Pittsburgh Steelers: Losing Devin Bush Made Victory Over Browns Costly
The Pittsburgh Steelers are undefeated, but they suffered a key loss on defense Sunday.
Inside linebacker Devin Bush will miss the remainder of the season, according to multiple reports, after suffering a knee injury during Pittsburgh's 38-7 rout over the Cleveland Browns.
Bush was the 10th-overall pick in the 2019 draft and has been a starter since Day 1. Second on the team in tackles, Bush is a main reason why Pittsburgh's defense is tied for second in the NFL in fewest points allowed per game (18.8), trailing only the Ravens (17.3).
Once Bush went down, Robert Spillane took over as the starter and played well with six tackles. An undrafted player in 2018 out of Western Michigan, Spillane wasn't nearly as heralded as Bush entering the league. But the Steelers need Spillane to step up in a big way and Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin believes he's capable.
"Spillane more than answered the bell, but we've got a great deal of confidence in him," Tomlin said via the team's website. "Guys that make plays in special teams, that's usually a precursor to them making plays on defense. Since we brought him up the middle of last year, he's been a consistent performer for us. So I don't think any of us are surprised with quality play from him."
Pittsburgh was expected to be better this season with the return of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, but superb defense has been the team's foundation. The Steelers have recorded at least three sacks in every game, and they are the first team since the 1985 New York Giants with at least three sacks and one interception in each of their first five games.
The Steelers are 5-0 for only the second time in team history, and they won a Super Bowl in 1978 after starting 5-0. Two AFC heavyweights will clash Sunday when the Steelers travel to face the unbeaten Tennessee Titans (5-0).
Cleveland Browns: Mistakes Continue to Cost Mayfield
It wasn't shocking when Baker Mayfield threw a pick-six to Steelers Pro Bowl safety Minkah Fitzpatrick on Sunday. Fitzpatrick is one of the NFL's best at takeaways, and Mayfield is one of the league's most turnover-prone quarterbacks.
In only his third season, Mayfield already has 11 games in which he has thrown at least two interceptions. Only Jameis Winston (13) and Philip Rivers (12) have more multiple interception games since 2018.
Mayfield was asked how he played after the game.
"Obviously, not good enough," Mayfield said via ESPN.com. "I've got to take care of the ball."
Riding a four-game winning streak, the Browns (4-2) hoped to make a statement in Pittsburgh, but they were badly outplayed and fell to third place in the tough AFC North. Mayfield entered the game with bruised ribs, and was pulled from the game in the third quarter and replaced by backup Case Keenum.
Head Coach Kevin Stefanski said Mayfield remains the starter when healthy, and that he pulled Mayfield because he didn't want to see him take more punishment.
"I didn't want to see him get hit one more time," Stefanski said. "I didn't do a good enough job allowing him to be put in (successful) positions. I have to do way better. I can't let him get hit like that."
However, Mayfield will have to cut down on turnovers to give Cleveland a better chance to make the playoffs for the first time since 2002. The Browns visit the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday.
Cincinnati Bengals: Revamped Secondary Still Having Issues
The Bengals couldn't hold a 21-0 lead and lost to the Indianapolis Colts, 31-27. Rivers threw for 371 yards and three touchdowns against the Bengals, who are yielding too many yards through the air despite revamping their secondary during the offseason.
Cincinnati signed cornerback Trae Waynes during free agency, but he has been on injured reserve all season with a torn pectoral muscle. Safety Vonn Bell was also signed during free agency, and he's a starter in the secondary along with cornerback Mackensie Alexander, who was signed as a free agent from the Minnesota Vikings.
However, the Bengals (1-4-1) are still giving up too many big plays, like the 55-yard completion Sunday to wide receiver Marcus Johnson. The loss wasted a solid performance by the Bengals offense, which was led by rookie quarterback Joe Burrow (25 for 39, 313 yards), who threw for 300 yards for the fourth time in five starts. Bengals safety Jesse Bates III was blunt in his assessment of the team's defense after the game.
"We kind of fell apart when the game matters," Bates said via CincinnatiBengals.com. "It's the same thing I've been saying all year. I mean, it's up to the DB's. It's up to the DB"s and that's all I have to say."