The Pittsburgh Steelers hosted the rival Cleveland Browns on Monday Night Football. It was reportedly the final home game for future Hall of Fame quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. If so, it was a fitting end to his home career, playing against the team he has dominated like no other.

The Steelers dominated, and in particularly, defensively against the Browns. The win improved Pittsburgh’s record to 8-7-1 and kept their slim playoff hopes alive.

Here are the key takeaways from the Pittsburgh Steelers Week 17 win over the Cleveland Browns.

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Steelers Week 17 Takeaways

4. Ben Roethlisberger would be making right decision to retire

Ben Roethlisberger is a sure-fire Hall of Fame quarterback. He is part of one of the greatest quarterback draft classes ever. He was drafted alongside Philip Rivers and Eli Manning. He won two Super Bowls early in his career, in 2005 and 2008. He is going to finish his season without ever having a losing season. The list of his accomplishments could go on. But his play on the field has left little doubt, that the end is here.

On Monday night, Roethlisberger threw 46 passes, for a grand total of 123 passing yards. That’s really hard to do, especially in today’s NFL.

Roethlisberger is having the worst statistical season of his career. He has a career-low QBR of 35, having only thrown 21 touchdown passes to nine interceptions. The decline has been happening for a while, but watching him play it becomes clear that the time to walk away is now.

3. Steelers defense is better than most realize, T.J. Watt is a game changer

A lot of people counted the Steelers out after they allowed the Minnesota Vikings to rush for almost 300 yards against them a few weeks ago. Their demise was clearly overstated.

Pittsburgh have won two of three since, and climbed back into the playoff picture. The key reason for that has been their defense, and in particular, T.J. Watt.

On Monday night, the Steelers sacked Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield an unbelievable nine times. They also picked him off twice and batted down five passes. Watt recorded four of those sacks, bringing his season total to 21.5.

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He is now only 1 sack behind Michael Strahan’s NFL record of 22.5 sacks in a single season. Granted, there are 17 games in the NFL season now, but still, it’s impressive nonetheless. The defense is filled with good players outside of Watt also. Cameron Heyward, Joe Haden, Minkah Fitzpatrick are just a few.

2. Pittsburgh has their RB of the future

You can argue that no team drafts and develops skill position players better than the Steelers organization. They have long been known for drafting wide receivers. Well, they have absolutely hit a home run in the backfield with Najee Harris.

Monday night, Harris rushed the ball 28 times for 188 yards. He also added three catches for 18 yards. He has shown during his rookie season that he is a bell-cow back. That’s exactly what Pittsburgh was hoping for when they used a first round pick on him in the 2021 NFL Draft.

The Alabama running back has the size and speed to be elite. He showed off some of his strength Monday night. This is a mean stiff arm.

In his rookie season, Harris is 4th in the NFL in rushing with 1,172 yards and seven touchdowns. He is 2nd in rush attempts, showing he can handle the rock. But what most didn’t expect is his ability to catch the ball out of the backfield. Harris has 70 catches for another 440 yards through the air and three more touchdowns.

With how many touches Pittsburgh is giving him during his rookie season, it’s fair to say that he might not be elite for very long. But for the next handful of years, they have one of the best running backs in football.

2. Pittsburgh earns a shot at the playoffs

With the win Monday night, the Steelers kept themselves alive for a postseason berth. They are 8-7-1, a half game behind the Indianapolis Colts, Los Angeles Chargers and Las Vegas Raiders. Another important note is that they are a half game ahead of the Baltimore Ravens.

Luckily for Pittsburgh, the Chargers play against the Raiders. One of them will drop to 9-8 more than likely, while the other claims a wild card spot. That leaves the Colts. Indianapolis has to play at Jacksonville. On paper, that sounds like an easy win. But the Colts have not won a road game against the Jaguars since 2014. It’s not bee good them in recent years.

If the Jaguars can pull off an upset, it would be in the Steelers hands. They finish the season against their rival, Baltimore Ravens. Under the above circumstance, a win gets Pittsburgh into the playoffs.