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Browns’ lead tightens up at 35-23 heading to the 4th quarter

Discuss the 4th quarter of CLE vs. PIT live, as the action unfolds.

Wild Card Round - Cleveland Browns v Pittsburgh Steelers Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

The Browns led by 25 points at the half, but heading into the final quarter of play, their lead is down to just 12 points. Can they hang on to advance in the playoffs? Let’s recap the third quarter:

The Browns got the ball to begin the second half and were able to move the ball to midfield with a couple of first down conversions. Cleveland’s receivers had an illegal formation on one play, which made it 2nd-and-15 and basically ended up stalling the drive. Gillan punted the ball, and the Steelers began their first drive of the second half from the 16 yard line.

Pittsburgh passed the ball non-stop, with Roethlisberger getting into a rhythm and the Browns’ defensive backs playing pretty conservative. Taking 3:45 off the clock, Roethlisberger found Ebron for a 17-yard touchdown pass to make it a 35-16 game. The Steelers went for two points, but Roethlisberger’s pass was incomplete on the attempt, keeping it a 19-point game with 7:22 remaining in the third quarter.

Cleveland’s response on offense wasn’t ideal, as they went three-and-out and only took one minute off the clock after Mayfield’s third down pass to Landry was incomplete. The Browns tried to run a bootleg with Mayfield on first down of that drive — something I’ve been against running vs. Pittsburgh, and Mayfield’s pass was incomplete as he faced immediate pressure.

After Gillan’s punt, the Steelers began their next drive at the 32 yard line. CB Terrance Mitchell had a shot early in the drive at an interception, but didn’t come up with it. After that, Roethlisberger continued to find his groove in the passing game, moving the ball into a goal-to-go situation like clockwork. After two incompletions, though, it was 3rd-and-goal from the 5 yard line. Roethlisberger went for Ebron, but the pass was incomplete. On 4th-and-goal, Tomlin decided to go for it. Roethlisberger threaded the needle to WR JuJu Smith-Schuster to the left side, making it a 35-23 game, cutting Cleveland’s lead to 12 points with 2:57 remaining in the third quarter.

Like a bad nightmare, Cleveland went three-and-out again, as Mayfield was almost intercepted on third down when Peoples-Jones slipped on a route. The Steelers got the ball back with 1:30 to go in the quarter at the 37 yard line.

VS.

Game: Cleveland Browns vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
Date/Time: Sunday, January 10, 2021 at 8:15 PM ET
Television: NBC - Al Michaels (play-by-play) & Cris Collinsworth (analyst)
Local Radio: ESPN 850 WKNR, 92.3 The Fan, 98.5 FM WNCX