4:07 p.m.¬- CLEVELAND BROWNS END WINLESS 2017 SEASON WITH 28-24 LOSS TO PITTSBURGH STEELERS AT HEINZ FIELD
PITTSBURGH -- The Cleveland Browns finished the 2017 regular season on the wrong end of history in the National Football League Sunday.
Despite having their chances to build go-ahead scoring drives, the Browns were bitten by turnovers, and those miscues led to a 28-24 loss against the Pittsburgh Steelers in AFC North Division play at Heinz Field.
The Browns became just the second team in NFL history, along with the 2008 Detroit Lions, to finish winless in a 16-game season.
In addition to the 2017 Browns and 2008 Lions, only three other NFL teams have finished the regular-season winless, including the 1960 Dallas Cowboys (0-11-1), 1976 Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-14) and 1982 Baltimore Colts (0-8-1).
With Sunday's season-ending loss to the Steelers, the Browns went winless in a 16-game schedule for the first time in franchise history, and their 17th consecutive loss overall dropped the organization to a league-worst 1-31 since the opening game of 2016.
The Browns have not won on a Sunday afternoon since December 13, 2015. The 33 straight Sunday losses are an NFL record, and their 4-49 mark in the last 53 outings is the worst in the league in that four-year span.
Already this season, the Browns set the record for the worst 28-game stretch in NFL history, as they bested the previous mark of 2-26 set by the expansion Buccaneers during the 1976-1977 seasons with a 1-27 mark that got four losses worse since Week 13.
2:57 p.m.-STEELERS RETURN KICKOFF FOR TOUCHDOWN
PITTSBURGH -- Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster has game-changing ability, and after a stellar first half catching the ball, he put his speed, and elusiveness, on display on a special-teams return.
After the Browns drew even with the Steelers at 21 all, Smith-Schuster fielded a 61-yard kickoff from Cleveland rookie Zane Gonzalez at the four-yard line and returned it 96 yards for the tie-breaking touchdown, which gave Pittsburgh a 28-21 lead with just under 11 minutes left in the third quarter.
Smith-Schuster ran the ball up the right hash mark for the first 10 yards of the return, took a right turn toward the numbers and broke a pair of tackles while making other defenders dive and miss on his way down the sideline for Pittsburgh's first special-teams return touchdown of the season.
2:45 p.m.-HIGGINS HAULS IN GAME-TYING TD FOR CLEVELAND BROWNS
PITTSBURGH -- Cleveland Browns wide receiver Rashard Higgins had never caught a touchdown pass in his career in the National Football League entering Sunday's AFC North Division game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field, but he is making up for lost time.
Higgins capped off a seven-play, 68-yard drive by catching a five-yard touchdown pass from rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer out of the halftime break and drawing the Browns even with the Steelers, 21-21, early in the third quarter.
On third-and-goal from the Pittsburgh five-yard line, Kizer took the shotgun snap, scanned the field for an open receiver and found Higgins at the goal line for the touchdown. Higgins began the play in the slot on the left side of the formation, maintained separation from a defensive back and caught the touchdown.
It was Higgins' second receiving touchdown of the game, as he hauled in a 56-yard score from Kizer in the first half.
2:10 p.m.-BROWNS STRIKE FAST WITH LONG TD PASS FROM KIZER TO HIGGINS
PITTSBURGH -- The Cleveland Browns needed just two plays to respond to the Pittsburgh Steelers' third touchdown of their AFC North Division clash at Heinz Field, and it came in the form of a 56-yard scoring pass from rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer to wide receiver Rashard Higgins with 7:13 to play in the first half.
On second-and-six from the Cleveland 44-yard line, Kizer took a shotgun snap and slipped a short pass over the middle of the field to Higgins, who ran a crossing route from the left slot to an open spot in Pittsburgh's defense.
After securing the catch at the Pittsburgh 48-yard line, Higgins sprinted toward the end zone, stepped out of a diving tackle attempt at the 15 and scored his first career touchdown in the National Football League.
Higgins' touchdown catch cut Pittsburgh's lead down to seven points, 21-14.
2:04 p.m.-STEELERS TACK ON ANOTHER TD
PITTSBURGH -- Third-string running back Steven Ridley rushed for a four-yard touchdown and gave the Pittsburgh Steelers a 21-7 lead over the Cleveland Browns with 7:59 to play in the second quarter at Heinz Field.
Ridley's touchdown run capped off an eight-play, 75-yard drive that was aided heavily by a pair of Browns penalties.
On a seven-yard run from Fitzgerald Toussaint, Browns linebacker Joe Schobert gave the Steelers a free 15 yards when he was flagged for a face-mask penalty that moved the ball down to the Cleveland 16-yard line.
Three plays later, the Browns forced an incompletion on third-and-three from Cleveland's nine-yard line, but defensive end Myles Garrett was penalized for roughing quarterback Landry Jones. And while the penalty went for only five yards, it gave the Steelers a first-and-goal from the Browns' four-yard line.
1:52 p.m.-BROWNS CUT INTO STEELERS LEAD
PITTSBURGH -- The Cleveland Browns cut the Pittsburgh Steelers' lead down to seven points, 14-7, on Duke Johnson's two-yard touchdown run with 11:46 to play in the first half from Heinz Field.
On second-and-goal from the Pittsburgh two-yard line, Johnson took a handoff from quarterback DeShone Kizer and followed the blocks of center JC Tretter and left guard Joel Bitonio into the end zone for the touchdown, his fourth rushing score of the season.
Earlier in the drive, the Browns got a 54-yard pitch-and-catch from Kizer to wide receiver Josh Gordon that gave Cleveland a first-and-goal deep inside Pittsburgh territory.
On second-and-three from the Cleveland 44-yard line, Kizer dropped back, stood strong in the pocket and muscled a pass down the right sideline for Gordon.
After securing the catch at the 15-yard line behind the coverage of two Steelers, Gordon hustled his way down the field, where it was originally ruled that he scored a touchdown. However, following a review, the officials ruled Gordon stepped out of bounds at the two-yard line.
1:45 p.m.-STEELERS EXTEND LEAD ON JONES-TO-SMITH-SCHUSTER TD PASS
PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Steelers extended their lead over the Cleveland Browns to two scores, 14-0, on Landry Jones' 20-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster with 13:26 to play in the first half of their AFC North Division matchup at Heinz Field.
On third-and-two from the Cleveland 20-yard line, Jones took the snap from under center, quickly surveyed the field as he dropped back and threw a line drive pass to Smith-Schuster on the right side of the field that was just out of the reach of a Browns defender.
After getting a good release off of the line of scrimmage, Smith-Schuster got behind the coverage of the Browns' secondary and corralled his team-leading seventh touchdown catch of the season.
The Steelers' three-play, 28-yard scoring drive was set up by a partially deflected punt from Browns specialist Britton Colquitt, who was punting from the shadow of his own goal post for the second time in three attempts in the game.
1:08 p.m.-STEELERS TAKE EARLY LEAD ON REVERSE
PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Steelers may have started several backups at key skill positions, but that sure did not slow down their momentum against the Cleveland Browns in a battle of AFC North Division teams at Heinz Field.
The Steelers marched 72 yards on eight plays and took a 7-0 lead over the Browns with 10:43 to play in the first quarter when wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey took a pitch from running back Fitzgerald Toussaint, ran around right end and hustled his way to a 29-yard touchdown run.
Quarterback Landry Jones completed three of his four passes on the drive for 14 yards, and then, running back Steven Ridley rushed for 29 yards on three carries, including a 13-yarder on his first attempt, and later, a 16-yard jaunt that came to an end when he lost his footing on a snow-covered field.
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12:00 p.m.-GAME INFORMATION
PITTSBURGH -- The Cleveland Browns have made their annual trip to Heinz Field to play their chief AFC North Division rival, the Pittsburgh Steelers, and there is a bit of history on the line that they would like to avoid on the final day of the 2017 regular season.
The Browns are only one loss away from the wrong kind of history heading into the game against the Steelers.
The Browns suffered a 20-3 loss to the Chicago Bears (5-10) at Soldier Field last Sunday, which dropped them to 0-15 on the season, and they are one setback away from joining the 2008 Detroit Lions as the only teams in the history of the National Football League to finish a regular season at 0-16.
“I don't see any flinch, any quit, any 'I don't want to do this' mindset on the football team,” Jackson said.
“I think that has a lot to do with our coaches and the environment we try to create, and that within itself, gives you a chance. We say that every week. It hasn't materialized into what we want it to, but I think that is the starting point.”
The Browns have not won on a Sunday afternoon since December 13, 2015. The 32 straight Sunday losses are an NFL record, and their 4-48 mark in the last 52 outings is the worst in the league in that four-year span.
Already this season, the Browns set the record for the worst 28-game stretch in NFL history, as they bested the previous mark of 2-26 from the expansion Tampa Bay Buccaneers from the 1976-1977 seasons with a 1-27 stretch that has gotten three losses worse since Week 13.
“We have to play our best,” Jackson said. “We get all of that, but our focus, as a football team, is to come out of the game with a victory. Nothing more, nothing less. That is why we are going to Pittsburgh. We are not going there for any other reason.
“Our guys understand it is the last opportunity as a team for us to play for the rest of the season. That brotherhood in the locker room is something that they will hold on to, and they will go play and they will go play their tails off. I truly believe that.”