The Cleveland Browns’ defense made big plays when it mattered most.
During the first half, the defense held the Steelers to 64 total yards.
Then on what ended up being the Steelers’ final drive of the game, quarterback Kenny Pickett couldn’t complete a pass, leading to a last-second field goal by the Browns to win 13-10 in Cleveland.
“This defense is Cleveland’s A-lister right now, even when things get ugly,” wrote Ashley Bastock, Browns reporter for Cleveland.com.
If the Browns make a playoff run, it’ll be on the shoulders of their defense, she said.
Been thinking about this too. I think Browns making a legit run, him being DPOY front runner, maybe 20-plus sacks. But if Browns make a run they will be doing it bc of their defense https://t.co/dSOOX1nY9U
— Ashley Bastock (@AshleyBastock42) November 19, 2023
The Steelers couldn’t pull off a late game win, as they’ve been adept at doing this season, with the score tied at 10 in the waning minutes. Instead, the Browns took a page out of the Steelers’ playbook.
“They’ve won some ugly games this year and we just had to find a way to win,” said guard Joel Bitonio. “Our defense gave us enough opportunities and figured out a way.”
CBS Sports writer Bryan DeArdo said the “non-existent passing game was a major reason why the Steelers dropped their first game this season against a divisional opponent.” Pickett completed 15 of 28 throws for 106 yards and the Steelers dropped to third in the division behind Cleveland and Baltimore.
“Pittsburgh’s offense is too predictable and poorly executed to win anything of consequence, even if the Steelers have been stacking wins,” he wrote.
Browns are 7-3 for the second time since 1999. Also in 2020.
— Tom Withers (@twithersAP) November 20, 2023
The loss came against the Browns rookie quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson, who made his second NFL start after Deshaun Watson fractured his shoulder.
“I was frustrated,” Thompson-Robinson told Cleveland.com. “I didn’t know how the game was going to end, if I was going to get the ball back or anything like that. So, like I said, just proud again, being able to trust in my defense and my offense and just go out there and do what I have to do.”
The Browns fans cheered for their quarterback — chanting “D-T-R,” according to the Associated Press’ Tom Withers — and Thompson-Robinson was hoarse after the game from calling plays in the huddle.
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“He came through,” Browns coach Kevin Stefanski told Withers. “He made some big plays throughout that drive, made big plays throughout the game. I know it wasn’t perfect at all times, but he came through when it mattered.”
Former Steelers safety Ryan Clark, now an analyst for ESPN, had criticism for his old team, calling it “disgraceful” that the offense didn’t execute while Thompson-Robinson led a game-winning drive.
Disgraceful for the Steelers to lose to this Cleveland Browns’ team with DTR at QB. Not executing down the stretch offensively while DTR leads the game winning drive is inexcusable. Not making any changes is allowing it to happen. They can’t continue to allow IT to happen!!
— Ryan Clark (@Realrclark25) November 19, 2023
First appeared on triblive.com