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Other Week 17 Game Recaps

Week 17 Game Recap: Pittsburgh Steelers 28, Cleveland Browns 12

What you need to know

Pittsburgh Steelers

The Steelers punched their ticket to the playoffs with a 28-12 victory over the Cleveland Browns. DeAngelo Williams left the game during the 2nd quarter with an ankle injury. Antonio Brown had another dominant performance vs. the Browns. Ben Roethlisberger was inconsistent throwing some spectacular passes along with making some questionable decisions.

Cleveland Browns

The Browns finished their disappointing season by losing to Pittsburgh, allowing their rivals to secure a playoff berth while Cleveland goes back to the drawing board yet again. A few hours after the game ended, both general manager Ray Farmer and head coach Mike Pettine were fired by owner Jimmy Haslam. Pittsburgh's offense wasn't especially sharp in this one, but the Browns' offense led by Austin Davis was just not able to capitalize on mistakes.

Pittsburgh Steelers

QB Ben Roethlisberger, 56 offensive snaps, Pass: 24 - 36 - 349 - 3 TD / 2 INT, Rush: 2 - -2 - 0
Ben Roethlisberger had 24 completions on 36 attempts for 349 yards with 3 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. Early 1st quarter, Roethlisberger led a 8 play-70 yard touchdown drive. On the drive, Roethlisberger completed passes of 27, 6, and 26 yards to Antonio Brown, 7 and 6 yards to DeAngelo Williams and 2 yards to Heath Miller. On the touchdown pass, Roethlisberger moved to his right in the pocket to buy time for Miller who made the reception in the back-middle of the end zone. Late 1st quarter, Roethlisberger threw his 1st interception on a pass intended for Martavis Bryant. On the play, Cleveland defensive back, Jordan Poyer, jumped the curl-route to make the interception. Late 1st quarter, the Steelers started a 9 play-50 yard drive which ended with a missed field goal. On the drive, Roethlisberger completed passes of 20, 19, and 1 yards to Brown. Late 2nd quarter, Roethlisberger led a 6 play-80 yard touchdown drive. On the drive, Roethlisberger completed passes of 40 yards to Wheaton, 5 yards to Miller, and 18 and 17 to Brown. Roethlisberger capped off the drive with a 17 yard touchdown pass to Brown. On the play, Roethlisberger made a good pass in-between 2 Cleveland defenders where only Brown could make the reception. At halftime, Roethlisberger had 227 passing yards with 2 touchdowns and 1 interception. Early 3rd quarter, Roethlisberger threw his 2nd interception on a pass intended for Brown. On the play, the pass was under-thrown by Roethlisberger and the route was jumped by Cleveland defender, Craig Robertson. During the next series on 3rd and 2, Roethlisberger completed a 66 yard pass to Darrius Heyward-Bey. On the play, Roethlisberger hit Heyward-Bey running in stride down the middle of the field. Early 4th quarter after a Browns fumble, Roethlisberger threw an 8 yard touchdown pass to Markus Wheaton. On the play, Roethlisberger rolled out to his left and found Wheaton running across the end zone. Roethlisberger converted the 2 point attempt with a pass to Fitzgerald Toussaint.

RB Fitzgerald Toussaint, 33 offensive snaps, Rush: 12 - 24 - 0
Fitzgerald Toussaint had 12 rushes for 24 yards. Toussaint entered the game mid 2nd quarter after an injury to DeAngelo Williams. As soon as he entered the game, he received 2 rushing attempts on runs up the middle for gains of 2 and 5 yards. Early 4th quarter, Toussaint converted a 2 point attempt. On the play, Toussaint ran a slant for the reception to complete the 2 point conversion. As the Steelers were running out the clock, Toussaint received some rushing attempts for minimal yardage.

RB DeAngelo Williams, 21 offensive snaps, Rush: 5 - 8 - 0, Rec: 2 - 13 - 0 (2 targets)
DeAngelo Williams left the game with an ankle injury early in the 2nd quarter. As Williams was being tackled, his right ankle was caught under the defender. At the time of the injury, Williams could not put pressure on the ankle. Williams later returned to the sideline but did not return to the game. Prior to the injury, Williams had 5 rushes for 8 yards with 2 receptions for 13 yards. Early 1st quarter, Williams caught a screen pass for a 7 yard reception. A few plays later, Williams caught another screen pass for a 6 yard reception before being tackled on the 2 yard line.

WR Antonio Brown, 54 offensive snaps, Rec: 13 - 187 - 1 (17 targets)
Antonio Brown led all receivers with 13 receptions for 187 yards and 1 touchdown. Early 1st quarter on 3rd and 2, Brown ran an out-route for a 3 yard reception. A couple of plays later, Brown ran a curl-route for a 13 yard reception. On the play, Brown was stripped and fumbled the ball as he was being tackled resulting in a turnover. During the next series, Brown ran a comeback-route for a 27 yard reception. On the play, Brown got past the defensive back and ran down the left sideline. A couple of plays later, Brown ran a curl-route for a 6 yard reception. A couple of plays later, Brown ran a slant for a 26 yard reception. On the play, Brown was shoestring tackled from behind or the play would have resulted in a touchdown. Early 2nd quarter, Brown ran an out-route for a 20 yard reception. On the next play, Brown ran a comeback-route for a 19 yard reception. Late 2nd quarter, Brown ran a slant for a 18 yard reception. A couple of plays later, Brown ran a vertical-route for a 17 yard touchdown reception. On the play, Brown ran in-between 2 Cleveland defenders as he turned back for the ball after crossing into the end zone. Brown had 10 receptions in the first half. Early 4th quarter, Brown ran a crossing-route for a 16 yard reception. Mid 4th quarter, Brown ran a comeback-route for a 17 yard reception. A couple of plays later, Brown caught a shovel pass for a 4 yard gain before being tackled on the Browns 3 yard line.

WR Markus Wheaton, 41 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 57 - 1 (5 targets)
Markus Wheaton made an impact with 3 receptions for 57 yards and 1 touchdown. Late 1st quarter, Wheaton ran an out-route for a 9 yard reception. Late 2nd quarter, Wheaton ran a vertical-route for a 40 yard reception. Early 4th quarter, Wheaton caught an 8 yard touchdown reception. On the play, Wheaton ran a crossing route and made a diving reception on the left side of the end zone.

WR Darrius Heyward-Bey, 30 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 74 - 0 (5 targets)
Darrius Heyward-Bey made an impact with 2 receptions for 74 yards. Early 1st quarter, Heyward-Bey ran an out-route for an 8 yard reception. Early 3rd quarter on a 3rd and 2, Heyward-Bey ran a vertical route for a 66 yard reception. On the play, Heyward-Bey got behind the defender and was tackled from behind.

WR Martavis Bryant, 12 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 0 - 0 (3 targets)
Martavis Bryant had an off-game with 1 reception for 0 yards. Bryant entered the game questionable to play due to illness. Early 1st quarter, Bryant caught a screen pass but could not get past the line of scrimmage.

TE Heath Miller, 54 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 18 - 1 (4 targets)
Heath Miller had 3 receptions for 18 yards and 1 touchdown. Mid 1st quarter, Miller caught a 2 yard touchdown reception. On the play, Miller ran a crossing route in the back-middle of the end zone before making the reception in traffic. Late 2nd quarter, Miller ran a curl-route for a 5 yard reception. Early 4th quarter, Miller ran a curl-route for a 11 yard reception.

Cleveland Browns

QB Austin Davis, 83 offensive snaps, Pass: 24 - 46 - 240 - 0 TD / 2 INT, Rush: 3 - 22 - 0
Davis did not play well, showing why he is nothing more than a backup quarterback. He completed just 24-of-46 passes and added two interceptions and one lost fumble. He also took seven sacks. Many of the sacks came as a result of Davis holding onto the ball too long as his pocket awareness was not good. He also struggled against pressure, which the Steelers brought often. His stat line could have looked much worse, but the Steelers defense helped him out by dropping a few balls that should have been interceptions. Davis' second pass of the game was right in Mike Mitchell's hands, but he did not hold onto the interception. Davis took a deep shot to Benjamin in the first quarter which was incomplete, but the play resulted in an illegal contact penalty. He missed an opportunity to keep a drive going in the second quarter by throwing high and behind Darius Jennings on what should have been a first down reception. Jennings was able to get his hand on the ball, which was almost intercepted by Will Allen after it was tipped by Jennings. At the end of the first half, Davis had three chances to throw a touchdown, having a pass to Terrelle Pryor broken up at Pittsburgh's two yard line and then overthrowing Travis Benjamin on the right side on the ensuing play. On his third attempt he threw a good pass which went right through Darius Jennings' hands. Later, in the third quarter, Davis threw a back-breaking interception directly into James Harrisons' hands in Pittsburgh's end zone. On the team's second-to-last drive he threw his second interception of the game on a bad pass. He had targeted Benjamin, but did not throw the ball hard enough and William Gay was able to jump in front of it easily. He was almost intercepted two plays earlier, but a diving Sean Spence was unable to hold onto the ball.

RB Isaiah Crowell, 45 offensive snaps, Rush: 15 - 53 - 0
Crowell saw a decent workload in this game, but wasn't able to do much outside of a few good runs. He did seem to struggle with his footing throughout the game, as he slipped at the end of several carries. One of his best runs came on his second carry where he was able to turn the corner on the right and pick up 15 yards, putting the Browns in the red zone. On the next play he saw a carry from Pittsburgh's nine yard line but ran East-West instead of attacking the line of scrimmage, losing two yards on the play. In the second half Crowell had a carry from Pittsburgh's 10 and it looked like he had a shot at scoring, but Arthur Moats was able to make an ankle tackle at the five yard line.

RB Duke Johnson, 39 offensive snaps, Rush: 4 - 11 - 0, Rec: 4 - 34 - 0 (6 targets)
Johnson ran hard and fought for extra yardage all game, breaking several tackles along the way. The rookie showed a lot of heart. Like usual, his biggest contributions came through the air as he did little on the ground. Johnson's first catch came in the second quarter on a swing pass. The sure-handed receiving back did have a rare drop on a red zone target at the end of the first half. He put on a tackle-breaking clinic in the middle of the game. He broke at least two tackles on a 20-yard catch at the end of the second quarter, stiff-arming his way to midfield and followed that up in the third quarter by breaking a two more tackles for a first down pickup on a third-and-two.

WR Darius Jennings, 78 offensive snaps, Rec: 6 - 45 - 0 (10 targets)
Jennings did not have a great game, dropping several passes and fumbling while fighting for extra yardage. One of his drops would have been a touchdown. His first catch came on a short swing pass. He made a big catch for a first down toward the end of the half as he dove toward the marker. He should have caught a touchdown at the end of the first half, but he allowed a catchable pass to go right through his hands in the end zone. His fumble came in the second half after making a catch, but the Browns were able to recover the ball. The rookie was productive based solely on volume in this game.

WR Travis Benjamin, 81 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 0 - 0, Rec: 5 - 53 - 0 (11 targets)
Benjamin saw a few deep targets against Pittsburgh, but did all of his damage on short and intermediate routes. His first catch came on a short swing pass and his second one came on a short slant. One of the deep targets that Benjamin saw came in the first quarter, but his defender was penalized for illegal contact. Later in the quarter he saw a red zone target but he dropped the pass. The play would have put the Browns around the five yard line. Toward the end of the first half, he saw a second red zone target but the ball was tipped at the line of scrimmage. He was open on a slant route, but a waiting safety would have prevented him from crossing the goal line. At the end of the second quarter, he saw an end zone target but the pass was thrown poorly and was uncatchable. Benjamin did see another deep pass in the fourth quarter which was overthrown.

WR Terrelle Pryor, 60 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 42 - 0 (6 targets)
Pryor, although he only made one catch, saw several looks in the red zone, but he and Davis were unable to connect. Pryor made his first catch as an NFL receiver, hauling in a 42-yard strike from Davis. Pryor was well-covered and showed great body control to leap up and secure a tough catch. He came back and saw a red zone target on the next play, but the pass was broken up by Antwon Blake. Later in the third quarter, he saw a deep shot down the left sideline. Pryor came up looking for pass interference on the play, but nothing was called.

WR Taylor Gabriel, 6 offensive snaps
Gabriel did not record a stat in the game and departed early after getting poked in the eye. He did not return to action.

TE Gary Barnidge, 79 offensive snaps, Rec: 8 - 66 - 0 (13 targets)
Barnidge was Cleveland's leading receiver, acting as a safety valve for Austin Davis on short-to-intermediate throws. He was sure-handed and fought for extra yardage, like usual. His first catch came on a fourth down in the middle of the field, short of a first down. He saw an end zone target while double covered in third quarter, but the ball was thrown too high.