If you were one of the fans who wanted the Cleveland Browns to have the first overall pick in next spring’s NFL Draft, you couldn’t have written a better script than today’s 27-24 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Include us in that group. We are a fan of the team, but since they are building from the ground up, and have suffered through a painful 1-15 season, why not be all in about having the first selection in the draft.
We understood the Steelers were rested their three most important offensive weapons in QB Ben Roethlisburger, RB Le’Veon Bell, and WR Antonio Brown, so we certainly didn’t want Hue Jackson’s crew to get buried.
But the four turnovers cost Cleveland, who really played better today, that is, outside of giving the ball away.
The Browns took a 14-0 lead in the first half, moving the ball with ease, and defensively applying pressure to Steelers’ back up QB Landry Jones.
Pittsburgh crept to within a touchdown by halftime, and it the second half, the Browns treated the ball like it was a greased pigskin.
We wanted the Browns to show they haven’t quit on Jackson, and that some of the young players have made progress, and they did just that, but still managed to lose, thereby securing the first pick in the draft.
Cleveland outgained the black and gold, 437 yards to 312, and several players had good performances, outside, of course, of turning the ball over.
Isaiah Crowell had his fourth 100 yard rushing game of the year, gaining 152 yards on 19 attempts, but his critical fourth quarter fumble, with the Browns staring a chip shot go ahead field goal in the face, allowed the game to go into overtime.
Briean Boddy-Calhoun, returned an intercepted pass 67 yards, but fumbled on the two yard line, so instead of a point blank touchdown, the Steelers regained the ball on a touchback.
The rookie was also the victim on the game winning TD throw to Cobi Hamilton.
Robert Griffin III showed flashes, completing 29 of 40 throws for 232 yards and his first two TD throws as a Brown, but he threw a critical interception at the end of the first half, and fumbled in the second half.
Griffin led the Browns to eight third down conversions in 15 tries, one of their better marks of the season.
Terrelle Pryor caught seven passes for 94 yards, getting 1,000 yards receiving in his first full season as a wide receiver.
Rookie TE Seth DeValve scored on a 12 yard pass from Griffin, and his play over the last four or five weeks, should have the organization wanting to see more.
LB Christian Kirksey had 11 tackles, including a sack, closing out a very good season.
Another rookie Carl Nassib had a sack (when Jones tripped over a lineman’s foot), and yet another first year player, Emmanuel Ogbah sniffed out a reverse and dropped the ball carrier for a 12 yard loss.
The Browns looked like an NFL team every where except on the right end of the scoreboard, and for the good of the franchise going forward, that’s probably the best thing, right?
In overtime, Cleveland had a first and goal at the Steelers’ 2, but couldn’t get in the end zone. The curious thing was they didn’t try to run, despite averaging seven yards a carry.
With the Steelers playing a lot of substitutes, there wasn’t really anything to be gained by a win today. So, although we mentioned all these good things, how do we know what would have happened had Pittsburgh been playing their regulars.
The downside is having to hear four months of who should/will the Browns take with the first overall pick. To be sure, the players will appear and disappear as the flavor of the month.
The consensus best player is Texas A& M pass rusher Myles Garrett. Hopefully, the Browns do their homework, don’t trade down, and don’t out think themselves.
Speeding up the building process depends on getting impact players, which the first overall pick should be.