Thursday night’s matchup didn’t look great on paper. It turned out to be the most compelling primetime game in weeks.
Here’s what we learned during Pittsburgh’s hard-fought 14-3 victory over the Browns.
1. Ben Roethlisberger is . . . flexible. When he got hurt in the first half Thursday night, it sure looked like he wouldn’t come back. Perhaps for a few weeks. Instead, he returned to author one of his most memorable regular season performances.
After the game, Mike Tomlin said Roethlisberger suffered a high ankle sprain.
2. Roethlisberger was limping badly from the injury when he first returned. He struggled to plant his foot, but wound up making a number of nice throws. He finished 17-of-22 for 280 yards, two scores, and an interception. What ankle injury?
4. The final score doesn’t show how tight this game was. The Browns were in the red zone down four points with under five minutes to go. Colt McCoy, who just had his bell rung by James Harrison, threw a weak interception into the end zone to William Gay.
5. Harrison is going to get a hefty fine for that helmet-to-helmet hit. It knocked McCoy out for a few plays. Seneca Wallace came in and put the Browns near the goal line. The Browns coaching staff may regret putting McCoy back in the game. McCoy had one of his best games of the season overall, he struggled after that hit.
6. This Steelers team is just so much more fun to watch because of Antonio Brown. His 79-yard catch and run put the game away in the closing minutes. There isn’t a a better 1-2 wide receiver combination in the league than Brown and Mike Wallace.
7. This was a classic AFC North tilt, and the Steelers found a way to win. It seems like they always do. Still, it’s a concern Pittsburgh can’t get a yard on the goal line when they absolutely need it.
8. This win keeps Pittsburgh very much alive for the No. 1 seed in the AFC at 10-3. They just need to keep winning, and hope the Ravens (and Texans) slip up. The Steelers hold the head-to-head tiebreaker over New England.