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The Pittsburgh Steelers and Cleveland Browns know each other well. Not only are they division foes in the AFC North, but their meeting in the Wild Card round of the AFC Playoffs was their second straight game after their Week 17 game in Cleveland.
But this game wasn’t played in FirstEnergy Stadium, it was at Heinz Field. And Mason Rudolph wasn’t the quarterback of the Steelers, it was Ben Roethlisberger. One final meeting between these two hated rivals, their respective seasons on the line.
The Browns won the opening coin toss, and decided to put their defense on the field to square off with Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh offense to start the game. After the Ray-Ray McCloud return, the first snap from scrimmage sailed over Roethlisberger’s head and was recovered in the end zone for the Browns touchdown. In the blink of an eye it was 7-0 Cleveland.
The Steelers’ offense took to the field again, and put together a nice drive with James Conner doing all of the heavy lifting. However, at midfield, when Roethlisberger faced pressure up the middle, his pass intended for Conner and was intercepted at midfield. With 10:44 left in the first quarter, the Steelers had already committed two turnovers.
Baker Mayfield got onto the field for the first time, and it didn’t take him long to make a play. Facing a key 3rd and 4, Mayfield hit Jarvis Landry over the middle, and it was Landry making several Steelers miss en route to the end zone. Just like that, it was 14-0 Browns with 9:46 left in the opening quarter.
Desperate for something resembling an answer, the Steelers were stoned on 3rd and 1 and Jordan Berry had to punt the ball away to the Browns offense. After two huge Nick Chubb runs, it was Kareem Hunt who abused several defenders on his way to the end zone. With just 4:40 left in the first quarter, the Steelers were staring up at a 21-0 deficit.
It was more of the same for the Steelers’ offense on their next drive. After a holding penalty on Matt Feiler, Roethlisberger’s pass was high and tipped off Diontae Johnson’s hands and was intercepted. The Steelers’ third turnover in the first quarter.
The Browns wasted no time adding to their lead, running it right down the Steelers’ throats in the process. It was Hunt, again, who plunged into the end zone to make the score 28-0 with 1:56 left in the opening quarter.
The Steelers had the ball at the end of the first quarter.