Cleveland arrived at Heinz Field riding high on the heels of its first four-game winning streak since 2009. But with Mayfield battling a rib injury, which limited him in practice all week, the Steelers shut the Browns' offense down while teeing off on Mayfield.
Minkah Fitzpatrick intercepted Mayfield for a touchdown on Cleveland's third snap, and the Steelers' relentless pass-rushers rattled the Browns' QB the rest of the afternoon. Mayfield took several shots to the rib cage he injured last Sunday, most notably just before halftime, when Cameron Heyward smashed into his chest with Bud Dupree holding Mayfield's legs.
Heyward said this week that the Steelers were going to make Mayfield "think about that injury during the day."
They did just that -- while emphatically reminding the Browns they still aren't in Pittsburgh's class.
QB breakdown: It was a nightmarish day for Mayfield, both physically and in how he played. In addition to the battering, Mayfield had one of the worst games of his career. On third downs, he went just 2-of-7 passing for 5 yards with a sack and two picks. When facing the blitz, Mayfield was a mess, as well, completing 2 of 6 passes for only 11 yards with an interception and three sacks. Mayfield was replaced late in the third quarter by Case Keenum. The injury clearly played a role in the performance. But the Browns are going nowhere fast unless Mayfield plays a lot better than he did Sunday.
Troubling trend: Mayfield was pressured, which includes a sack or duress, on 52% of his dropbacks, the highest rate of his pro career. The Browns entered Sunday ranked No. 2 in the NFL in pass-block win rate. But against Pittsburgh's imposing front, Cleveland's offensive line could not protect the quarterback.
Buy a breakout performance: Wide receiver Rashard Higgins caught a touchdown from Mayfield for a second consecutive game. In the doghouse last season, Higgins curiously has been active in only three games this season. But given the chemistry he clearly has with Mayfield, he has demonstrated that he needs to be on the field in three-wide-receiver sets.
Describe the game in two words: Humbling humiliation. In two outings against AFC North rivals Baltimore and Pittsburgh, the Browns have been outscored 76-13.