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Cleveland holds on to defeat Pittsburgh 48-37

The FNIA crew recaps the Browns' impressive win over the Steelers despite all the COVID obstacles Cleveland dealt with leading up to the game.

The Browns hadn’t won in Pittsburgh since the 2003 season.

The Browns hadn’t appeared in the playoffs since the 2002 season.

The Browns hadn’t won a playoff game since the 1994 season.

You could say Sunday’s victory was a long time coming.

While there were tense moments, Cleveland led from cover to cover, defeating the Steelers 48-37 to advance to the divisional round.

After taking a 35-10 lead into halftime on the heels of four Pittsburgh turnovers, the Browns’ advantage was cut to 35-23 late in the third quarter. But with fourth-and-1 on the Pittsburgh 46 to start the fourth period, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin elected to send the punt team on the field to try to draw Cleveland’s return team offside.

The strategy didn’t work, Pittsburgh took a delay of game, and then decided to punt.

It was a curious decision, as Cleveland’s defense hand’t stopped the Steelers from scoring since early in the second quarter.

The Browns had punted three times to that point in the second half, with two of those possessions going three-and-out. But Cleveland’s offense finally got going. Jarvis Landry made a 17-yard receptions on third-and-2 to keep the drive alive. And a few plays later, Nick Chubb took a screen 40 yards to the end zone to put Cleveland back up 42-23.

Pittsburgh got back onto board quickly with Chase Claypool’s 29-yard touchdown. But following a Cleveland field goal, Roethlisberger threw a final interception that effectively took the Steelers out of the game.

Claypool caught a second touchdown with 1:09 left, but Pittsburgh’s onside kick failed.

Roethlisberger set an NFL record for a regular-season or postseason game with 47 completions and his 501 yards are second-most in postseason history. But he also threw a career postseason high four interceptions in the contest.

Baker Mayfield finished his first playoff game 21-of-34 passing for 263 yards with three touchdowns. Chubb had 145 yards from scrimmage and a TD. Landry was Cleveland’s leading receiver with five receptions for 92 yards.

Cleveland’s win was made more impressive given that the club was without several coaches — including head coach Kevin Stefanski — and several players, including star cornerback Denzel Ward and Pro Bowl left guard Joel Bitonio. Plus, Cleveland hadn’t won a road playoff game since 1969.

The Browns will travel to Kansas City to take on the Chiefs in the divisional round at 3:05 p.m. ET next Sunday.

For the Steelers, it’s a disappointing end to their season — especially considering the opponent and the location. Pittsburgh hasn’t won a playoff game since 2016.