Steelers-Browns tie binds their AFC North futures whether or not they prefer it or not | NFL


CLEVELAND — That is a narrative Pittsburgh and Cleveland followers will inform for years to come back; the story of that time the Browns and Steelers performed to a tie to open the 2018 NFL season at First Power Stadium.

Do not forget that time Pittsburgh blew a 14-point lead within the fourth quarter in Cleveland? Bear in mind how the Browns broke their 17-game shedding streak with a 21-21 tie towards the Steelers? Will probably be trivia evening materials in Ohio and Pennsylvania eternally.

They may neglect the numbers, in fact. The Steelers had six turnovers. The Browns surrendered seven sacks. However they’ll bear in mind how each groups missed area objectives in additional time and needed to settle for a similar story, which may very well be sensed within the locker rooms after Sunday’s sport.

No one celebrated. Gamers shuffled out and in. Solutions to questions have been brief. How does one describe what occurred within the second half and the corresponding additional time that led to the primary tie in 132 conferences between these groups? Moist? Wacky? WTF?

“It is a bizarre feeling after a sport like that,” Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin mentioned. “You do not what to really feel or say or assume.”

Added Cleveland coach Hue Jackson mentioned: “Clearly, disillusioned on the final result. A tie sport.”

That wasn’t a query. Jackson was nonetheless figuring it out.

Awkward. Bizarre. Bitter. These are the fast responses. Now the AFC North rivals should let the long run dictate which crew — and what star gamers — will come out the winner this season after probably the most weird Week 1 end doable.

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For the coaches, there shall be questions. The Steelers ought to have gained the sport even with out star operating again Le’Veon Bell. Pittsburgh had a 21-7 lead with 7:44 remaining earlier than two fourth-quarter turnovers arrange Cleveland’s comeback.

Ben Roethlisberger, nonetheless, will take the brunt of the criticism after his five-turnover efficiency. The Steelers quarterback is now 21-2-1 towards the Browns, and his frustration confirmed in a curt interview within the locker room afterward. Roethlisberger, who turned 36 over the offseason, has been round this rivalry for some time. He merely mentioned, “If you happen to do not win, it looks like a loss.”

“Give them credit score, they made performs, particularly with the turnovers,” Roethlisberger continued. “You may’t win the sport once you flip the ball over that many occasions.”

The questions on Bell’s holdout will proceed regardless of the emergence of backup RB James Conner, who produced 135 dashing yards, 57 receiving yards and two TDs. That went properly with receiver Antonio Brown, who had 9 catches for 93 yards and a rating. Linebacker T.J. Watt had 4 sacks and blocked Cleveland’s last-second area objective in additional time.

Pittsburgh nonetheless has probably the most star energy within the division. Had Chris Boswell’s 42-yard area objective not sailed extensive left in additional time, this could be enterprise as ordinary.  

Solely, it did not. And that 14-point cushion nonetheless stands proud.

“I do not get into all that,” Tomlin mentioned when requested concerning the Steelers blowing the lead. “We play to win, and we did not win immediately.”

The loudest noise in both locker room echoed from the speaker behind Browns defensive finish’s Myles Garrett’s locker. Journey’s “Anytime” riffed whereas Garrett talked about the way forward for Cleveland’s protection.

“If we will play like that each sport and have that stadium like that, you higher be careful,” Garrett mentioned with a smile. “That is all I can say.”

Garrett, who had two sacks Sunday, is a full-fledged stud in his second season with defensive coordinator Gregg Williams. First-round choose Denzel Ward recorded two interceptions in his first NFL begin. Second-year security Jabrill Peppers scooped up a fumble and ignited the fourth-quarter rally. Linebacker Joe Schobert nearly scored on a fumble restoration within the closing minute of additional time.

Had Zane Gonzalez’s kick not been blocked, all of the “Exhausting Knocks” hype round a crew that completed 0-16 final 12 months would have morphed right into a dialog a few altering of the guard.

Solely, it did not. The Browns are now 1-18-1 in season-openers since 1999.

Cincinnati and Baltimore gained, too, which additional clouds the early AFC North race. The X-factor, Cleveland quarterback and 2018 No. 1 choose Baker Mayfield, walked by means of the locker room after the sport with no phrase. His teammate, beginning QB Tyrod Taylor, needed to reply probably the most questions.

Taylor completed 15-of-40 passing for 197 yards. He took these seven sacks and threw an interception, however he additionally led a quick-fire drive that tied the sport with a 17-yard TD move to WR Josh Gordon. Taylor is working with Jarvis Landry and Gordon, however the Browns went conservative and at one level had three consecutive three-and-outs. Cleveland completed plus-five within the turnover ratio in dangerous climate, however Taylor would not use the weather as an excuse for these missed alternatives. That is the AFC North, in spite of everything.

“The final word assertion would have been to come back out of this sport with a win,” Taylor mentioned. “I feel guys performed exhausting, we undoubtedly fought exhausting by means of 4 quarters and even additional time. However, a tie, it is only a bitter style.”

A couple of minutes earlier, Steelers linebacker Vince Williams delivered a extra pointed message.

“We’re not right here to have ties,” Williams mentioned. “We’re winners. That is what we’re right here to do.”

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For each groups, the seek for the first win of the season strikes to Week 2. Tomlin and Roethlisberger will area one other spherical of questions on Bell, and the Steelers’ maintain on the AFC North shall be questioned together with their self-discipline. Pittsburgh had 12 penalties for 116 yards in Cleveland.

The Browns, in the meantime, nonetheless have not gained a regular-season sport since Week 16 in 2017. That evoked blended reactions from followers; just a few caught round till Taylor walked out from his press convention. One screamed, “Thanks!” One other yelled, “QB1.” The Browns is likely to be a crew poised for a greater future below new basic supervisor John Dorsey, however the missed alternative fell on the moist turf in the long run zone after Watt blocked Gonzalez’s kick. Just a few Cleveland followers within the higher bowl hugged. Others shook fingers.

It wasn’t a win. It wasn’t a loss. It would age higher with time. However within the short-term, Jackson’s response stays the very best description of what unfolded.

Awkard. Bizarre. Bitter. Moist. Wacky. All of these apply, and we nonetheless do not know WTF will occur subsequent for both crew. The reply may hinge on Jackson, who nonetheless faces the duty of getting the Browns to the Steelers’ degree in the long run.

“The blokes fought,” Jackson mentioned. “Upset for our followers. Didn’t need them going dwelling with no victory. I didn’t need our gamers to go dwelling with no victory. We weren’t capable of get it executed. Didn’t end it, however clearly a tie.”

Jackson then shook his head, like everyone else, and repeated himself yet one more time.

“A tie.”

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