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2020 Week 1: Browns Mount Huge Comeback to Stun Rival Steelers

Discussion in 'Game Summaries & Team News' started by LtJustice, Apr 1, 2015.

  1. LtJustice

    LtJustice QSF Commissioner

    Jul 22, 2010
    The Cleveland Browns and the Pittsburgh Steelers kicked off their 2020 seasons in grand fashion as the AFC North rivals met in a prime time game under the lights in week 1. Anytime these two teams meet, you can always expect an exciting game, but this match-up was made that much more intense because these two teams have accounted for the last three Super Bowl Championships in The Q. Combine that with the fact that both teams possess as talented a roster of players as you can find and neither owner wanting to start off their season with a loss, especially to a division rival, and you had the makings of an instant classic.


    What was expected to be a slug fest got off to a fast start, as the Steelers came out in the first drive of the game and hit the Browns right in the mouth. The Steelers mounted a 10-play 81-yard drive that left the vaunted Browns defense looking quite pedestrian. The Steelers offense moved the ball seemingly at will on the drive, as they never faced a single 3rd down, and capped it off with a 1 yard touchdown run by halfback Marcell Tillman.

    The Cleveland offense failed to get things going on the ensuing drive, as a deep pass attempt by Browns 2nd year quarterback Dave Mack, on only his 2nd pass attempt of the game, was intercepted near midfield by star Pittsburgh safety Javonta Binns.


    The Steelers would march into Cleveland territory, before one of the Browns own star safeties would get the ball back for the home team. Pittsburgh quarterback Zane Gray would throw his first of 4 interceptions on the day, as Browns safety Kenny Vaccaro would step in front of a Gray pass for his first of two interceptions on the day, at the Browns 20 yard line.

    The Cleveland offense would put together a promising drive, that took them into Pittsburgh territory, before ultimately stalling just out of field goal range. Following a great punt, by Browns rookie punter Claude Orr, that pinned them at their own 12, Pittsburgh would take possession with just under three minutes to go in the 1st half.

    Former Browns, and current Pittsburgh, receiver Russ Justice, didn't have the greatest homecoming against his former team. In a rare inter-divisional trade, especially involving young star players, the Browns sent Justice to the Steelers this past offseason, to acquire the services of superstar linebacker Ryan Shazier. Justice would get open and make a great 3rd down catch to give the Steelers a first down and get their backs out of the endzone. Unfortunately for Justice, that catch would quickly be forgotten, as he muffed an attempted screen pass on the very next play. Gray hit Justice with a quick strike, immediately after taking the snap, but the ball seemed to be too hot for the young receiver and it bounced off of his hands as a fumble. Browns linebacker Barkevious Mingo would immediately fall on the ball, to give the Browns possession at the Pittsburgh 25 yard line. The Browns would fail to get into the end zone, but would capitalize on the turnover and finally get on the board with a field goal, to make it 7-3 Pittsburgh.

    The Steelers would get the ball back with just over a minute to go in the half, and Gray was again on point during this drive. He would march the Pittsburgh offense into Browns territory and allow them to negate the previous field goal with one of their own, to push the Pittsburgh lead back to a touchdown, at 10-3, going into the half.


    The momentum stayed on the Steelers side early in the 3rd quarter, as Mack would throw his 2nd interception of the day, this time to Steelers safety Richie Walton. The Steelers would capitalize on the turnover in a big way, as Pittsburgh receiver DaVonte Belton would slip behind the Browns defense and haul in a Gray bomb for a 51 yard touchdown.

    Walton would strike again a few plays later, as he intercepted Mack for the 2nd time on the day. The Steelers would again capitalize on the interception, as another field goal pushed their lead to 20-3 midway through the 3rd quarter.

    With the momentum needle completely pinned to the Pittsburgh side of the gauge, the Browns would then turn the ball over for the 4th time on the day. On the first play of their ensuing drive, Browns halfback Marcell Stewart would cough up the ball after being leveled by Pittsburgh linebacker Mychal Kendricks, who also recovered the loose ball. The Browns defense would once again hold the Steelers to a field goal, but the game was slipping away fast as the field goal pushed the Steelers lead to 23-3 with less than 3 minutes to go in the 3rd.

    After the teams exchanged 3 and out possessions, the Browns would take control at their own 11 yard line, with only seconds left in the 3rd quarter. On the last play of the 3rd quarter, Mack would throw up a bomb for Browns Pro Bowl receiver Jerald Holland. Holland would out jump a Pittsburgh defender and pull down the pass near the Steelers 40 yard line, for a 51 yard gain.


    The pass and catch ignited the Browns faithful still on hand at First Energy Stadium, and created a definite buzz in the air. On the first play of the 4th quarter; Mack, the Browns second year star and reigning offensive rookie of the year, would then connect with another one of his Pro Bowl wide receivers, Ephraim Pope, who went screaming across the middle of the Pittsburgh defense, hauled in a 10 yard strike and took it the rest of the way to the house for a 38 yard touchdown. The score closed the gap a little, but the Steelers were still firmly in control with a 13 point lead early in the 4th quarter and possession of the ball.

    The Pittsburgh offense looked intent on chewing up some clock and grinding out yards on the ground, but a huge stuff by the Browns defense, on 3rd and inches, forced the Steelers into a 3 and out.

    The Browns again struck quickly with a big play, as 3 plays later Mack found the 3rd of his trio of Pro Bowl pass catchers, Dee Irvin, streaking toward the goal line. Mack threw a beautiful deep ball right near the goal line, which traveled 60+ yards in the air, and Irvin made an even better leaping grab to haul it in and trot into the endzone. The 62 yard score cut the Steelers lead to less than a touchdown, at 23-17, with over 7 minutes still to play.

    The Browns defense would come up huge on the 1st play of the ensuing drive, as Browns All-Pro linebacker Luke Kuechly would intercept a Gray pass, to give the Browns the ball back, with the chance to take the lead, at the Pittsburgh 11 yard line.

    The Browns would grind out 10 tough yards, but despite having the ball at 1st and goal from the 1 yard line, they were unable to punch it into the endzone. After a failed 4th down attempt to punch it in by the Browns, the Steelers would take over possession at their own 2 yard line, with just under 4 minutes to play.

    Not wanting to risk punting the ball back to the Browns, the Steelers went for broke on 3rd down. Gray tossed a deep ball right down the middle, in the direction of the 6'6" Justice. Running stride for stride with Justice was Browns safety Richard Sherman, who just converted to safety this season after being an All World cornerback throughout his career. Ever the wily veteran, Sherman was able to get position on Justice and came down with the one handed interception near midfield.

    Mack and the Browns offense knew this was a gift of an opportunity and were determined not to blow this shot. Mack drove the Browns down to the Pittsburgh 8 yard line, where they faced a 3rd and 4 with just under a minute to play. The Browns came out in the Pistol Wishbone formation, which Mack used to run extensively in his collegiate days at Wisconsin, and after accessing the Pittsburgh defense, Mack audibled at the line for full pass protection, meaning only the two outside receivers would be going out for the pass. Mack took the snap and the pass protection was great, as 8 blockers held back the 3 pass rushers with ease, but the zone defense of the Steelers looked impenetrable at first glance. Mack's first instinct was to try to take it in himself, but as he rolled toward the numbers, he saw a Steeler defender waiting to pounce. Mack froze in his tracks and fired a strike to the back corner of the endzone. Irvin was standing there all alone, just out of range of the nearest defender, and hauled in the touchdown pass, making sure he got his feet down before stumbling out of bounds, to give the browns the 1 point lead at 24-23 with just 50 seconds left on the clock.

    Still holding two timeouts and just needing a field goal to get back the lead and win it, the Steelers came out aggressive. After a touchback would start them at their own 20 yard line, Gray looked deep for his star tight end Jace Amaro. Amaro had appeared to find a seem right down the middle of the Browns defense, but Vaccaro was lying in wait. Vaccaro jumped in front of Amaro to secure his 2nd pick of the day and give the Browns a hard fought victory over a tough division rival.


    While the Browns were never expected to struggle as badly as they did early on in this one, the fighting spirit they showed, and the poise of their young franchise QB in the 4th quarter, are definitely hallmarks they would like to see carry forward into their week 2 match-up against another division rival, as the Brows take a trip down 71 to visit the Cincinnati Bengals.


    Great game, Curt! Looking forward to week 14 already!
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  2. thafuture3886

    thafuture3886 Power Rankings Analyst

    Jul 23, 2010
    Hell of a game Jim..made some horrible decisions in the 4th and you capitalized on all of them lol. Those jump balls are going to haunt me until our next matchup :confused::confused:
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  3. LtJustice

    LtJustice QSF Commissioner

    Jul 22, 2010
    Definitely a hell of a game! Those jump balls were luck, plain and simple. Earlier in the game those were interceptions. I stole this one for sure.
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