Things went from bad to worse with another slow start for Steelers, and the deficit was to insurmountable.
The Pittsburgh Steelers 2020 season has come to an unexpected end with a 48-37 loss to the Cleveland Browns in the Wild Card Round of the playoffs. Instead of preparing for another week, the Steelers now have player exit interviews and a lot of offseason questions which will need answered. A season that started so promising instead leaves Steelers Nation watching the remainder of the NFL postseason without twirling their beloved Terrible Towels.
Now that the 2020 season has come to a close for the Steelers, here are some of the numbers involved in the Steelers 48-37 loss to the Browns.
It didn’t take long for things to fall apart for the Steelers as their first offensive play was a snap by Maurkice Pouncey over the head of Ben Roethlisberger which was recovered for a touchdown for the Browns. Just 0:06 into the game, the Steelers were already down 7-0.
Although starting the first play with a turnover is tough to overcome, adding four more throughout the game is what really did the Steelers in on Sunday night. After the bad snap, four Ben Roethlisberger interceptions led to 17 Cleveland points, not including the 7 scored by the defense on the first play. The -5 turnover matgin was the worst the Steelers have had since Week 1 of the 2018 season when they tied the Cleveland Browns.
By the time the Pittsburgh Steelers defense got on the field, they were already trailing 7-0 and the Browns had the ball in Steelers territory. Having to defend the short field with the drive starting on their 46 yard line, the defense did not put up much of a fight as the Browns moved 46 yards on 3 plays in under a minute to score their first offensive touchdown and take a 14-0 lead.
In all, the Steelers gave up 35 points in the first half. It was the 12th time in NFL history a team has given up 35 or more points in the first half of a postseason game with all teams going a combined 0-12. It was the fourth time in franchise history the Steelers gave up 35 or more points in the first half with the most recent being against the San Francisco 49ers in November of 1968 in a game where quarterback Dick Shiner threw 5 interceptions. The following season is when the Steelers hired head coach Chuck Knoll and drafted Joe Greene.
The Steelers ran the ball somewhat effectively in the first half against the Cleveland Browns gaining 47 yards on 15 attempts including the botched snap to start the game. Because of the way everything went down, the Steelers only had 1 rushing attempt in the second half of the game. So of the 39 offensive plays the Steelers ran in the second half, 38 were passes where they had 1 rushing attempt for 5 yards.
Where Steelers fan started to have some hope was in the third quarter when the defense held the Browns to only 31 yards and 2 first downs on three drives. Both first downs by the Browns were on their first possession of the third quarter with the next two being three and outs. As for the Steelers, they gained 161 yards in the third quarter and outscored the Browns by 13 points.
One of the more puzzling decisions which will be scrutinized for some time was the Steelers choosing to punt the ball on their own 46 yard line to start the fourth quarter when they were facing a 4th & 1 and down by two scores. With the offense rolling, Coach Tomlin decided to put his defense in better field position rather than attempt to gain one yard. Unfortunately, the Browns answered with an 80-yard touchdown drive after the punt sailed into the end zone.
A number Steelers fans did not want to see was Ben Roethlisberger throwing 68 passes in the game. Completing 47 of his attempts, Roethlisberger threw for 501 yards and 4 touchdowns to go along with his 4 interceptions. For his career, Roethlisberger still has not won a playoff game in which he has attempted more than 33 passes or thrown for more than 275 yards.
Ultimately, the downfall for the Steelers came in surrendering 48 points for the game. It was only the 10th game in franchise history in which the Steelers have surrendered 48 or more points, all of which were losses. It was the first game surrendering this many points since the 2013 season when the Steelers lost to the New England Patriots 55-33.
For the first time in three seasons, the Pittsburgh Steelers did not register a sack in the game. For those who are curious, their current 73-game streak is still intact as it only applies to the regular season. The last game the Steelers did not register a sack was there last playoff game against the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2017.
So there are some numbers to help evaluate the Steelers’ loss to the Browns on Sunday night. It was a total team effort in the Steelers defeat as the defense failed to get stops and the offense continued to turn the ball over. While there are 13 playoff teams who will end their season with the loss, losing the way the Steelers did at home to a depleted Cleveland Browns team who was missing a large portion of their coaching staff is it going to be one Steelers Nation takes a long time to get over…if ever.
So what numbers from Sunday night’s game stand out to you? Please leave your thoughts in the comments below.