That's how you play a complete football game!
The Browns were down to just three defensive linemen at the beginning of the game -- two of whom were inactive last week. C Alex Mack missed the first snaps of his career, leaving the game early with a lower leg injury. Two of the Browns' best defenders, OLB Paul Kruger and CB Joe Haden playing through injuries. The net result?
A 31-10 smackdown. After four straight games that were decided by a margin of three points or less, the Browns finally got the offense, defense, and special teams units clicking at the same time, and the result was a thing of beauty. The Browns improved to 3-2 on the season and have very winnable games coming up against the Jaguars, Buccaneers, and Raiders. Those could be the three worst teams in the NFL.
Our quarter-by-quarter summary is below -- get ready to celebrate, Browns fans!
I want this framed in my living room. pic.twitter.com/2B9bUp9JfH— Branman (@Branmancanjam) October 12, 2014
1st Quarter: After the Steelers and Browns both went three-and-out on their first defensive series, Pittsburgh began marching down the field mid-way through the first quarter. With the assistance of a pass interference call on the Browns, the Steelers got down into the red zone.
Despite being down to just three defensive linemen, the defense held Pittsburgh to a short field goal attempt, giving the Steelers a 3-0 lead. Cleveland's offense followed that up with another three-and-out, and a short punt gave Pittsburgh the ball at midfield. The Steelers are driving as we head to the second quarter.
2nd Quarter: After a botched field goal by the Steelers, it remained a 3-0 game. Facing a 3rd-and-6, the Browns finally got their first first down of the game with a completion to WR Miles Austin. Right after that, QB Brian Hoyer found TE Jordan Cameron wide open for a 42-yard gain, and then on the next play, RB Isaiah Crowell punched it in from 5 yards out, giving the Browns a 7-3 lead!
After the Steelers went three-and-out, the Browns faced a 3rd-and-1 at midfield, and Hoyer stunned the Steelers with a playaction throw deep down the middle to Cameron, who went 51 yards for a touchdown, giving the Browns a 14-3 advantage!
On a somber note, C Alex Mack had to be carted off with an injury. His teammates rallied behind him, leading to another Browns touchdown -- this time a 8-yard run by RB Ben Tate -- to put Cleveland up 21-3. The Browns will get the ball to begin the third quarter.
3rd Quarter: The Browns moved the ball well on their first offensive series of the second half, but passed on a 54-yard field goal attempt and decided to punt, pinning the Steelers back at the 5 yard line instead. The Steelers drove down the field and into field goal range, but back-to-back sacks forced the Steelers to punt. The Browns had a 21-3 lead mid-way through the third quarter.
Cleveland drove down the field on their next possession and had to settle for a 40-yard field goal attempt. It looked like K Billy Cundiff's attempt was going to be just wide right, but at the last second, it scooted inside the uprights to give the Browns a 24-3 lead with 3:23 to play in the third quarter.
With Pittsburgh needing to rally, when QB Ben Roethlisberger dropping back to throw, his pass was deflected by DL John Hughes and then intercepted by CB Buster Skrine! The Browns are on the move as we head to the final quarter of play.
4th Quarter: Cleveland didn't hold anything back as RB Ben Tate punched it in from 1 yard out near the beginning of the fourth quarter to take a 31-3 lead! On the Browns' next series, while trying to put the game away, RB Isaiah Crowell fumbled, giving Pittsburgh the ball near midfield. The Browns held strong defensively, forcing a turnover on downs in the red zone with under 7 minutes to play. Cleveland ran some clock and punted. With under 3 minutes to play, QB Ben Roethlisberger got a garbage time touchdown, finding WR Lance Moore for a 26-yard score to make it 31-10. The Steelers tried an onside kick, but the Browns recovered and drained some more clock.
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