And with that, the Cleveland Browns' season is officially over. At least we got to see some snow at the end of the game.
Both games against the Pittsburgh Steelers the past couple of weeks had similar "feels" to them -- a combination of bad offense, and a group of defensive players who busted their tail off to keep the game competitive until the final whistle.
The Browns' defense forced two fumbles in the second half to give the offense a chance to go down and score a game-winning touchdown, but they could not capitalize. Cleveland had a Hail Mary attempt as time expired, but the pass fell incomplete in the end zone.
If you're looking at the scoreboard, the difference in the game very well could have been Seneca Wallace's interception mid-way through the third quarter. Wallace telegraphed a pass to the sideline and it was intercepted by safety Troy Polamalu. Several plays later, running back Isaac Redman (in for the injured Rashard Mendenhall) ran for the game's only touchdown, giving Pittsburgh their first lead of the game.
Cleveland only managed three field goals by kicker Phil Dawson. Wallace was inaccurate or made poor decisions most of the game, completing only 39 percent of his passes. The only thing Wallace seemed to do well came on two big scrambles that he had, each of which helped set up a field goal. Joshua Cribbs also made some nice catches, finishing with 7 grabs for 91 yards. Notably absent from the stat sheet, despite playing, was rookie receiver Greg Little.
I would've loved for Cleveland to win over Pittsburgh, but it is what it is. By virtue of losing, the Browns did themselves a huge favor in terms of the draft. They now own the fourth overall pick in the 2012 draft by my tabulation. Had the Browns won the game, they would've dropped to the sixth overall pick. It might not seem like a big difference, but it is more "points" if the Browns need to trade up, and it could be the difference between acquiring or missing out on the team's top prospect on their draft board.