What went right: The Browns made big plays on defense throughout the opener, forcing six turnovers, including five by Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who’s now 21-2-1 as a starter in this series. They had four sacks, including two courtesy of defensive end Myles Garrett, three forced fumbles, including two thanks to Garrett, and three interceptions, two by rookie cornerback Denzel Ward and the other by free safety Damarious Randall.
What went wrong: The Browns were gashed by the Steelers’ running game despite the absence of three-time Pro Bowl running back Le’Veon Bell, who has yet to sign his $14.5 million franchise tender and report to the team. His replacement, James Conner, rushed for 135 yards and two touchdowns on 31 carries (4.4 average). Perhaps the Browns shouldn’t have cut nose tackle Jamie Meder, who had been labeled “probably one of the best run players in the National Football League” by defensive coordinator Gregg Williams in June.
The bottom line: The Browns had six takeaways. The Steelers had one. The Browns had 11 penalties for 87 yards. The Steelers had 12 for 116 yards. The Browns let a win slip away. The Steelers did, too. But it’s a bigger missed opportunity for the team with a plus-five turnover differential.
— Nate Ulrich
Browns 21, Steelers 21: What went right, what went wrong and the bottom line