Cleveland Browns made the biggest upset in this year’s NFL playoffs, eliminating the Pittsburgh Steelers in the Wild Card, 48-37.
They would post the first win in the postseason since 1995, with it coming against the big division rival, who was undefeated after the opening 11 games of the regular part of the year.
What makes this success even more significant is the fact that Browns traveled to Pittsburgh without the head coach Kevin Stefanski, G Joel Bitonio, and Denzel Ward, who were all left back home due to COVID-19 safety protocols.
This was the first win for the Browns at Heinz Field following 17 straight losses, and it couldn’t come in the better moment.
“We believed,” quarterback Baker Mayfield said. “People on the outside don’t matter to us. It’s on the inside and we believed the whole time, and that’s all that matters.”
The Browns were up 28-0 in the opening period, which is fantastic, having in mind that Pittsburgh has the best defense in the NFL. However, Cleveland’s inspiration, combined with the Steelers feeling the heat after some bad games played lately, provided one of the most remarkable openings in the NFL playoffs ever.
We need to say that Ben Roethlisberger once again played disastrously and that those who believe that the two-time Super Bowl champion should retire are close to the truth. Big Ben’s dreadful appearance in the opening 15 minutes, which saw him throwing two picks, was the key reason for this loss.
He would end the night with 501 yards and four touchdowns, but also four intercepted passes. In the game-defining moment, with the Steelers having some sort of momentum, he failed to deliver, either by going three-and-out or throwing another pick.
It is most definitely obvious that Big Ben is no longer an advantage for the Steelers, but a liability they need to get rid of. So many times this year, we saw him creating problems for his team, especially in the crucial moments of the games.
“We didn’t do enough. We didn’t position them in enough good circumstances. We didn’t make enough plays in the critical moments. We were a group that died on the vine,” Mike Tomlin, Pittsburgh’s head coach, stated following the game.
The Steelers’ defense had no chance whatsoever of stopping the fired up Browns in the first period, as they found themselves shocked and under heavy pressure for playing constantly.
One more thing needs to be said, and that is an equally terrible performance from James Conner, who had 11 rushes for 37 yards and a TD. The RB had a pretty pale season for his standards.
JuJu Smith-Schuster had 13 receptions for 157 yards and a score, Diontae johnson 11 for 117. Eric Ebron caught one TD pass, while rookie Chase Claypool posted two.
For the Browns. Mayfield threw three TD passes and 263 yards. Jarvis Landry, Nick Chubb, and Austin Hooper all had one TD reception each. Kareem Hunt delivered two TD rushes. Nick Chubb had 145 rushing yards on the ground.
The Browns are heading for Kansas City to face the Super Bowl champions, the Chiefs, in the next round. Buffalo Bills and the Baltimore Ravens will clash in the second AFC Divisional round game.
As for the Steelers, they are ahead of one very important free agency during which Mike Tomlin has to make certain moves and deal with some questions.
Nikola Velickovic is a sports journalist who loves to write and read on all sports. Nikola contributes both news updates and functions as a sports breaking news writer at WagerBop.