PITTSBURGH — If there was any doubt as to which team still dominates the rivalry between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cleveland Browns, the Steelers put an end to it on Sunday.
In the first game between he teams in 2020, the Steelers dominated in all three phases in a 38-7 rout of the Browns.
The Steelers defense abused Cleveland quarterback Baker Mayfield all day. Mayfield entered the game with a rib injury, and Steelers defensive captain Cameron Heyward said during the week that they planned to inflict some “good punishment” on the banged-up Browns passer.
They did just that, sacking Mayfield four times, led Bud Dupree’s pair, and also hurt him on the scoreboard, as Minkah Fitzpatrick intercepted Mayfield and returned it for a touchdown in the first quarter to give the Steelers an early 10-0.
Offensively, James Conner ran right at, and frequently over, the Cleveland defense. He finished with 101 yards on 20 carries to go along with an early second quarter 3-yard touchdown that made it 17-0.
Conner has now rushed for over 100 yards in three of his five games this season, and the Steelers as a team have had a 100-yard rusher in four of five.
Ben Roethlisberger found James Washington on a busted coverage for a 28-yard score later in the second quarter as the Steelers built a 24-0 lead. Roethlisberger was not asked to do much with the defense providing seven points of their own and two other short fields.
He finished with 162 yards on 14 of 22. The Steelers did not turn the ball over on the day.
Roethlisberger’s most consistent target was rookie Chase Claypool, who hauled in all four targets for 74 yards, twice getting stopped inside the five yard line, once to set up Conner’s touchdown and another to set up Benny Snell later in the game.
Claypool scored on a 3-yard jet sweep in the third quarter to make it 31-7 Pittsburgh, which tied an NFL rookie record with six touchdowns in the first five games of his career.
The biggest downside of the day for the Steelers came on the injury front, as starters Devin Bush and Maurkice Pouncey and Nickel corner Mike Hilton all left with injuries.
The Steelers improved to 5-0 for the first time since 1978. They’ll face a three-game road trip thanks to a revamped schedule, the first of which will come Sunday against the Tennessee Titans, which entered Sunday 4-0.
The Browns fell to 4-2, two games behind the Steelers and into third place behind the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC North. They have lost 17 straight games at Heinz Field and have won just once in the building since it opened in 2001.