It was an ugly day as the Browns only managed to put up 10 points while dropping catchable passes, committing penalties at inopportune times, and once again forgetting how to tackle or to cover a wide-open receiver at a key time.
The loss is Cleveland’s third in the past four games, drops the team to 4-4 and into last place in the AFC North Division.
Full disclosure — this might be shorter than normal because the less time and energy spent on today’s game the better for everyone involved.
Cleveland’s offense to open both halves: The Browns only scoring drives of the day came on the opening possession of the first and second half.
The Browns had the ball first and moved smartly down the field on a 13-play, 63-yard drive. Unfortunately, a dropped pass by tight end Austin Hooper on first and goal and a sack of quarterback Baker Mayfield on third and goal left Cleveland settling for a field goal.
Cleveland finally found the end zone on their opening drive of the second half, as D’Ernest Johnson’s 10-yard touchdown run capped off a tidy eight-play, 86-yard scoring drive.
Baker Mayfield: After missing the Denver game with his bum shoulder, Mayfield returned to go 20-of-31 for 225 yards. He might have been at his best on a drive early in the fourth quarter when he was four-of-four for 50 yards and a five-yard scramble on third-and-four as the Browns were driving for what could have been a go-ahead score. Sadly, the drive ended when wide receiver Jarvis Landry fumbled the ball at the Pittsburgh 21-yard line, with the Steelers recovering.
Cleveland’s third-down defense: The Browns have struggled at times on defense when confronted by a third down. But the defense did a decent job on Sunday by limiting the Steelers to just four-of-13 on third down. Of course, it was the ones that Pittsburgh converted that hurt the most. (More on that in a moment.)
Wide receiver Jarvis Landry: It was not a good day for Cleveland’s best wide receiver as Landry only had five catches on 10 targets. He also had the aforementioned turnover when the Browns were driving in the fourth quarter, and then dropped two catchable passes, including one on fourth-and-12, on the next possession that ended Cleveland’s hopes at pulling out a win.
Wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr.: One catch for six yards and a short-arm attempt on a catchable pass that would have set the Browns up inside Pittsburgh’s five-yard line with under three minutes to go. If you thought $15.75 million would get you someone who can make a catch when it matters, you thought wrong.
Wide receiver Rashard Higgins: The Browns still had a chance to win as they were trailing by five points and facing a third-and-11 at Pittsburgh’s 25-yard line just before the two-minute warning. That quickly became a third-and-16 after a false start by Higgins, and the drive stalled two plays later when Landry could not make the catch.
Can someone make a stop when it matters?: The Browns may have allowed the Steelers to convert just four times on third down, but Cleveland could not make a play when it mattered.
Pittsburgh had three scoring drives on the day — two touchdowns and a field goal — and on those drives Pittsburgh converted on third down three times and twice more on fourth down, their first successful fourth-down conversions of the season as they entered the game zero-for-six on fourth-down attempts.
Questionable play-calling on offense: The Browns put together their two scoring drives with a nice balance of 10 passes and 10 runs.
Sandwiched between those two drives, however, were four drives that ended with three punts and a turnover on downs. On those drives, the Browns threw 14 passes to just five runs as head coach Kevin Stefanski seemingly forgot that Cleveland came into the game as the league’s best rushing attack.
The injury gremlin strikes again: The Browns lost right tackle Jack Conklin to a dislocated elbow and safety John Johnson III to a neck stinger. Every time that it seems like the Browns are getting healthy, they lose another starter.
Who is most to blame for the loss to the Steelers?
This poll is closed
The high-priced wide receivers
Defensive coordinator Joe Woods
Head coach Kevin Stefanski
Rocks for everyone
OK, that’s enough for today. Have your say in comments about who deserves a full-size bar on this Halloween and who deserves a rock.