If it’s the last game at Heinz Field for Ben Roethlisberger, he’s going out with a victory.
Dionate Johnson caught a 5-yard touchdown pass from Roethlisberger, Chris Boswell kicked four field goals, and the Pittsburgh defense sacked Baker Mayfield nine times — four of which came from T.J. Watt — in a 26-14 victory over the Cleveland Browns on Monday night.
Watt’s four sacks give him 21.5 sacks for the season, which puts him just one sack behind the NFL record of 22.5 by Michael Strahan in the 2001 season with the New York Giants.
Watt is the first Steelers player with four sacks in a game since Joey Porter had four against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2001. He is the third player this season to have at least four sacks in a game, joining Myles Garrett of the Browns (4.5 vs. Chicago) and Chandler Jones of the Arizona Cardinals (5.0 against Tennessee).
The victory for Pittsburgh secures their 18th straight season without a losing record. They will finish no worse than 8-8-1 this season. That covers the entirety of Roethlisberger’s tenure in Pittsburgh.
While it was Roethlisberger’s stage, it was Watt, the Steelers defense, and Najee Harris that led the way to victory.
Harris rushed for 188 yards on 28 carries and surpassed Franco Harris’ record for the most rushing yards by a rookie in Steelers team history. Harris had 1,055 rushing yards in 14 games as a rookie in 1972. Harris finished the night at 1,172 for the season. The 188 yards are the eighth-most by a Steelers player in history.
Watt carried the stellar pass rushing effort for Pittsburgh as well. Watt, Alex Highsmith (2.0), Cam Heyward, Henry Mondeaux and Derrek Tuszka combined for the nine-sack night for the Steelers defense.
Roethlisberger finished the night with 123 yards passing with a touchdown and an interception on 46 attempts.
After Johnson’s touchdown give the Steelers on the board, Chris Boswell kicked field goals of 22 and 30 yards to take a 13-0 lead into halftime.
A sack from Jadeveon Clowney of Roethlisberger backed the Steelers up to their own 4-yard line. After a punt, Donovan Peoples-Jones picked up 39 yards on a catch-and-run through the Steelers secondary to get into scoring position. After two runs from Nick Chubb inched the Browns closer, David Njoku‘s 3-yard touchdown got the Browns on the board.
Boswell stretched the lead back out again with field goals from 50 and 48 yards to make it a 19-7 game with just 5:48 left.
Harrison Bryant caught a 1-yard touchdown from Mayfield to trim the lead to 19-14 with 1:10 left. Then Harris broke free for a 37-yard touchdown run after the Steelers recovered an onside kick to put the game away.
Roethlisberger kneeled out the victory after Tre Norwood intercepted Mayfield with 10 seconds left to play.
Mayfield completed 16-of-38 passes for 185 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions.