Steelers vs. Browns doesn’t deserve vaunted language. It wasn’t a battle in a labored metaphorical sense, it was a drunken 3 a.m. fight in the parking lot of a Denny’s where unless you were personally invested in the combatants there was no winner.
There was also no literal winner.
But, we did have a scrappy little slugger that gets to say they didn’t lose on Sunday and the Cleveland Browns (and also the Steelers) are big-time tie-ers! This is how the losing streak ends, it’s how it was supposed to end — not with a bang, but a wet fart in the rain that managed to not only be encouraging, but suck all hope out of the air in one fell swoop.
How the heck did the Browns come so close?
The simple answer is to say they made plays when it mattered. A few critical moments in the fourth quarter almost turned the game into a nightmare for Pittsburgh.
James Conner fumbles, Browns score
Up to this point Conner was playing incredibly well, but a fumble on the 18-yard line set up a Carlos Hyde touchdown that cut the lead to 21-14.
.@elguapo punches it in from one-yard out#PITvsCLE pic.twitter.com/UfV5J4j02C— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) September 9, 2018
It’s not fair to blame Conner for anything, as he was really the only reason the Steelers were in this game to begin with — but that fumble was the catalyst for what would come.
Myles Garrett’s sack fumble.
On the ensuing drive Garrett took down Ben Roethlisberger for the second time, and his second forced fumble of the day. It didn’t give the Browns quite as good field position as their first turnover, but there was a chance.
With 1:27 left in the game there was a chance. The Browns didn’t manage to score off this sack, but it was a tempo shift. After a 3-and-out Cleveland stopped the Steelers again, which brings us to ...
All day the Browns had struggled to get anything special in the air, until it was time for Josh Gordon to be special.
OH MY WORD @JOSH_GORDONXII#PITvsCLE pic.twitter.com/rDt6W38MMe— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) September 9, 2018
Can they do it?!
The Browns had one more shot before the end of the game to win this thing, and then Tyrod Taylor threw an interception.
End of regulation — Steelers: 21, Browns: 21
Let’s go to overtime!
Overtime ended up being just as bananas as the end of regulation, so let’s lightning round this thing because nobody expected it to come to this.
- Browns win the coin toss and do nothing.
- Steelers get the ball back and do nothing.
- Jabril Peppers calls for a fair catch with, like, 25 yards of daylight because even he knows what’s happening in this situation.
- Browns do nothing.
- Steelers do a little something, then miss the field goal to win.
- Browns get the ball back and only manage to hold onto the ball for 14 seconds before doing nothing.
- Steelers get the ball again and THE BROWNS DO SOMETHING! A forced fumble on Rothlisberger gives them the ball and everything is coming up Milhouse!
JOE. SCHOBERT. #PITvsCLE pic.twitter.com/QwZu2iSuhy— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) September 9, 2018
- The Browns need a chip shot to win, and they miss the field goal.
— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) September 9, 2018
- The Steelers do nothing.
- Nobody wins.
The Browns are +5 in takeaways today. Since the Browns returned to the NFL, teams with a turnover margin of +5 or better in a game are 132-4-1. The Browns are responsible for two of those losses and the tie.— Bill Barnwell (@billbarnwell) September 9, 2018
The perfect ending.