Steelers vs. Browns: In a tough contest, Madden simulation provides redemption for Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh Steelers, Steelers
Pittsburgh Steelers, Steelers / Todd Kirkland/GettyImages
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Every week through the Pittsburgh Steelers 2023 season, I'll run a simulation on EA Sports Madden NFL 24 for the Steelers opponent for that week.

The structure of the sim is rather straightforward. I'll allow the CPU to play the game against itself to allow for a more authentic simulation. Six-minute quarters, with the weather as close to the forecast as possible. I won't pick up the controller to aid the Steelers in any way.

The simulation will run with Madden's most up-to-date rosters. I will only take out an injured player not yet recognized by Madden if they are confirmed to be out for the game.

For Week 2 on Monday night football, the Pittsburgh Steelers host the Cleveland Browns. Here's how Madden NFL 24 sees the contest shaking out.

Steelers and Browns Get Out to an Early Dog Fight

After a Najee Harris first down run, Pickett found Allen Robinson II between the zones on a corner route for a gain of 26. On the next play, he goes the other way to George Pickens on a similar concept for a 45-yard touchdown. The four-play drive ends in six points.

Madden has been rather kind to Pittsburgh's offense in these sims so far this season.

Deshaun Watson and the Browns' offense matriculate down the field, but a Keanu Neal sack throws Cleveland's offense off just enough. With third and long, Watson launched one deep for Elijah Moore but overthrew his man. Cade York missed the ensuing 55-yard field goal, giving Pittsburgh a short field.

Harris got the Steelers across the 50 with a 17-yard rush early in the next drive. On the next play, Pickett found Robinson in the flats, who snuck up the field to get the Steelers in the red zone. Pickett fired the next one to Pickens over the middle to get the ball inside the five to close out the first quarter. Harris gets the give on the next play, following Conner Heyward at fullback for a four-yard touchdown run.

A 14-0 lead opens up for Pittsburgh early. Cleveland was ready to respond though.

Watson hit Amari Cooper on a wide-open drag route for 31 yards to get into Steelers territory. After an 11-yard toss to Cooper on the next play, Alex Highsmith leaves with an injury, though he doesn't stay out long. Watson scrambles for 15 to get Cleveland inside the 10 a few plays later. Two plays after that, Watson scrambled forward before firing to Amari Cooper in the corner of the endzone with Damontae Kazee in coverage, tightening Pittsburgh's lead down to 14-7.

The Steelers go three-and-out on the following drive as Pickett misses his first throw on a short pass to Harris on third and three.

Cleveland takes over at the 38 just before the 2-minute warning. Watson hits a few passes in succession to drive Cleveland down to the two-yard line. Nick Chubb gets the give and powers through Elandon Roberts to tie the game at 14 just before the half.

On the last drive before halftime, poor playcalling and clock management forced the Steelers into a Hail Mary situation from the 50. Pickett tried to find Pickens, but the pass fell incomplete to end the half.