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Browns look to keep winning as they host the Steelers Sunday

Photo via ESPN

With 14:54 left in the first quarter, the Browns find themselves just down 7, with a score of 17-24, fresh into the fourth quarter, after what would be described by fans as a hard game to watch for the Browns. The Browns start to give the game away script was one that we had seen before, starting themselves in a deep hole, and trying to crawl out.

The Ravens scored on their first two drives, and the slow start was similar to the game in Seattle we had seen just a few weeks ago. When the Browns’ Defense, let Seattle have two touchdowns on their first two drives of the game. Both sides of the ball were off to a horrible start, especially the offense, as quarterback Deshaun Watson had a horrible first 30 minutes of the game. Watson led the offense to 3 failed red zone trips that resulted in field goals, and went 6/17, for 79 yards, and on just his second pass attempt of the game, was picked off by Raven’s safety Kyle Hamilton, and Hamilton returned his interception untouched for a touchdown.

However, the Browns still found themselves in a battle, thanks to a 17-play touchdown drive, where Watson went 7/7 for 43 yards, and Kareem Hunt finished the long drive for a rushing touchdown. The Browns then went for two, and Watson scrambled into the endzone, to put the browns in a one-score game. So, with that being said, there is 14:54 left in the game, Ravens Punter Jordan Stout, punts it away to newly signed return man James Proche, who replaced former return man Donovan Peoples-Jones, who was moved off at the trade deadline. As the punt lands in Proche’s hands, it looks as if he almost looks at the defender running towards him, and while he does that, loses the handle of the ball. The ball is on the ground, both teams are diving on it, while fans and coaches hold their breath. As the dust cleared, and players stood up, it was clear that the Baltimore Ravens had recovered, and the recovery felt like the nail in the coffin, to end the Browns’ hope of winning the game.

All hope for a Brown’s victory felt lost, as the Ravens started their drive on the Browns 12-yard line, and a TD felt inevitable. Well, it was, and after multiple 3rd down stops and an interception that was called back for holding, running back Gus Edwards finally rushed into the endzone, to give the Ravens a 31-17 lead. The game felt lost, and when the Browns’ offense took the field, it felt there was no point, and any hope the Browns had of winning this game was destroyed thanks to the Gus Edwards score. Well, after the Edwards touchdown, fans watched the Browns’ offense over the next 11:34 left in the game, look as good as they have ever seen in the Watson era, and tapped into what felt like a whole different team.

The Browns after the Raven’s touchdown, went on a 7-play, 61-yard drive, capped off by an Elijah Moore receiving TD, his first of the year, to cut the lead to yet again, just one score. Watson through these two drives was 11/11 for 101 yards, and a touchdown, and looked incredible ever since the 2nd half started. Then on the ensuing Baltimore possession, the entire momentum would shift in the stadium, and the tides would turn. On 2nd and 8, Lamar drops back to pass, and the ball is tipped at the line by browns edge rusher Obo Okoronkwo, as the ball goes up in the air, with shades of PJ Walker all over again, this time it favors the browns, and Brown’s corner Greg Newsome comes down with it, and returns it for a pick 6, to cut the lead within one.

The Game was not tied because, cause of shockingly, a missed extra point by Dustin Hopkins, something the Browns have yet to see this year. The Ravens took the field with 8:16 remaining, with a one-point lead, with hopes of a couple of first downs, and a long drive, to end this game. The Ravens got one first down, thanks to an 11-yard Zay Flowers completion, then stalled, thanks to two big Za’Darius Smith tackles, and the Browns would regain possession, with 4:55 remaining.

Watson would be asked to do what the Browns had in mind, when they gave up 3 first-round picks, and paid him the highest guaranteed contract in NFL history, for these moments right here, to lead a game-winning touchdown drive against a divisional rival, in a season-defining game, and he did just that. Watson would have huge completions on 2nd 19 with a completion of 17 yards to Cooper, and multiple key check-downs to running back Jerome Ford. During this drive, he and the offense had two plays that defined the Browns comeback and caused Cleveland to win this game.

On a first and ten, on their own 45-yard line, Watson would drop back to pass, he saw nothing down the field and decided to step up and take off, Watson shook off a Ravens linebacker at the line of scrimmage, and ran for a 16-yard gain, and put the Browns in field goal range. Then on the following down, Watson hands it off to Jerome Ford and looks to end up being a gain of about 5 yards, then the Browns Oline starts pushing, then David Njoku, then wide receiver Elijah Moore, then Left Guard Joel Bitonio, and the Browns turn a Jerome Ford carry from 5 yards to 12, and puts the browns at Baltimore 27 yard line, and in comfortable field goal range.

That play felt like it sucked the entire energy out of Baltimore’s stadium, and it was the momentum and the push the browns have been looking for, over the past three months. Hunt then would rush for a yard, then 5 yards, and on the next play, a Watson kneel, would put the browns at 4th and 5, and would send out kicker Dustin Hopkins, to attempt a 40-yard field goal, to win the game. The ball is kicked, and every Browns fan in the nation can feel their heart banging out of their chest, the kick is up, and good. The Browns completely stunned the Baltimore Ravens, and got their first win in Baltimore, in over 2 years. The sideline erupted, and Browns fans rejoiced, as the miracle happened in their favor, in M&T stadium, in Baltimore, Maryland.

So, the win left the Browns at 3rd in the AFC North, at 6-3, and widened the gap between them and Cincinnati. Though the Browns will have to battle some horrible news they received this week, and find a way to dig deep, and beat a division rival, the Pittsburgh Steelers.

On Wednesday, November 15, at 8:49, Browns fans around the world’s stomachs dropped as their phones, television stations, and radio stations, reported breaking news about the Browns season. The Browns announced early Wednesday morning that during the first half of this past Sunday’s game versus the Baltimore Ravens, Deshaun Watson sustained a “displaced fracture to the glenoid” in his throwing shoulder and will require “immediate surgical repair to avoid further structural damage.” The surgery that will be performed is a season-ending one, and Watson’s 2023-2024 season will be over.

The news on Wednesday morning left Browns fans in a state of paralysis, completely numb to the news they just heard. As the team and fans believed the win against Baltimore on Sunday, was one of the best wins in Browns’ history, since returning to Cleveland in 1999, and the win put the Browns on a great track to end the season, barring a setback, exactly like this. Watson’s game on Sunday left hope in the hearts of fans that he could play as good as he did in the second half of the Ravens game, for the rest of the season. Words cannot describe the sadness and pain that was in Browns fans’ hearts on Wednesday, as just when there was a legit road and path for the browns to make it to the AFC championship, the road seemed to be destroyed.

So, the Browns will pivot, from a quarterback who played an excellent game against the Ravens, to a quarterback who a few weeks ago had a horrible showing against the same team. The Browns will revisit a strategy they used a little under two months ago. The Browns will go too, 5th round rookie quarterback out of UCLA, Dorrian Thompson Robinson, otherwise known as “DTR” to make the start under center for the Cleveland Browns on Sunday. Though fans and the team remember DTR’s last start all too well, even though they would like to forget it. When DTR went up against, ironically, the Baltimore Ravens, he posted just 130 yards passing, had 3 turnovers, and posted the worst QBR that we have seen out of any quarterback in the NFL this season, with 26.4. He also completed just 54.1%, going 19/36, looked completely lost and out of sorts, and looked completely unprepared for the big game.

The Browns hope to tap into the DTR that Browns fans were amazed about in the Pre-Season, just 3 months ago. When DTR set the football world on fire, with his electrifying plays and performances, he displayed against the Commanders, Eagles, and New York Jets. DTR in the Preseason showed incredible rushing upside with his scrambles and elusiveness, had incredible poise in the pocket, and some impressive touchdown throws in the New York and Commanders game. The Browns hope to unlock the DTR they saw in the Preseason and lead their offense group which has looked a lot better over the last month, having scoring performances of 39, 24, 27, and 33.

If DTR can look like the August version of himself in the game on Sunday, the Browns could be looking at their lock starter for the rest of the year. Though DTR will go up against a Steelers defense that should not be taken lightly, as the Steelers have the 11th most team sacks this year with 27, have the 7th most ints this year with 10, and face a coach in Mike Tomlin, who is 24-5 in his career, against rookie quarterbacks. However, this Steelers team has some serious problems of their own and is far away from a great team.

This Steelers team is the classic mold of Steelers teams we have seen in the past. A competitive, hard-fought, scrappy team that plays good defense and is well-coached. However, over the last couple of seasons, this offense has not been something we are used to when we watch Steelers football. It felt like just yesterday, the Steelers were led by soon-to-be hall of fame Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, an All-Pro receiver in Antonio Brown, and a perineal Pro Bowler in Le’Veon Bell, and would leave defenses overwhelmed, as their offense was one of the best offenses in football.

Well, that offense that wears black and gold now, looks like a bad dream compared to what Steelers fans were used to watching, over the past two decades. The Steeler’s offense can be described in no other words, than painful to watch. The Steelers offense ranks bottom in the NFL in almost every major offensive category, including 5th lowest in average yards per game (283.6), the fourth-fewest passing yards per game (180.3), the 13th-fewest rushing yards per game (103.2), and average the 7th fewest points per game (17.3). The Steelers’ offense is not dynamic, interesting, creative, or feared, and causing this lackluster unimpressive offense is two men leading this offense into the ground.

First is Kenny Pickett, who is the 3rd worst in completion percentage among qualified quarterbacks, with 61.3. Pickett has the 6th worst quarterback rating among qualified quarterbacks this year (81.1), has the 4th worst QBR this year (36.3), averages the 2nd fewest yards among quarterbacks in yards per game (179.6), and is 30th in rate of completions to gain 10+ yards at 18%. Kenny Pickett has led the offense to having the most punts per game, out of any team in the NFL, average the 3rd fewest plays per drive, and 25th in yards per play.

So, this offense has been far from good, and besides the man under center, the coach that is calling the plays, Matt Canada, is also to blame. As this offense has been completely out of sync, ever since he took over, 3 years ago. The Steelers also face a Browns defense that is one of the league’s best this year, allowing the fewest yards per game (242.7), the fewest passing yards per game (151.1), 7th fewest rushing yards per game (91.6), and allow the 6th fewest points per game with 18.9. Browns also are 6th in sacks, and 11th in ints.

This game on Sunday has all the looks of an ugly divisional showdown, dominated by defense and time of possession. These two teams are both holding their opponents on average to less than 21 points per game (Browns 6th with 18.9, and the Steelers with 11th with 20.2) and will be a defensive and coaching showdown, to which underwhelming offense can prevail, in this week 11 showdown, against two divisional rivals, eyeing 2nd place in the AFC North.


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