The Cleveland Browns lost their eleventh game of the season, falling to the Pittsburgh Steelers, 24-9, at FirstEnergy Stadium on Sunday. The Browns had a chance to possibly earn their first win of the season, but their offense was unable to do much of anything against the Steelers defense. In the loss, the Browns were led through the air by quarterback Cody Kessler, who completed 7-of-14 passes for 128 yards and an interception before leaving the game with a concussion. On the ground, quarterback Josh McCown led the horrible rushing attack with just 11 yards. The top receiving target for the Browns was receiver Terrelle Pryor, who caught five passes for 97 yards.
The main issue with Cleveland on Sunday was not their defense, but their offense. The Browns defense played their hearts out, holding a potent Steelers offense to just 313 total yards of offense and three points in the second half. The Browns offense was awful. The quarterback position is a mess. Both Kessler and McCown hold onto the ball far too long, which contributed to the Steelers eight sacks in the game. The Browns offense played an average defense, but couldn’t do anything on the ground and little through the air. Here is a rundown of the game:
The first half was all Steelers. Both teams had just three drives in the first half. This was due in large part to the Steelers first two drives of the half. On their opening possession, Pittsburgh drove 82 yards on 16 plays to get a field goal, taking nine minutes and 18 seconds off the clock. On their second possession, the Steelers drove 68 yards on 16 plays for a second field goal. That second drive took nine minutes and 28 seconds off the clock. The Browns defense bent, but did not break for most of the half. However, on the last drive of the half, the Browns allowed a touchdown (and two-point conversion) to make the halftime deficit 14-0. The defense could have held the Steelers to just six points prior the heading to the locker room, but the Browns were called for two penalties with no time remaining at the end of the second quarter, giving the Steelers two untimed downs and allowing them to score a touchdown.
The Browns offense was just as bad as the defense in the first half. They had three possessions that totaled just 50 yards. The offense could only hang onto the ball for nine minutes and 23 seconds and called just 17 plays in the opening two quarters. Nothing went right for the offense; they couldn’t run the ball, nor throw the ball. Kessler struggled, throwing for 60 yards and an interception while completing 3-of-7 passes. He was sacked three times. At the half, the Browns somehow only trailed by two touchdowns, while not being able to put any points on the board.
The third quarter saw the Browns and Steelers trade field goals, making the score 17-3 heading into the final quarter. Somehow, Cleveland’s defense – that lacks pretty much everything – was able to thwart another Steelers’ red zone appearance, holding quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and Pittsburgh’s offense to their third field goal of the game. The Browns offense finally put together a good drive, but they too struggled to punch it in when they reached the red zone.
The Browns made it interesting in the fourth quarter, at least. After a big hit forced Kessler to leave the game with a concussion, Josh McCown came in and put together a touchdown drive to cut the deficit to 17-9. The orange and brown’s defense stepped up once again, holding the Steelers offense to no points in the final 15 minutes. But, McCown reverted back to his old self after his touchdown drive. He held onto the ball too long, allowing the Steelers to get to him in the backfield, which led to plenty of sacks and hard hits. The game was cemented when McCown was stripped in the endzone and the Steelers defense came up with the ball to score the team’s second touchdown of the game. The Browns lost once again, 24-9.
They move to 0-11 on the season, continuing their search for their first victory of the year. Cleveland plays the New York Giants next week at FirstEnergy Stadium.