CLEVELAND — A pyrrhic victory is described as a win that came at such a devastating cost that it might as well have been a loss, and that is exactly how the Cleveland Browns were feeling after their triumph over the Pittsburgh Steelers at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland Thursday.
Rather than reveling in the 21-7 win over the Steelers, the 2019 Browns made history in becoming the first Cleveland team ever to earn victories over Baltimore and Pittsburgh in the same season, all of the talk was focused on the last eight seconds, where defensive end Myles Garrett likely earned a multi-game suspension for using a helmet as a weapon against quarterback Mason Rudolph.
“That is the bad part,” quarterback Baker Mayfield said.
“Instead of feeling like we just won a game that we really needed -- we talk about a singular focus and mindset -- it feels like we lost. It is going to take time for us to realize that we just won this game, even though it is very obvious on the scoreboard, but that is the tough part.”
Wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. added, “It does feel like we lost the game. As much as you want to put a smile on and walk out of here, there was so much in that game that there is to look at. It’s just back to the drawing board. Be 1-0 next week. That’s all we can focus on is Miami right now. Whatever consequences for our actions, we’ll take it on the chin like a man.”
The win over the Steelers gave the Browns consecutive victories for the first time this season and improved their record in the AFC North Division to 2-0 with four more games against the Cincinnati Bengals, Steelers and front-running Baltimore Ravens remaining over the final six weeks of the 2019 regular season.
But instead of celebrating a heck of touchdown catch from tight end Stephen Carlson, a two-interception game from linebacker Joe Schobert or Mayfield’s three-touchdown performance, the Browns were asked almost exclusively about the incident over the final few seconds of play.
“There are a lot of good things from the game that are going to get overshadowed by this, and a lot people are not going to get the recognition because of this,” Browns coach Freddie Kitchens said. “Our tight end made an unbelievable catch in the end zone. You won’t even hear about it now because of all of this.
“That part of it is disappointing that the Cleveland Browns organization has to answer questions about this when we just had a huge win. Yes, and they are hard. It is hard to win in the National Football League on a week-to-week basis, and the Pittsburgh Steelers are a great team, and we have to answer questions about this rather than celebrate the guys who performed well.”
Although the Browns won the game to get back into the hunt for a postseason berth, they must now deal with the prospect of losing Garrett to a lengthy suspension over the stretch run of the 2019 season.
“Joel Bitonio said it after the game, ‘You have to make sure that this stuff brings you closer together as a team. You cannot let it splinter,’” linebacker Joe Schobert said.
“I think everybody got the message and everybody is believing the same stuff. Obviously, it sucks that stuff like that happened, but I think we have to come out of it with a better mentality because of it. You have to learn from it.”