Jan 3, 2022; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers running back Najee Harris (22) runs the ball against the Cleveland Browns during the second quarter at Heinz Field. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

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Steelers still in playoff hunt after defeating Browns

Ben Roethlisberger passed for a touchdown in what was likely his final home game in Pittsburgh and the Steelers kept their playoff hopes alive with a 26-14 victory over the visiting Cleveland Browns on Monday night.

T.J. Watt recorded a career-high four of his team’s nine sacks and took over the NFL lead with 21.5 as Pittsburgh (8-7-1) remained in the AFC wild-card mix. Watt is one sack off the official all-time record set by Michael Strahan in 2001.

The Steelers are a half-game behind the Indianapolis Colts, Las Vegas Raiders and Los Angeles Chargers entering the final week of the regular season. The Raiders and Chargers face one another.

Najee Harris rushed for a career-best 188 yards on 28 carries and also broke the franchise’s single-season rookie rushing record with 1,172 yards. He surpassed Hall of Famer Franco Harris, who had 1,055 yards in 1972 when the regular season was 14 games long.

Baker Mayfield completed 16 of 38 passes for 185 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions for the Browns (7-9), who were eliminated from playoff contention on Sunday. David Njoku and Harrison Bryant caught touchdown passes.

Roethlisberger wasn’t sharp and had a season-low 123 yards on 24-of-46 passing while being intercepted once.

Chris Boswell connected on four field goals and Alex Highsmith added two sacks as the Pittsburgh defense limited the Browns to 232 yards. The Steelers gained 299.

Cleveland finally got on the board when Mayfield hit Njoku on a 3-yard touchdown pass with 56 seconds left in the third quarter to cut Pittsburgh’s lead to 13-7.

But Boswell sent a 50-yard field goal through the uprights with 9:46 left in the game and added a 48-yarder with 5:48 to play to give the Steelers a 19-7 advantage.

The Browns pulled within 19-14 with 1:10 left when Mayfield capped a 17-play, 76-yard drive with a 1-yard scoring pass to Bryant. Minkah Fitzpatrick of the Steelers recovered the ensuing onside kick and Harris put the game away with a 37-yard touchdown run with 51 seconds remaining.

Roethlisberger threw his touchdown pass and the Pittsburgh defense held Cleveland to 91 first-half yards en route to a 10-0 lead at the break.

Roethlisberger connected with Johnson on a 5-yard scoring pass with 10:39 left in the second quarter. Ahkello Witherspoon’s interception of Mayfield at the Browns’ 43 set up Boswell’s 22-yard field goal with 3:02 left in the half.

Boswell kicked a 30-yard field goal to boost the lead to 13-0 with 8:20 left in the third quarter.

–Field Level Media

Field Level Media
Sport Writer & Editor
FLM has a North American focus while tying into regional and hyper-local resources – providing the ability to distribute compelling content through the writing of professional journalists. As the U.S. sports content provider to dozens of digital and print media publishers through strategic partnerships with the likes of Reuters and Nielsen Sports, FLM covers the nuts and bolts with a breaking news desk and game event coverage.

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