Replay: Browns fall to Steelers in finale, finish disappointing season with 7-10 record
A disappointing season for the Cleveland Browns came to an end Sunday in Pittsburgh as the Steelers prevailed 28-14.
Cleveland (7-10) had won four of its previous six games, but was eliminated from playoff contention two weeks ago. Pittsburgh (9-8) entered the weekend with slim playoff hopes, but the Miami Dolphins' 11-6 win over the New York Jets kept the Steelers from qualifying for the postseason.
Here are scoring updates and analysis from the game:
Steelers build 28-14 cushion with less than five minutes to play
The Browns made it a one-score game with about 10 minutes remaining, but their defense failed to seize the momentum and register a stop.
The Steelers established a 28-14 lead with a touchdown — fullback Derek Watt's 1-yard run — and a successful two-point play — rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett's pass to wide receiver Diontae Johnson against the coverage of cornerback Greg Newsome II in the back left corner of the end zone.
Those plays put the finishing touches on a 14-play, 75-yard drive.
Watt's touchdown was preceded by a key third-and-goal from the 2. With 4:39 left, Browns rookie cornerback Martin Emerson Jr. was penalized for pass interference on rookie wide receiver George Pickens in the end zone.
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Browns safety John Johnson III, left tackle Jedrick Wills Jr. leave game with apparent knee injuries
Browns safety John Johnson III suffered what appeared to be a nasty knee injury during the series.
Steelers tight end Connor Heyward made a leaping catch for 27 yards, fell and crashed into the side of Johnson's left leg with 6:38 remaining in the fourth quarter.
Johnson remained on the ground and was examined by medical personnel on the field before walking to the sideline.
Then with 53 seconds remaining in the game, Browns left tackle Jedrick Wills Jr. also suffered an apparent knee injury and limped to the sideline accompanied by the medical staff.
Nick Chubb joins Jim Brown with more than 1,500 rushing yards, Browns cut deficit to 20-14
The Browns rallied in the fourth quarter and trimmed the Steelers' lead to 20-14 with 10:11 left in the fourth quarter, when quarterback Deshaun Watson scrambled and threw a 2-yard touchdown pass to Pro Bowl running back Nick Chubb on second-and-goal.
Earlier during the seven-play, 77-yard march, Chubb joined iconic running back Jim Brown as the only Browns players to reach 1,500 rushing yards in a single season.
Two snaps before Chubb's touchdown catch, the Browns benefited from a questionable roughing-the-passer penalty called on Steelers defensive tackle Cameron Heyward when he sacked Watson on second-and-7 from the 11.
Steelers score touchdown off Browns QB Deshaun Watson's second interception of the game
The Steelers recorded their second interception off Watson when safety Damontae Kazee bumped into rookie wide receiver David Bell and snatched the pass out of the air. The Steelers took control at the Cleveland 25 with 5:42 left in the third quarter after Kazee returned the pick 12 yards.
Then the Steelers capitalized with a six-play scoring drive. On second-and-goal, running back Najee Harris rushed for a 4-yard touchdown with 3:12 remaining in the third quarter, and the Steelers went ahead 20-7.
Browns defensive end Myles Garrett ties single-season best in sacks, but Steelers go ahead 13-7
The opening series of the second half was eventful.
The 12-play, 59-yard drive ended with the Steelers extending their lead to 13-7 when Chris Boswell made a 34-yard field goal with 9:04 left in the third quarter.
The Steelers summoned their kicker after Browns All-Pro defensive end Myles Garrett sacked Pickett on third-and-9 from the 10. Garrett tied his single-season career best with 16 sacks, the same total he compiled in 2021 to set a franchise record.
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Browns fall behind 10-7 at halftime after Steelers turn Deshaun Watson interception into points
On the series after the Steelers tied the score 7-7, the Browns gave the ball back to their opponents.
Watson tried to force a pass to Bell, even though three defenders were in the area. One of those Steelers, cornerback Levi Wallace, cut in front of Bell and intercepted Watson's pass.
The Steelers took control at their 44 with 1:11 left in the second quarter. They turned the takeaway into points and a 10-7 advantage when Boswell made a 48-yard field goal with 38 seconds remaining in the first half. Pittsburgh led by the same score at halftime.
Pittsburgh Steelers tie score 7-7 with Kenny Pickett's touchdown pass to George Pickens
In a game lacking fireworks on offense for the vast majority of the first half, the Steelers countered immediately after the Browns struck first.
Trailing 7-0, the Steelers manufactured a nine-play, 75-yard drive, capping it with Pickett's 31-yard touchdown pass to Pickens with 1:47 remaining in the second quarter.
The Browns helped the Steelers by blowing their coverage during the third-and-15 play. An apparent breakdown in communication between safety John Johnson III and cornerback A.J. Green allowed Pickens to run wide open.
Cleveland Browns lead 7-0 after Deshaun Watson and David Njoku connect for touchdown pass
The Browns scored the game's first points.
They took a 7-0 lead when Watson and tight end David Njoku connected for a 10-yard touchdown pass with 6:27 left in the second quarter and rookie kicker Cade York made the extra point.
The play capped a 10-play, 71-yard drive and came one snap after a key third-down conversion.
On third-and-1 from the Pittsburgh 22, the Browns summoned Watson's backup Jacoby Brissett, otherwise known as the king of the quarterback sneak. Instead of sneaking, Brissett pitched left to Chubb, who rushed for 12 yards and a first down.
Then the Browns drew blood on the next play.
Browns' Deion Jones forces Steelers' Najee Harris to fumble at the goal line
When Steelers Harris tried to dive over the goal line on Pittsburgh's first drive of the game, he made it over. The catch? He didn't have possession of the football. Linebacker Deion Jones knocked the ball out of Harris' hands on the third-down play, and it was recovered by defensive end Alex Wright.
The drive was highlighted by a 33-yard reception by Steelers wide receiver Diontae Johnson, who was being covered by Browns cornerback Denzel Ward. The Steelers began the drive with five straight run plays.
The Browns stalled on the ensuing series, and neither team scored in the opening quarter.
Speaking of not scoring, the Steelers should have challenged the first-down play two snaps before Harris fumbled.
This was a 1st and Goal play in #CLEvsPIT that Pittsburgh elected not to challenge. I understand rushing to catch the defense off-guard and attempting to quickly score, but it appears that Najee Harris' knee is not down prior to the ball crossing the goal line. pic.twitter.com/yLVJ2AmfED
— Gene Steratore (@GeneSteratore) January 8, 2023
Cleveland Browns' Denzel Ward, Reggie Ragland also deal with injuries
Later, Ward began sitting out and remained sidelined for the majority of the first half. He entered the game listed as questionable with a shoulder injury.
Linebacker Reggie Ragland went to the locker room with medical personnel late in the first half after being examined in the tent on the sideline. He suffered a shoulder injury.
In the third quarter, the Browns announced Ward and Ragland would not return to the game.
Running back Kareem Hunt was being evaluated for a head injury by the Browns announced shortly before halftime. The team labeled Hunt's status as questionable to return. Hunt eventually came back to the action.
Here is pregame information:
Browns and Steelers pay tribute to Bills' Damar Hamlin
Before Sunday's game kicked off, players gathered on the field to honor Bills defensive back Damar Hamlin as well as first responders and medical caregivers. On Monday night at Paycor Stadium, Hamlin suffered a cardiac arrest in the first quarterback of Buffalo's game against the Cincinnati Bengals.
Several Browns coaches are also wearing shirts honoring Hamlin.
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What TV channel is the Browns at Steelers game on?
The Browns and Steelers will be on CBS, with the game kicking off at 1.
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How to listen to Browns vs. Steelers on the radio
Browns games air locally on the radio on 92.3 The Fan (WKRK-FM), ESPN 850 WKNR and WNCX (98.5 FM) with Jim Donovan (play-by-play), Nathan Zegura (color) and Jerod Cherry (sideline).
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Cleveland Browns at Pittsburgh Steelers betting odds, moneyline
Moneyline: Browns +125 (bet $100 to win $125) | Steelers -145 (bet $145 to win $100)
Against the spread: Browns +2.5 (-104) | Steelers -2.5 (-116)
Over/Under: 40.5 (O: -111 | U: -109)
This article originally appeared on Akron Beacon Journal: Cleveland Browns wrap up season in Pittsburgh with loss, 7-10 record