The Browns made it clear from the moment they landed their first playoff spot in 18 years, they weren’t happy.
A nationwide prime-time audience got to see exactly what that meant on Sunday on a historic night that Browns fans will not soon forget. And if they were a little late, they missed out on one of the best playoff first quarterbacks the NFL has ever seen.
With four quick touchdowns, the Browns made NFL history with 28 points in the first quarter, the most points in the playoffs, and racked up a few other accolades along the way to secure the franchise’s first win. in the playoffs since 1994.
Perhaps more importantly, however, the Browns’ 48-37 win over the Steelers was another display of the kind of determination that brought the team to this point in the NFL calendar. Without their head coach, without a slew of key contributors, and with just one training under their belt after a week that was significantly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Browns dug deep and played the kind of opportunistic complementary football that wins January matches.
The Browns advance to the AFC Division Round and will face the Kansas City No.1 Series Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium. Kick-off is scheduled for Sunday at 3:05 p.m. on CBS.
The Cleveland defense forced five turnovers, tied for their all-season high, with three of them in the first quarter. The Browns have fought off Ben Roethlisberger four times and forced the veteran QB to single-handedly try to bring the Steelers back from a double-digit deficit they have faced most of the night.
Baker Mayfield shot with a quick touchdown pass to Jarvis Landry and finished with 263 yards and three touchdowns in the first playoff game of his career.
Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt were a force from start to finish, and they were just as dangerous on the ground as they were in the air. Chubb rushed for 76 yards and added 69 in the air, most of it on a 40-yard screen touchdown early in the fourth quarter. Hunt scored twice while amassing a total of 61 offensive yards.
Landry led all of the Browns’ receivers with five catches for 92 yards and one touchdown. Austin Hooper added seven catches for 46 yards and one touchdown.
Roethlisberger threw for 501 yards and four touchdowns, but the Steelers never drew under 12 despite dominating possession time and beating the Browns, 553-390.
It started with the very first shot of the game, and it only got better from there in the Browns’ historic 28-point first quarter.
Steelers C Maurkice Pouncey flew the first shot of the game high over Ben Roethlisberger’s head, and no one got their hands on it until the 2-yard line. The ball squirted several times before Browns S Karl Joseph secured it for the game’s stunning opening defensive touchdown.
MJ Stewart got the ball on the Steelers’ next possession when he took out Roethlisberger and put the Browns close to midfield. It only took three games for Cleveland to turn takeout into a touchdown, as Mayfield fired a stride strike at Landry, who sprinted down the field and curled up in the end zone for a touchdown from 40 yards with 9:46 left in the quarter. .
Hunt scored the first of his two touchdowns to cap a six-game, 65-yard practice, working his way into the end zone and dragging a few Steelers with him along the way on an 11-yard touchdown. It came with 4:40 left in the quarterback, but the Browns didn’t finish.
Sheldrick Redwine dove in to intercept Roethlisberger on the next possession, stood up and sent him back to the Steelers 15-yard line. Hunt hit him from 8 yards, giving the Browns a whopping 28 points in the first quarter with 1:56 to lose.
The Steelers broke the shutout with 1:44 to play in the second quarter with a James Conner touchdown, but the Browns provided an immediate response. Needing only 1:10, the Browns drove 64 yards and regained a 28-point advantage on Mayfield’s 7-yard touchdown pass to Hooper.
The Browns finally carried a 25-point advantage in the half after a last-second basket from Chris Boswell.
The Steelers came back strong in the third quarter with back-to-back touchdowns to make Cleveland’s big lead much more manageable.
Roethlisberger and the Steelers moved at a rapid pace and walked almost all of their yards in the air. Eric Ebron hit the first touchdown, a 17-yard, while JuJu Smith-Schuster caught the second, a 5-yard fourth and goal to make it 35-23 with 2:57 left in the third quarter.
Although it floundered a bit in the third quarter, the Cleveland offense woke up big early in the fourth quarter to ease some of the stress.
Mayfield found Landry for a big third conversion with a 17-yard pass, and the Browns were in the end zone a few games later when Chubb took a screen, hit two defensemen and sprinted for the 40-yard touchdown.