(Photo credit: Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports)
Linebackers T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith each scored their first career regular-season touchdown and the Pittsburgh Steelers continued their home domination of the Cleveland Browns with a 26-22 victory in an AFC North battle on Monday night.
Watt returned a fumble 16 yards for the decisive touchdown with 6:58 remaining as Pittsburgh won its 20th consecutive regular-season home game against the Browns. Highsmith forced the fumble with his sack of Cleveland's Deshaun Watson, and he earlier opened the contest with a interception return for a touchdown.
George Pickens caught four passes for 127 yards, including a 71-yard touchdown toss from Kenny Pickett, for the Steelers (1-1). Pickett completed 15 of 30 passes for 222 yards, one touchdown and one interception.
The Pittsburgh defense racked up six sacks.
Watson produced 235 yards, one touchdown and one interception on 22-of-40 passing for the Browns (1-1). Cleveland last won its first two games of a season in 1993, when Bill Belichick was the head coach and Nick Saban was the defensive coordinator.
Cleveland star running back Nick Chubb was carted off the field in the first minute of the second quarter with a potentially serious left knee injury. As he planted the leg, Chubb took a hard hit from Pittsburgh's Minkah Fitzpatrick.
Chubb rushed for 64 yards on 10 carries. Jerome Ford filled in and had 106 yards on 16 attempts, and Pierre Strong ran for a touchdown.
Cleveland did post a victory in Pittsburgh in an AFC wild-card playoff game following the 2020 season.
Watt had a sack to become Pittsburgh's all-time leader with 81 1/2, passing James Harrison.
Ford broke loose on a 69-yard run to the Steelers' 1-yard line early in the third quarter. Two plays later, Strong scored from the 1 before Watson added a two-point scoring run to give Cleveland a 22-19 edge.
However, the big play by Highsmith and Watt turned the tide as the Steelers evened their record.
On the first play of the game, Highsmith returned an interception 30 yards for a score just nine seconds into the contest.
Cleveland scored the next 11 points to take a four-point lead later in the half, before Pickett and Pickens teamed up on the 71-yard scoring play to give the Steelers a 16-11 edge with 6:05 left in the half. It was 16-14 at halftime.
Fitzpatrick exited the game in the second half due to a chest injury.
--Field Level Media