CLEVELAND– Long after the video game had actually lastly ended, fans spent time FirstEnergy Arena, taking selfies and pictures of one another with the field in the background. This was a minute they had actually been waiting on given that the 2002 season.
” I’m truly simply delighted for our fans,” stated first-year head coach Kevin Stefanski. “They deserve this. And we enjoy to provide this to them.”
The minute, nevertheless, didn’t come quickly.
Pittsburgh’s Mason Rudolph tossed a goal pass to JuJu Smith-Schuster with 1:26 staying to put the Steelers within 2 points of connecting ball game. Rudolph’s two-point effort, nevertheless, cruised over the head of Chase Claypool.
Browns tight end Stephen Carlson then recuperated Pittsburgh’s onside shot, and quarterback Baker Mayfield dove for an initially down to seal the win. Mayfield right away leapt up and tossed his fist with whatever he had, prior to the crowd, limited to 12,000 since of the COVID-19 pandemic, leapt around as “Home of Discomfort” roared through the arena speakers.
Mayfield, who 3 years back at the NFL integrate stated he might be the quarterback to lastly turn the Browns around, was the last gamer to leave the field. He blew a kiss to the fans with both hands while leaving through the tunnel.
” It’s a minute I’ll absolutely always remember,” Mayfield stated. “The sensation of strolling off the field, the energy in the arena, they’re playing ‘Cleveland Rocks’ … for it to be that loud with a restricted quantity of fans, it was an unique minute for us.”
Cleveland’s success establishes a first-round rematch with the Steelers next weekend in Pittsburgh. Cleveland’s just other playoff look this century likewise was available in Pittsburgh, where the Steelers won 36-33.
” We’re not pleased,” Mayfield stated. “We anticipated to be here. We worked exceptionally tough to get here and we’re delighted to have the opportunity to be in the playoffs.”
The Browns dominated in Sunday’s make-or-break face-off versus the Steelers, regardless of fighting problems connected to COVID-19 all week.
Cleveland needed to close down its practice center 4 times in the previous 8 days, and was required to cancel practice Thursday while carrying out contact tracing. Friday, the Browns weren’t even enabled to utilize their locker space, as the devices personnel turned the indoor fieldhouse into a makeshift dressing location prior to practice.
In the recently, linebacker B.J. Goodson, tight end Harrison Bryant, linebacker Malcolm Smith, security Andrew Sendejo and cornerback Denzel Ward– all beginners– checked favorable for the infection, knocking them out of Sunday’s video game. The Browns were likewise without offending assistant coaches Chad O’Shea and Expense Callahan, due to COVID-19 procedures, too.
However versus the Steelers, who rested numerous crucial gamers, consisting of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, having actually currently clinched the AFC North Department, the Browns did simply enough to hang on for the win.
Nick Chubb and Jarvis Landry hurried for goals, and Mayfield gotten in touch with tight end Austin Hooper for a 2-yard rating late in the 3rd quarter. The Browns, nevertheless, could not put Pittsburgh away till the very end, as Rudolph passed for a game-high 315 lawns and 2 goals.
“[We] batted difficulty through the week,” Stefanski stated, “and through the video game.”
The last time Cleveland made the playoffs, Stefanski, 38, was a respectable reference All-Ivy League security for Penn. Mayfield and protective end Myles Garrett, Cleveland’s back-to-back No. 1 total choices from 2017 and 2018, remained in elementary school.
” There are numerous Browns [fans] all over the world who were so delighted to see us get this win,” Garrett stated. “Lastly enter into the dance.”
After the video game, Garrett looked for Rudolph near the Steelers’ tunnel. The 2 had actually not spoken given that Garrett swung a helmet at Rudolph’s head, leading to a season-ending suspension. Garrett later on implicated Rudolph of prompting him with a racial slur, which Rudolph consistently has actually rejected. Though the event cast a pall over in 2015’s conference, it was hardly a footnote throughout the video game Sunday.
” I simply informed him great video game, informed him he played a hell of a video game and we’ll see y’ all in a week,” Garrett stated of the exchange, which Rudolph verified later, too. “He succeeded and had the ability to make some huge plays for them.”
Rudolph published a picture of him and Garrett on Instagram with the caption “Onward And Up” after the video game.
To keep its season going, Cleveland will need to beat another ignominious streak. The Browns have actually lost 17 straight video games in Pittsburgh– the third-longest roadway losing streak, according to Elias, versus a single challenger in NFL history.
The Steelers likewise removed Cleveland from its previous 2 playoff looks, in 2002 and likewise in 1994, when Expense Belichick coached the Browns.
” We remain in the dance,” Stefanski stated. “However we have a great deal of work to do. We wish to keep this thing going.”