PITTSBURGH — Same trip, same result.
The Browns have only won once at Pittsburgh's Heinz Field since the place opened up, and that single win came back in 2003. But on this Sunday afternoon, it really looked like this would be the day.
After all, the Steelers were playing with a free agent quarterback, without their best running back, without their best wide receiver, without their All-Pro center. And still, they ended up putting 20 up on the board, and beating the Browns by a touchdown.
Like so many other times in the past, the Browns had early momentum in Pittsburgh, but could not hang on to it. Until they overcome that, I think there'll be many two-and-a-half-hour trips over here and two-and-a-half-hour trips back home without a win.
Until you can handle the adversity when it comes (and you know it's always going to come here), then you're not going to beat these guys. These guys get the momentum themselves, this place gets roaring, and the Steelers end up with a predictable result, at least over the Browns.
Isn't it ironic that two, young, journeymen free agent quarterbacks really end up ending the Browns' chances of going to the playoffs? Go back about four weeks ago: In Denver, Brandon Allen (the quarterback out of Arkansas who had never taken an NFL snap) outplayed Baker Mayfield and helped the Broncos hand the Browns their fourth straight loss. Then today, Devlin "Duck" Hodges goes in there as a starter for only the second time in his first season out of Samford University.
Hodges played almost error-free football, giving up one interception late in the game. Other than that, he made all the right decisions, and waited for his team to get going. They did, right before halftime to erase a 10-point Browns lead. The defense played very, very well behind him as well, and he did enough offensively to get them the win.
Without all of those missing parts, the Steelers cling to that last AFC playoff spot right now at 7-5. The Browns, with all of those superstars on offense, are not in the playoffs. They're 5-7, and it looks like (unfortunately) we're playing out the string beginning next Sunday against the one-win Cincinnati Bengals.
Coming home from Pittsburgh, same result.
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