The Journal Gazette
 
 
Monday, December 02, 2019 1:00 am

Steelers' duck caller throws for 212 yards

WILL GRAVES | Associated Press

PITTSBURGH – No fighting. No helmet swinging. Barely any trash talking. Just football.

And one very loud statement from the banged-up Pittsburgh Steelers written not on a T-shirt but all over the Heinz Field turf: The faces may change when Cleveland visits Pittsburgh. The result does not.

Undrafted rookie free agent Devlin “Duck” Hodges threw for 212 yards with a touchdown and an interception, fellow rookie Benny Snell ran for 63 yards and a score and the largely anonymous Steelers (7-5) surged past the Browns 20-13 on Sunday. The hosts exacted a measure of revenge for its ugly, brawl-marred defeat in Cleveland two weeks ago by keeping the Browns (5-7) winless in Pittsburgh for 16 years and counting.

“It's been a weird year,” Steelers guard David DeCastro said.

Yet the Steelers remain in the middle of the playoff chase after rallying from 10 points down thanks in large part to Hodges, a champion duck caller in his downtime now 2-0 as starter. Bumped to the top of the depth chart last week in place of struggling Mason Rudolph, Hodges completed 14 of 21 passes and hardly played like a guy cut at the end of training camp.

“I've always believed in myself,” Hodges said. “I know I have people in my corner who believed in me. Even the guys on the team, when I was let go, I had a bunch of them text me and say, 'Hey, this isn't over for you.'”

It might be for the Browns (5-7), who saw their three-game winning streak come to a crashing halt. They were outplayed over the final three quarters by a Steelers team riddled with injury and inexperience at the offensive skill positions. Cleveland likely now needs to win out and get some help to reach the playoffs.

“No one is coming to save us,” Cleveland defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson said. “It's too late in the season for that. We're all we got.”

The Browns had their chances. Cleveland took an early 10-0 lead but sputtered the rest of the way. Baker Mayfield completed 18 of 32 passes for 196 yards with a touchdown and an interception, and played the second half with his right (throwing) hand in a protective glove after smacking it against the face mask of Pittsburgh linebacker Bud Dupree.

Mayfield declined to blame the injury, which the Browns described as a bruise, as a reason behind his so-so second half. Mayfield went 8 of 15 for 98 yards after getting hurt, his final throw a wayward toss in the direction of Jarvis Landry that Steelers cornerback and former Brown Joe Haden picked off with 1:06 remaining.

Nick Chubb ran for 58 yards and Kareem Hunt added 65 total yards and a touchdown reception. But Cleveland failed to pull even with the Steelers in the AFC North and sweep the season series from its rival for the first time in 31 years. 


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