We'll take a win any way we can get it, but I'm going to sugarcoat it here: This one wasn't pretty. In order for the Pittsburgh Steelers to pull off the 'W' on Monday Night Football against the Cleveland Browns, it took 4 turnovers caused by the defense and a pair of defensive touchdowns (not exactly a consistent recipe for success).
Still, the Steelers can at least take some comfort knowing that they have avoided a dreaded 0-2 start to the season and that they were able to keep the Browns from advancing to 2-0 in the AFC North. With the win, Pittsburgh jumps into second place in the division behind only the Baltimore Ravens entering Week 3.
There's a lot to unpack from this game, and unfortunately, there's as much bad as there was good in this contest. Here are my four biggest takeaways from Pittsburgh's sloppy 26-22 win over the Browns on Monday Night Football.
1. Alex Highsmith and T.J. Watt are worth every penny
Let's start with the players of the game: Alex Highsmith and T.J. Watt. Without them, there's no chance they would have pulled this one off. On the very first play of the game, Highsmith intercepted a Deshaun Watson pass off the tip and ran it back for a touchdown.
Later, with just under seven minutes in regulation, Highsmith came up with a big strip-sack on Watson in which T.J. Watt scooped up the football and ran it in for a score. Just before the half, Watt broke the Steelers all-time sack record with a nice play that stalled the drive of the Browns. Highsmith and Watt single-handedly accounted for 14 of the 26 points scored by the Steelers in this game.
I guess there's a reason you pay a pair of edge defenders a combined $45 million per season. This is one of the strongest pass-rush tandems in the league, and they are largely responsible for helping Mike Tomlin and the Steelers avoid an 0-2 start to the season.