Cleveland Browns overcome historical past and adversity to win first playoff sport for 25 years

So the weekend conflict with division rivals Pittsburgh Steelers had all of the earmarks of one other painful night for the long-suffering Browns followers.

Nevertheless, led by superstars Baker Mayfield and Myles Garrett — and helped by common Steelers errors — the Browns raced right into a 28-Zero first quarter lead, ultimately profitable 48-37 within the first spherical of the NFL playoffs. Now it is the Browns’ flip to dish out the exhausting knocks.

It was the franchise’s first postseason victory since 1994, and after every week the place the workforce may solely follow as soon as due to Covid-19 protocols, performing head coach Mike Priefer praised the workforce’s resilience.
“I informed them after the sport … I love them a lot and I respect them,” particular groups coordinator Priefer stated.

“They’ve had a lot adversity by way of schedule modifications — I do know everyone has had adversity and I’m not making an attempt to say we had any extra adversity than anyone else — however on the finish of the day, this was a troublesome week and a playoff week, however they by no means batted a watch.”

Mayfield celebrates as he runs off the field after defeating the Pittsburgh Steelers.

‘The Browns is the Browns’

Browns followers and gamers alike had been understandably elated when the workforce secured their first playoff beginning since 2002 final Sunday.

Nevertheless, for a fanbase so accustomed to essentially the most heartbreaking eventualities — with painful losses and devasting accidents — it was maybe unsurprising when head coach Kevin Stefanski and All-Professional guard Joel Bitonio examined constructive for Covid-19 on Tuesday, that means they had been ineligible to take part in Sunday’s sport.

And in his pre-game press convention, Steelers huge receiver Juju Smith-Schuster referenced the Browns’ painful historical past and that this yr’s workforce isn’t any completely different than earlier editions, saying: “The Browns is the Browns.”

However the Browns emphatically put these demons to mattress and after scoring a landing on the primary snap of the sport after an errant snap sailed over Ben Roethlisberger’s head, they raced right into a 28-point lead, the largest first-quarter lead in NFL playoff historical past.

Roethlisberger throws a pass during the second half against the  Browns.

The Browns protection intercepted Roethlisberger 4 occasions, together with twice within the first quarter, because the Steelers’ battled a double-digit lead for everything of the night time. Actually, Roethlisberger grew to become the primary quarterback ever to throw 4 touchdowns and 4 interceptions in a playoff sport.

Mayfield completed with 263 yards and three touchdowns within the first playoff sport of his profession as, regardless of the Steelers mounting a second-half comeback, the 25-year-old quarterback managed to steer the Browns to their historic win.

As Browns gamers ran off the sphere in Pittsburgh, they mocked Juju Smith-Schuster’s pre-game feedback, with Mayfield yelling “The Browns going to be the Browns!” on his approach to the locker-room.

Whereas Stefanski could not be there to have fun in particular person, he — and different lacking gamers — had been concerned within the celebrations just about by way of Zoom.

“To have these guys there in our celebration was nice,” Mayfield stated. “The very best factor about it was the mentality of everyone saying: ‘Hey, we didn’t simply wish to simply win this sport.’
Eric Ebron of the Steelers is pursued by Garrett.

“Like I stated final week, it’s simply the stepping stone to the place we ultimately wish to go. For lots of men, it was an enormous win — my first playoff win, for starters — however no one right here is happy but.”

The Browns will now journey to Kansas Metropolis to face the No. 1 seed and defending Tremendous Bowl champions Kansas Metropolis Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium within the AFC Divisional Spherical subsequent Sunday.

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