominance on the defensive side of the ball. After breaking the single-season sack franchise mark with 17.5 last week, T.J. Watt added in four more sacks of his own tonight. As a team, Pittsburgh had nine sacks compared to Cleveland’s two. Their pressure on both lines discombobulated the mediocre Cleveland team and it stagnated Cleveland’s offense the entire night. Cleveland didn’t lead all game and just didn’t come out with the firepower necessary to win. Nick Chubb played well, with a few highlights of his own, but wasn’t enough.
What sealed the win for Ben, was a late Najee Harris touchdown. In response to Baker’s one-yard drop-off to Harrison Bryant (which made it a five point game), Najee delivered a 37-yard score to seal the game, (putting Pittsburgh up 8). On top of his huge day, Najee had a highlight-worthy stiff arm, on his way to breaking the Steelers rookie rushing record. On all sides of the ball, Pittsburgh simply outperformed Cleveland.
While Ben’s career at Heinz Field may be over, Pittsburgh still needs to beat their second-straight division rival, Baltimore, to clinch a playoff spot. Roethlisburger ends his career with a perfect record at home against the Cleveland Browns. Pittsburgh ended up winning the game 26-14, and head to Baltimore winning 3 of their last five. One of those wins include a week 13 victory, against Baltimore.