CLEVELAND — The Steelers wanted to beat their arch rivals on Sunday, keep the Browns out of the playoff and enter the post-season on a two-game winning streak.
Head coach Mike Tomlin was emphatic after the game that the Steelers were playing to win.
But while they wanted to win, the No. 1 objective was getting to the postseason relatively healthy.
The Steelers dropped a 24-22 decision to the Browns, meaning the teams will meet again in a week’s time in Pittsburgh.
But on the top-line objective, Sunday’s game was a success. The Steelers escaped Cleveland without major injury, with minor bumps and bruises suffered by Vince Williams and Chase Claypool minimized by Tomlin postgame:
“Nothing of any significance,” he said while giving his customary injury rundown.
The Steelers have some other injured players that could return to the fold, as well. Kicker Chris Boswell (groin) and safety Terrell Edmunds (shoulder) missed Sunday’s game, but could return and guard Matt Feiler (pectoral) and Robert Spillane (knee) will be eligible to return from the injured reserve next week, though it remains to be seen if any of those four will be ready to go.
Tight end Eric Ebron and outside linebacker Cassius Marsh, who both spend Sunday on the COVID-19 reserve list, could also be eligible to return if they continue to test negative.
Cornerback Joe Haden, who tested positive late last week, will miss the Steelers’ first playoff game.
The Browns suffered two potentially significant injuries in the game, as wide receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones left the game in the first half with a concussion and defensive end Olivier Vernon had to be helped from the field in the fourth quarter with a left ankle injury.