Cleveland Browns End NFL’s Longest Current Playoff Drought

Browns Beat Steelers With Browns Backdrop

  • The Cleveland Browns defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers 24-22 on Sunday.
  • With the win, the Browns are headed to the playoffs for the first time since 2002 season.
  • Cleveland has opened as a +3.5 point betting underdogs against the Steelers in their wild card game on January 10, 2021 in Pittsburgh.

The Cleveland Browns ended the NFL’s current longest playoff drought on Sunday with a 24-22 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers at the FirstEnergy Stadium.

Nick Chubb and Jarvis Landry scored rushing touchdowns while QB Baker Mayfield threw a two-yard strike to Austin Hooper in the third period. But the Browns could not put the Steelers away until the closing seconds of the game.

Cleveland forced Steelers QB Mason Rudolph to overthrow a 2-point conversion try after the Steelers had cut the lead to two in the final minute of the game. Browns tight end Stephon Carlson then recovered the onside kick and Baker Mayfield dove for a first down to seal the win.

Longest Playoff Drought is Over

With the victory, the Browns will head to the playoffs for the first time since the 2002 season, in their only other postseason appearance of the century. That game also came against the Steelers who beat the Browns 36-33 on January 5, 2003 . Pittsburgh also defeated Cleveland in 1994 when the Browns were coached by Bill Belichick. Now, the Browns will have to go through the Steelers again, if they are to keep their season alive.

Cleveland will head to Pittsburgh next weekend in the wild card round of the 2021 NFL Playoffs. In doing so, they will try to end another ignominious NFL streak. The Browns have lost 17 consecutive games in Pittsburgh, the third longest losing streak against a single opponent in NFL history. They have opened the game as +3.5 betting underdogs at the spread line and are a +165 in the current moneyline at online sportsbook BetOnline.

Battling COVID-19 related Issues

Cleveland had been battling COVID-19 related issues all-week long. The Browns had to close their practice facility four times in the last eight days and were forced to cancel their practice last Thursday due to contact tracing procedures. Last Friday, their equipment staff turned the indoor fieldhouse to makeshift dressing area before practice as they were forbidden to use their locker rooms.

Then linebacker B.J. Goodson, tight end Harrison Bryant, linebacker Malcolm Smith, safety Andrew Sendejo, and cornerback Denzel Ward all tested positive for COVID-19 and were declared out of Sunday’s game. Aside from the five starters, Cleveland was also without offensive assistant coaches Chad O’Shea and Bill Callahan, due to COVID-19 protocols.

But the Browns got a big break because the Steelers rested their key players including quarterback Ben Roethlisberger after already clinching the AFC North Division title. Pittsburgh though gave them a tough fight but in the end, the Browns did just enough to hang on and end the NFL’s longest playoff drought.

Onward and Upward

During the course of the week, everyone wondered if there would be any animosity between Cleveland defensive end Myles Garrett and Pittsburgh quarterback Mason Rudolph. It can be recalled that last year, Garrett was meted out a season-ending suspension after he swung a helmet to Rudolph’s head. Garrett later accused Rudolph of inciting him with a racial slur, which Rudolph has repeatedly denied. That incident was merely a footnote on Sunday.

Rudolph completed 22 of 39 passes for 315 yards with two touchdowns and one interceptions. His 2-yard TD pass to Juju Smith-Schuster with 1:23 left in the game pulled the Steelers to within 22-24. However, Rudolph overthrew his 2-point attempt pass to rookie Chase Claypool and the Browns ran out the clock to hold on for the win. On the other hand, Garrett has a quiet night with four tackles and no sacks.

After the game, Garrett and went to Rudolph in the Steelers dugout and told the QB “good game” and “see you next week”. Rudolph later went to social media to post a photo of him and Garrett with the caption “onward and upward”. Regardless of where you stood in the helmet incident, this was a good move by Garrett and should bury the issue.

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