Around the League  

 

Stick a fork in Cleveland Browns after loss to Steelers

Here lies the Cleveland Browns.

Left for dead in September after trading away running back Trent Richardson, Cleveland fought nobly for its life deep into November -- but that fight is over.

Our gang of Around The League scribes has no choice but to "stick a fork" in Rob Chudzinski's bunch after Sunday's 27-11 loss to the Steelers. A victory at home would have kept Cleveland (4-7) alive for the AFC's sixth playoff seed, but, instead, it's Ben Roethlisberger and frisky Pittsburgh (5-6) inching closer to January football.

Here's what else we learned Sunday:

1. Coming off back-to-back 100-yard receiving games, Steelers wideout Antonio Brown found himself pitted Sunday against ascendant Cleveland cornerback Joe Haden. After shutting down A.J. Green last week, Haden held Brown in check until just before halftime, when Big Ben found the pass-catcher on a 41-yard scoring strike to give Pittsburgh a 10-3 lead. Haden has produced a Pro Bowl-level season, but Brown -- who came into the game leading the NFL in receptions -- won the battle Sunday, finishing with six catches for 92 yards and the score.

2. Cleveland quarterback Jason Campbell generated just three points over two-plus quarters before Steelers cornerback William Gay knocked him out of the game with a shot to the head that arguably should have been flagged. In came the unkillable Brandon Weeden, who, like clockwork, coughed up an ugly fumble before dialing up a soul-crushing pick six. Don't expect to see either quarterback back in C-Town in 2014.

3. The Steelers opened the game in a no-huddle attack that leaned heavily on Le'Veon Bell. It's clear offensive coordinator Todd Haley wants to "winterize" this offense down the stretch. Sunday was a start. The Steelers failed to produce a 100-yard runner for the 18th game in a row, but Bell churned out 80 yards against frequent eight-man fronts.

4. One bright spot for the Browns? How about Josh Gordon, who shattered a franchise record with 237 receiving yards and also tied a team mark set by Ozzie Newsome with 14 catches. Despite constant chaos under center, the second-year wide receiver has delivered weekly.

5. With the Browns out of the way, Pittsburgh now prepares for a Turkey Night showdown with the Baltimore Ravens. The winner moves to 6-6 and sits in fine position to make a run at the sixth seed.

6. One more bitter pill for Browns fans to swallow: Bill Livingston of The Plain Dealer passed on a nugget this week about Butch Davis, the former Cleveland coach who drafted Gerard Warren over LaDainian Tomlinson and passed on selecting Roethlisberger back in 2004. Asked about the two-time Super Bowl winner coming out of Miami of Ohio, Butch told reporters: "Ah'm not that bi-ig on Bi-ig Ben." Ten years later, it stands out as one of this nightmare-drenched organization's biggest mistakes.

This is why Cleveland drinks.

We previewed every Week 12 game in the latest "Around the League Podcast."

Fan Discussion

NFL News
CONTENT
15