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Steelers Stifle Deshaun Watson in First Divisional Battle as Browns QB



Steelers Browns Deshaun Watson

PITTSBURGH — When the Cleveland Browns signed quarterback Deshaun Watson to contract worth $230 million this offseason, that not only fully guaranteed Watson his paycheck for the next five years, but also promised 10 battles between Watson and the Pittsburgh Steelers defense.

That numbers was reduced to nine when Watson was suspended for most of the 2022 season after being repeatedly accused of sexual assault from his time with the Houston Texans.

As a result, it took until Week 18 for the Steelers to get their first up-close look at the Browns with their new presumptive franchise quarterback. It’s safe to say you can put the first meeting in the win column for the Black and Gold defense.

In Pittsburgh’s 28-14 win over Cleveland on Sunday, Steelers held Watson to 230 yards on 19 of 29 passing. He did throw two touchdowns, but more importantly, also threw two interceptions, which led to 10 points off turnovers and served as a springboard for a Steelers offense that had a hard time getting going. He finished with an 84 passer rating, well below his career mark of 102.6.

The Steelers also greatly limited Watson’s ability to impact the game on the ground. He rushed six times for 44 yards, but he was also sacked seven times for 57 yards. Head coach Mike Tomlin said that the Steelers got the job done on Sunday, holding the Browns to 14 total points, but that Watson made it clear that he will make an impact on the series in the future.

“He is a problem,” Tomlin said. “Particularly as he runs around and extends plays and things of that nature. That’s probably not going to go anywhere.”

Even though the Steelers sacked him seven times, they felt like they probably should have had more.

“You guys saw, he’s very tough to get down,” outside linebacker T.J. Watt said. “We knew the extended plays were going to be a problem, and they were today, but it’s all good film to learn from.”

“Just got to give the Steelers credit,” Watson said. “They did what they needed to do to create some pressure, some turnovers and they capitalized on that. So, it didn’t go our way, and we’ve just got to watch the tape and just try to get ready for the offseason.”

The Browns invested a ton in Watson, not only in cash but in trading three consecutive first-round draft picks. They’ve invested in him succeeding as their franchise quarterback. Which means the Steelers will need to be just as invested in stopping him. So far, so good.

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