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Steelers move to 5-0 for first time since 1978 but lose Devin Bush to injury

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette — By Gerry Dulac Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Oct. 18-- The Steelers did what they always seem to do to the Cleveland Browns at Heinz Field. Only this time, it was in very convincing fashion.

They kept their unbeaten record intact with a 38-7 victory on Sunday, handing the Browns their 17th loss in a row at Heinz Field and their worst since a 31-0 defeat here in 2008.

It is the first time the Steelers have started 5-0 since the 1978 season when they went on to win their third Super Bowl. The loss ended the Browns' four-game winning streak and dropped them to 4-2.

The Steelers held the Browns' league-leading rushing attack to 75 yards on 22 carries, well below their average of 188.4, and stopped them three times on fourth-and-1 situations. They also intercepted quarterback Baker Mayfield twice-once for a 33-yard touchdown return by Minkah Fitzpatrick-and sacked him four times before he was replaced by Case Keenum.

The Browns were the AFC's highest scoring team and were averaging 37.5 points in their past four games. But the Steelers held them to one meaningless touchdown in the final minute of the first half.

However, the defense lost inside linebacker Devin Bush with a left knee injury in the second quarter. He did not return.

It was the second game in a row the Steelers scored at least 30 points after failing to do so for an NFL-long 23 consecutive games. Running back James Conner had 101 yards on 20 carries, the third time this season he has rushed for more than 100 yards.

Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger completed 14-of-22 passes for 162 yards and a touchdown without an interception. It was the fourth time in five games he has had a 100-plus passer rating.

The Steelers built a 24-0 lead, their largest of the season, in the second quarter thanks to the 33-yard interception return for touchdown from Fitzpatrick and 59 yards rushing from Conner. They also got a couple big throws from Roethlisberger, including a 28-yard touchdown to James Washington, to take a 24-7 halftime lead.

The defense held the Browns to 44 yards rushing and intercepted Mayfield twice in the first half.

The Steelers scored on their opening possession for the first time this season, getting a 35-yard field goal from Chris Boswell for a 3-0 lead after their drive stalled at the Browns 17.

But on the ensuing possession, Fitzpatrick stepped in front of Mayfield's pass for tight end Harrison Bryant and returned the pick for a score-his first interception in 12 games and first scoring return since a 96-yarder against Indianapolis on Nov. 3, 2019.

The Steelers built the lead to 17-0 in the second quarter when Conner scored on a 3-yard run, one play after Roethlisberger hit rookie receiver Chase Claypool down the left sideline for a 33-yard gain over cornerback Terrance Mitchell. The touchdown capped a seven-play, 88-play drive and marked the second week in a row the Steelers had built a 17-point lead.

But the Steelers didn't stop there. After cornerback Cam Sutton intercepted Mayfield's third-down pass at the 50, they made it 24-0 when Roethlisberger hit a wide-open Washington for a 28-yard touchdown. Washington got behind cornerback Denzel Ward, who bit on a Roethlisberger pump fake.

The Browns, though, finally got on the board when Mayfield hit receiver Rashard Higgins for a 13-yard touchdown with 61 seconds remaining in the half, cutting the lead to 24-7. That capped a nine-play, 75-yard drive that was highlighted by a 36-yard pass from Mayfield to tight end Austin Hooper.

Unlike last week's game against the Eagles, when the Steelers started to let a 17-point lead slip away, they built the margin back to 24 on a 3-yard run by Claypool, his sixth touchdown of the season. The scoring drive was set up when defensive end Cam Heyward stopped running back Kareem Hunt for a 1-yard loss on fourth-and-1 at the Steelers 29. The Steelers converted their own fourth-and-1 on the drive when Roethlisberger sneaked for a 2-yard gain to the Browns 3, setting up Claypool's run around the left end for a 31-7 lead.

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