Browns QB Deshaun Watson Speaks Out on Face Mask Penalties vs. Steelers

Deshaun Watson

Getty Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson tried to explain how he committed two face mask penalties in Week 2 against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The Pittsburgh Steelers kept their regular season winning streak against the Cleveland Browns at Acurisure Stadium intact in the most improbable way in Week 2. Pittsburgh’s defense recorded four takeaways, six sacks and two touchdowns in the 26-22 victory.

Despite having negative yardage in the fourth quarter, the Steelers erased a fourth-quarter deficit.

One of the other major factors in the contest was penalties. The Browns committed 8 fouls for 81 yards. Cleveland had 50 more penalty yards than Pittsburgh did.

Two of the biggest Browns penalties in the contest were on quarterback Deshaun Watson. On two plays where Watson scrambled during the second half, he attempted to stiff arm Steelers defenses but instead grabbed their face masks.

Watson accepted blame for the penalties. But he also offered an odd explanation as to why they occurred.

“I apologized to the team,” Watson told reporters after the game. “A 15-yard penalty for us, and it set us back. Both times was my fault.

“But as far as the face mask and things like that, I’m stiff-arming just like everyone else, and once they grab my arm as I’m running, they keep pushing, the only way I can really let go is to swing across. And once they do that, my hand is stuck in their helmet or in their face mask, so I gotta do a better job of just hitting them with the palm, I guess, and just releasing as much as I can, so we don’t get those penalties.”

Deshaun Watson Stalls Two Drives With Face Mask Penalties

The Browns scored a 70-yard touchdown on their first possession of the second half. The long score gave them a three-point lead.

But as Cleveland approached midfield on its next drive, Watson committed an unnecessary roughness penalty by grabbing linebacker Kwon Alexander by the face mask and throwing him into the bench along the sidelines.

The penalty turned a third-and-10 into third-and-25 and led to a Cleveland punt.

Watson basically made the same mistake on the next possession. He gained seven yards during a scramble on third-and-11, but he freed himself of a Steelers tackler again by stiff arming the defender in the face mask.

The penalty pushed Cleveland out of field-goal range and into a third-and-26 situation. On the next play, tight end David Njoku gained 13 yards but fumbled, which the Steelers recovered.

Both of Watson’s 15-yard penalties stalled promising Cleveland drives around midfield. The second foul was particularly bad because the Browns had a decent chance to convert that drive into a field goal without the face mask penalty.

Although the Browns lost by four, Cleveland getting another field goal with about 10-minutes remaining could have change the complexion of the fourth quarter.

Steelers Defense Saves Week 2 Against Browns

But instead of a potential six-point lead, the Browns remained a field goal ahead when they began their next possession. Cleveland, though, then committed its fourth turnover, which broke the camel’s back.

Edge rusher Alex Highsmith strip sacked Watson at the Browns 13-yard line. T.J. Watt picked up the lose ball and ran for the game-winning touchdown.

Highsmith also began the game with an interception returned for a touchdown on the first play from scrimmage. Thanks to those two defensive scores, the Steelers overcame another subpar offensive performance.

Pittsburgh managed just 255 offensive yards and nine first downs in Week 2. The Steelers never drove into the red zone. Their only touchdown was a 71-yard reception to George Pickens.

Other than that play, quarterback Kenny Pickett largely struggled. He finished 15-for-30 with 222 yards, a touchdown and interception.

The Steelers will face the Las Vegas Raiders in Week 3.

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Milton Biggs
Milton Biggs
10 days ago

As a life Long Steelers fan our defense was awesome and we were lucky because I will admit that was pass interference that wasn’t called against us At the end of the game on fourth down Big time LoL I was waiting for the flag Porter Jr better stop that or get better At hiding it 😂😂😂