CLEVELAND -- Cleveland Browns coach Hue Jackson was not happy with the officiating for much of the 2018 regular-season opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers at FirstEnergy Stadium, and nowhere was that displeasure more evident than late in overtime.
The Browns lined up to attempt a game-winning field goal in the waning seconds of the extra session, but the Steelers blocked the kick, and nine seconds later, the game ended in a 21-21 tie, a first in the rivalry between the AFC North Division teams.
Jackson felt the Browns should get another chance at a game-winning try because the Steelers, in his opinion, lined up offsides.
“I would like to see the play because I thought someone was offside,” Jackson said following the tie. “The ball got blocked. The ball did not get up. The trajectory of the ball was kind of low. They were able to make a play. They made the play when they had to for this game to end in a tie.”
With 13 seconds remaining in the game, the Browns sent the field goal unit onto the field for the potential winning try from the Pittsburgh 33-yard line.
Despite the rain-soaked playing surface, long-snapper Charley Hughlett got back the ball to holder Britton Colquitt cleanly and kicker Zane Gonzalez had no stumbles in his arrival to and through the football. However, Pittsburgh linebacker T.J. Watt got a hand into the path of the ball and blocked it.
“He broke through, so there was not much we can do about it,” Gonzalez said.
“Our job is to look at the spot and kick it. I felt like I hit a great ball, but when I looked up, it was a boom-boom situation. It kind of sucked.”
Gonzalez was confident in his ability to hit from 43 yards out, and like Jackson, did not blame the miss on the weather.
“Going into that direction was 50 yards,” Gonzalez said. “We felt good about it. When we went out there, we had confidence, but it just did not work out the way we wanted it to.
“It was the same as it was the whole game. We kicked two extra points early in the fourth quarter.”
Although the Browns finished the season opener with a tie, the good news for them is they get their rematch against the Steelers at Heinz Field on Sunday, October 28, and that is an opportunity the players very much embrace.
“I was for sure he was going to make it, so I was excited,” defensive end Myles Garrett said. “Then, you see a block, and you are kind of like ‘Well, you know we got them again,’ so have to beat them next time.”
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