NFL

MNF Review Pittsburgh Steelers Keep Their Slim Playoff Hopes Alive

A 26-14 victory over the Cleveland Browns, saw the Pittsburgh Steelers retain an interest in the end of season playoffs in the final Monday Night Football game of the year.

It was a victory that was predicated on a fine defensive display by the Steelers who saw Alex Highsmith and T.J.Watt combine for six sacks apiece, plus six tackles for a loss, while Baker Mayfield was sacked a further three times by other Steelers defensive players.

Add to that two interceptions one by Ahkello Witherspoon and the other by Tre Norwood and it didn’t really matter that the Steelers struggled to get their passing game going.

Especially with Najee Harris torching the Browns on the ground.

Harris Sets New Steelers Rookie Rushing Record

On offense, the Steelers have their ex-Alabama rookie running back Najee Harris to thank for keeping the sticks moving and eventually icing the win.

The youngster rushed for 188 yards on 28 carries and added a vital 37-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter which wrapped up the game for the home team.

When Baker Mayfield hit Harrison Bryant for a 1-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter, the Steelers were only leading by five and the Browns could smell that victory.

However, Harris’ touchdown on the next series effectively ended the game.

His 188-yard night sees him surpass Franco Harris for the most rushing yards in a rookie season in Steelers’ history. With one game remaining, Harris has 1172 yards on the season, although it should be noted Franco Harris achieved his total in just 12 games compared to Najee Harris’s 16.

What Help Do The Steelers Need To Reach The Playoffs?

Although this victory does keep the Steelers’ dreams alive of the playoffs they still need some help in order to earn one of the Wildcard spots in the AFC.

With the Bengals already wrapping up the AFC North, the Steelers need the following to happen on Sunday in order to reach the postseason.

Firstly, they must beat their divisional rivals the Baltimore Ravens in Baltimore. This sounds a very touch ask but the Ravens are heading into this game on the back of a five-game losing streak.

They then need the Indianapolis Colts to lose. That may be much more of an ask as the Colts face the team with the worst record in the NFL, the Jacksonville Jaguars (2-13), who just shipped 50 points to a Patriots team that the Colts beat just a couple of weeks back.

Then they need either the Las Vegas Raiders or the Los Angeles Chargers to win the game between the two teams. It doesn’t matter who wins, so long as one team does win as in the event of a tie, then the Steelers would be eliminated.

The odds on those three things happening look pretty long at the moment as even if the Steelers can win in Baltimore, the odds on the Colts losing to the Jags look very small indeed.

Big Ben’s Future?

There is also the issue regarding Ben Roethlisberger’s future with the franchise. There’s no doubt that there is a tailing off in performance from Roethlisberger that has been evident for a few years now and while he is still a great quarterback at times, the frequency of those games is getting fewer each season.

Was this Big Ben’s last game at Heinz Field? The answers will likely come in the pre-season and the NFL Draft, where I would expect the Steelers to have a very real interest in a first-round Quarterback if they are going to be without Roethlisberger next season.

With one week left, there’s still all to play for and while the Steelers chances are slim, that is still better than none.

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