Browns beat Steelers to end 18-year playoff drought

Baker Mayfield throws for 196 yards and one touchdown while Nick Chubb passes 1,000 yards rushing on the season as the Cleveland Browns beat the Pittsburgh Steelers, led by Mason Rudolph at quarterback, to seal their return to the playoffs after 18 years.

Last Updated: 03/01/21 9:43pm

1:15
The Browns made it to the playoffs for the first time since 2002 after stopping the Steelers making a two-point attempt to take it to overtime.
The Browns made it to the playoffs for the first time since 2002 after stopping the Steelers making a two-point attempt to take it to overtime.

The Cleveland Browns buried 18 years of hurt as they clinched their first playoff berth since 2002 behind first-year head coach Kevin Stefanski with a 24-22 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers on the final day of the regular season. 

Pittsburgh threatened late heartbreak when JuJu Smith-Schuster’s touchdown moved them within two points with a minute-and-a-half remaining before the failed two-point conversion allowed the Browns to run down the clock.

Baker Mayfield spoke of a “win or go home” playoff-esque mentality entering the game, and the Browns quarterback lived up to it as he finished 17-of-27 passing for 196 yards and one touchdown alongside Nick Chubb’s first 100-yard game since November.

His opposite number Mason Rudolph flashed glimpses of his deep-ball ability but struggled to convince of his credentials as a long-term successor to Ben Roethlisberger, who was rested alongside center Maurkice Pouncey, defensive tackle Cam Heyward and pass rusher TJ Watt.

  • Browns passing: Baker Mayfield, 17/27, 196 yards, 1 TD
  • Rushing leader: Nick Chubb, 14 carries, 108 yards, 1 TD
  • Receiving leader: Rashard Higgins, two catches, 55 yards

0:39
Nick Chubb darted through the Steelers defense to claim a 47-yard rushing touchdown.
Nick Chubb darted through the Steelers defense to claim a 47-yard rushing touchdown.

Chubb surpassed 1,000 yards rushing on the season with a 47-yard touchdown run on the Browns’ opening drive, punching a hole to the right before making Minkah Fitzpatrick miss with a cut inside and racing away to the end zone.

A lacklustre Rudolph and a lifeless Steelers run game had nothing in reply as Cody Parkey’s 23-yard field goal extended Cleveland’s advantage after Mayfield had connected with Rashard Higgins for a 44-yard pickup down the sideline.

The Steelers had Fitzpatrick to thank earlier in the drive as he tracked Mayfield’s eyes brilliantly to break up a would-be touchdown pass to tight end David Njoku.

Roethlisberger’s backup finally hit on a perfectly-weighted deep ball to Diontae Johnson for a gain of 41 yards, followed up by Josh Dobbs’ 13-yard run until the Steelers were forced to settle for a 29-yard field goal from Matthew Wright, who cut the lead again with back-to-back 46-yard field goals either side of half-time.

0:42
Baker Mayfield found Austin Hooper in plenty of space to increase the Browns’ lead over the Steelers.
Baker Mayfield found Austin Hooper in plenty of space to increase the Browns’ lead over the Steelers.
  • Steelers passing: Mason Rudolph, 22/39, 315 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT
  • Rushing leader: James Conner, nine carries, 37 yards
  • Receiving leader: Chase Claypool, five catches, 101 yards, 1 TD

Scoring summary

FIRST QUARTER
Steelers 0-7 Browns Nick Chubb 47-yard rushing TD (extra point)
SECOND QUARTER
Steelers 0-10 Browns Cody Parkey 23-yard field goal
Steelers 3-10 Browns Matthew Wright 29-yard field goal
Steelers 6-10 Browns Matthew Wright 46-yard field goal
THIRD QUARTER
Steelers 9-10 Browns Matthew Wright 46-yard field goal
Steelers 9-17 Browns Baker Mayfield two-yard TD pass to Austin Hooper (extra point)
FOURTH QUARTER
Steelers 9-24 Browns Jarvis Landry three-yard rushing TD (extra point)
Steelers 16-24 Browns Mason Rudolph 28-yard TD pass to Chase Claypool (extra point)

The Browns woke up in the third quarter with an eight-play drive ending in a two-yard touchdown catch from tight end Austin Hooper after Mayfield had converted on third-and-five with a 14-yard toss to Njoku before scrambling for a 28-yard run.

Jarvis Landry ran in a three-yard touchdown shortly after as Cleveland punished a Rudolph interception gifted to MJ Stewart, whose 30-yard return put the Browns deep in Steelers territory.

0:48
Chase Claypool made a tough catch look easy for a Steelers touchdown.
Chase Claypool made a tough catch look easy for a Steelers touchdown.

Chase Claypool kept the Steelers in it when he won his wrestle with Terrance Mitchell to haul in a stunning 28-yard touchdown catch, setting the record for most receptions by a rookie in franchise history.

Cleveland survived a late scare when Rudolph fired to Smith-Schuster for a two-yard touchdown to make it 24-22 with 1.26 to play, only to fail on the two-point conversion as the Browns chewed down the clock to see out a famous win.

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Source : Sky Sports