How are we supposed to feel? The Browns rallied from 21-7 down, took Pittsburgh to the limit in overtime...but we ended in a tie. A tie. We won’t go 0-16...but it was a tie? Ugh.
Let’s get to how it went down.
With the rain falling heavily, it was an ugly first half for both teams. For Cleveland, they couldn’t produce much of anything on offense. For Pittsburgh, they could move the ball, but QB Ben Roethlisberger threw three touchdowns in the first half. The first one went to CB Denzel Ward after a play broke down mid-way through the first quarter:
The Steelers got on the scoreboard first part-way into the second quarter, thanks to a third down unnecessary roughness penalty on DE Myles Garrett that led to a fresh set of downs. One play later, RB James Conner punched it in from 4 yards out to give Pittsburgh a 7-0 lead:
The Browns’ second takeaway came when Roethlisberger tried to find WR Antonio Brown deep, but FS Damarious Randall got the jump on it:
The Browns’ next drive could have had them facing a decision on 4th-and-5 in deep field goal range, but the decision was taken out of their hands when WR Josh Gordon was flagged (bad call) for unnecessary roughness on a block. The Steelers final interception of the half came when they were driving to close out the first half, and the rookie Ward came away with his second pick of the half:
The Browns got things going to begin the second half, but it took a little bit of help. QB Tyrod Taylor was sacked on the first play. Backed up in their own territory, a defensive holding on a run play by the Steekers’ nose tackle gave them a first down. Then, CB Artie Burns was fuming after a block by WR Jarvis Landry pancaked him, and he whipped off his helmet for a 15-yard penalty.
From there, it was ground-and-pound from all three Cleveland running backs. Then, Taylor scrambled and took it in himself from 20 yards out to tie the game at 7-7.
Unfortunately, it didn’t last long. On the first play of the next drive, WR JuJu Smith-Schuster caught a quick pass and ran 67 yards down to the goal line. Back-to-back touchdown plays were called back to penalties, but then Roethlisberger hit WR Antonio Brown up the right edge for a 22-yard touchdown despite darn-near perfect coverage from Ward to make it a 14-7 game.
The game quickly flipped after that. The Browns did nothing on offense, had a short punt, and then Conner had carries of 17 and 22 yards, the latter of which put the Steelers up 21-7 toward the tail end of the third quarter.
Cleveland was sparked again on offense with a big play to WR Jarvis Landry downfield. they tried to stay aggressive, but the deep ball to WR Josh Gordon in the end zone saw CB Joe Haden go up and make an aggressive play that certainly could have been pass interference. On second down, Taylor and TE David Njoku couldn’t connect on a hot read that could’ve been a big play. Finally, on third down, Njoku just flat out dropped a perfect first down pass.
Cleveland tried to grind things out. But on 4th-and-5 in scoring range, Taylor’s end zone pass for Landry fell incomplete. With under 8 minutes to go, that appeared to be it...but then DE Myles Garrett poked the ball away from Conner on the next play, and SS Jabrill Peppers recovered and returned it to the 1 yard line! RB Carlos Hyde punched it in, making it a 21-14 game with 7:32 to play.
On the next drive, Roethlisberger was hit by Garrett after a bobbled snap, leading to a fumble that was recovered by MLB Joe Schobert! Sadly, despite being on their end of the field, the offense went three-and-out and had to punt with about 5 minutes to go.
The Browns forced a punt, and with just over 2 minutes to go, Taylor found WR Rashard Higgins for 38 yards down the right sideline! On the next play, Taylor found WR Josh Gordon for his first catch of the game, a 17-yard touchdown, to tie the game at 21-21 with 1:58 to play in regulation!
The Steelers went three-and-out themselves, and Cleveland started driving past midfield. With no timeouts and 23 seconds left, from the 42 yard line, Taylor tried to air one out to Gordon down the right sideline. The pass was underthrown, though, and Pittsburgh intercepted the pass, forcing overtime.
The Browns won the coin toss and elected to receive the ball. They went three-and-out, though, and had to punt to Pittsburgh, who got a big dumpoff to Conner to move to near midfield. The defense came alive, though! Garrett’s rush forced a hold, CB Terrance Mitchell broke up a pass, and pressure forced Roethlisberger to take a sack for 3rd-and-31. That led to a punt, and with under 6 minutes to go, now you start worrying about the thought of a tie.
Especially after the Browns went three-and-out, and now 4.5 minutes to go. A high snap on the punt, followed by the protector getting pushed into him, forced P Britton Colquitt to get rid of it quick, but short, allowing great field position for Big Ben. Several plays later, K Chris Boswell tried the game-winner from 42 yards out...and missed it!
But the Browns went three-and-out. Despite there being 1:28 to play, they had to punt, giving Pittsburgh once last shot and basically settling for a tie at best....right? Right!?! Not yet!
The Browns got pressure on Roethlisberger with 0:47 left and poked the ball out, allowing MLB Joe Schobert to intercept the pass and return it to within field goal range with 0:36 to go.
That brought K Zane Gonzalez on for a 43-yard attempt...and it was blocked. :-/
- QB Tyrod Taylor: 15-of-39 for 197 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT. 8 rushes, 77 yards, 1 TD.
- RB Carlos Hyde: 22 rushes, 62 yards, 1 TD. 1 catch, 3 yards (2 targets).
- WR Jarvis Landry: 7 catches, 106 yards (15 targets).
- WR Josh Gordon: 1 catch, 17 yards (3 targets). 1 TD.
- DE Myles Garrett: 6 tackles, 2 sacks, 2 forced fumbles.
- CB Denzel Ward: 5 tackles, 2 interceptions.
- The Browns forced 6 turnovers, but were out-gained 472 yards to 327 yards.