The parade is a go. The Cleveland Browns lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers, 28-24, to go winless at 0-16. The Browns played against the Steelers backups, nonetheless the Browns could not find a victory and so we begin another offseason of questions. Will Hue Jackson be back as head coach? Will Jimmy Haslam still be owner by the start of next season? Who will general manager John Dorsey select at No. 1? Who is the quarterback of the future and how will the position look at the start of the 2018 season? There are so many more questions, but the offseason is here where we will get all these answers. Before we turn the page, let’s take a look at how the Browns finished off the perfect season.
Here is the summary for the first quarter. The Browns had negative 16 yards of total offense, while the Steelers had 141 yards of total offense. Quarterback DeShone Kizer did not complete a pass. But, somehow the Browns were only down 7-0 after one quarter. The defense kept the Browns sort of in it with an interception and a goal line stand that turned the Steelers over on downs. But, the first quarter pretty much summed up the Browns 2017 season.
After getting great field position on a bad punt from Browns punter Britton Colquitt at the beginning of the second quarter, the Steelers quickly notched their second touchdown of the game in three plays covering 28 yards. But, the Browns responded. Kizer hooked up with receiver Josh Gordon on a beautiful 54-yard pass that set up a touchdown run by running back Duke Johnson. In Browns fashion, Pittsburgh drove 75 yards right down the field for a touchdown, moving the score to 21-7. The Browns looked to have forced the Steelers to kick a field goal, but a questionable roughing the passer call on Myles Garrett gave Pittsburgh new life on the drive. However, the Browns responded once again with another big pass from Kizer. Kizer threw a perfect pass to receiver Rashard Higgins, who took the slant pass 56-yards for a touchdown. Following the Browns touchdown drive, the only threat of a score for the rest of the half from either team came from Pittsburgh, but that drive was thwarted by a strip sack from Garrett to end the threat. So, the Browns trailed 21-14 at the half.
The Browns opened the second half with a great drive. In seven plays, Cleveland drove 68 yards to the endzone, capped off by another touchdown reception by Higgins. The tie game did not last, though. On the ensuing kickoff, Steelers receiver Juju Smith-Schuster returned the kick 96 yards for a go-ahead touchdown. The Browns would answer with a field goal on the next drive to cut the deficit to 28-24. Kizer used his legs to help maneuver the offense into field goal position. With one quarter to play in the game and the season, the Browns trailed 28-24.
After forcing a punt, the Browns had the looks of a big play coming, but a turnover ended the threat. Kizer threw a screen pass to Duke Johnson, who took the screen 30 yards. However, Johnson was stripped at the end of the play, wiping away what could have been a possible go-ahead drive. The Browns defense remained strong and stopped the Steelers again on the ensuing drive. Though, the Browns would take over and commit another crushing turnover. This time Kizer threw a pick, causing Cleveland to lose another chance of trying to take the lead. The Browns defense did not give up and stopped the Steelers again to give the Browns offense one last chance to take the lead. Will this be the drive to end the losing streak? The Browns started the series well, driving all the way down to the Pittsburgh 27-yard line where they were faced with a 4th-and-2 situation. After taking the snap on the fourth down play, Kizer eluded the Pittsburgh pass rush and scrambled to the sideline where he found an open receiver, Corey Coleman, beyond the sticks. But, Coleman dropped the pass that hit him right in his hands. The drop turned the ball over on downs and all but sealed the loss. The defense could not make the stop to get the ball back and so the Browns lost their 16th game of the season.
The Browns are now on the clock in one of the most important offseasons in the new Browns era. With the loss by the Houston Texans today, the Browns own the No. 1 and No. 4 picks in the 2018 NFL Draft. The Browns have five picks in the first two rounds. This is a draft where the future of the organization can be changed. The pressure is on for general manager John Dorsey to get the picks right, especially the quarterback selection. Let the real games begin!