CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - The Cleveland Browns are headed to the playoffs for the first time in 18 years after they defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers 24-22.
On the first play of the fourth quarter, the Browns took a commanding 24-9 lead. Taking advantage of a short field set up by M.J. Stewart’s interception of Mason Rudolph, the Browns needed four plays to cash in. Jarvis Landry scored a rushing touchdown from three yards out. It was the Browns second touchdown in less than four minutes.
The Steelers made a furious comeback in the fourth quarter. After the Browns scored, the Steelers struck back as Rudolph passed it to Chase Claypool for a 28-yard pass for the touchdown to make it a 24-16 Browns lead.
The Steelers with under two minutes remaining, they scored again after Rudolph passed to JuJu Smith-Schuster for a two-yard touchdown pass to make it 24-22. In order to force a tie, the Steelers needed to attempt and complete the two-point conversion, but they failed.
With the win, the Browns are in the playoffs and will face the Steelers once again next week in the Wild Card Playoffs.
Mayfield leads a badly needed touchdown drive in the third quarter. The Browns quarterback pulled it down and ran 28 yards to the Steeler 14 yard line. Three plays later he found Austin Hooper in the end zone for a 17-9 lead. It broke a string of nine unanswered points by the Steelers, who had been edging closer and closer with a series of field goals.
The Browns lead 10-6 at the half. They had been in front 10-0, but Pittsburgh rattled off two straight field-goal drives to close the 2nd quarter.
Cody Parkey connected on a 23-yard field goal on the Browns first drive of the second quarter to give the team a 10-0 lead. The team went 70 yards in 10 plays but came up short on three tries from inside the 10-yard line. The big play of the drive came when Rashard Higgins hauled in a 42-yard bomb from Mayfield.
The Browns drew first blood on their first drive. A six-play, 85-yard march that Chubb finished with a 47-yard dash to the end zone.
The Browns look to end an 18-year playoff drought on Sunday when they take on Pittsburgh at First Energy Stadium. A win would send Cleveland to the playoffs for the first time since the 2002 season.
COVID has been the story of the week for the Browns. Their practice facility in Berea was closed multiple times because of positive tests. The team will be without several assistant coaches and players.
Earlier this week, the team ruled out their best cornerback Denzel Ward, along with linebackers B.J. Goodson and Malcolm Smith and safety Andrew Sendejo. On Saturday night they put cornerback Kevin Johnson on the COVID list as well.
With Ward and Johnson out, the Browns will be without two of their top three cornerbacks. Robert Jackson, M.J. Stewart Jr., and Tavierre Thomas should all see much more playing time than usual.
Missing assistant coaches include offensive line coach Bill Callahan, assistant line coach Scott Peters and wide receivers coach Chad O’Shea. O’Shea will be replaced by Callie Brownson, who earlier this season became the first female to handle in-game sideline coaching duties in an NFL game. Assistant Ryan Cordell will take over for Callahan.