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Pittsburgh Steelers 22-24 Cleveland Browns

The Cleveland Browns overcame the weight of recent history, Covid-19 disarray, and an embarrassing loss to the Jets last week to clinch a playoff spot against their division rivals for the first time since 2002.

Baker Mayfield converted a third-and-two with a minute left to allow Cleveland to run out the clock, having already wrested momentum back in the third quarter with a 28-yard scramble on third down after Pittsburgh had pulled within one, allowing the Browns build a 15-point lead that proved to be just enough.

After forcing a Pittsburgh three-and-out, Nick Chubb took off for a 47-yard touchdown run on the Brown’s opening drive, evading multiple tackles before outracing Minkah Fitzpatrick. 

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With Mason Rudolph in for the rested Ben Roethlisberger, the Steelers struggled to generate offence early, and Cleveland added a field goal early in the second quarter.

However, Rudolph managed to pull out a big pass on three consecutive drives, one each to Diontae Johnson, JuJu Smith-Schuster and standout Chase Claypool, allowing three field goals to pull them within a point early in the second half.

At the same time, the depleted Steelers’ defence contained the Browns’ offense with sacks from Chris Wormley, Alex Highsmith and Jay Elliott.

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Just when Browns fans were fearing an embarrassing collapse to extend the streak of missing the playoffs, Mayfield shifted momentum with a huge scramble shortly followed by a touchdown pass to Austin Hooper.

After an M.J. Stewart interception, Jarvis Landry scored a touchdown on an end-around to make it 24-9.

Soon after, Claypool caught a 28-yard touchdown, making it a one-score game, and a huge 47-yard bomb to Johnson set up a Smith-Schuster touchdown catch to put them two points behind, but the equalising two-point conversion fell incomplete to ultimately preserve the victory for Cleveland.

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Sub-edited by Sam Carroll

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July 2024