The Cleveland Browns open the season with a 21-21 tie against the Pittsburgh Steelers. This is the first tie for the Browns since the 1989 season.
Zane Gonzalez’ potential game-winning field goal with ten seconds left in overtime was blocked by Steelers linebacker T.J. Watt which essentially sealed the tied ball game.
Cleveland stormed back in the fourth quarter down 14 until both the offense and the defense made crucial plays to tie the game at 21 and force it to overtime.
Carlos Hyde punched it in from one yard out with 7:32 left following a Myles Garrett forced fumble and a return of 16 yards by Jabrill Peppers.
Getting the ball back with a little over two minutes left, Tyrod Taylor connected with Rashard Higgins for 38 yards and then with 1:58 left connected with Josh Gordon for a 17-yard touchdown.
Taylor finished the game 15 of 40 for 197 yards, one touchdown and one interception which was a underthrown pass to Gordon who had Cameron Sutton beat for perhaps the game-winning touchdown with 23 seconds left in regulation.
Taylor also was Cleveland’s leading rusher with 77 yards on eight carries including a 20-yard touchdown in the third quarter.
I don’t know if he was hurt but Taylor was struggling to throw the football although the weather played a huge element with the rain and wind but he underthrew a lot of his attempts and it showed.
Taylor was sacked seven times, many were a result of him holding on to the ball too long.
The offensive line struggled on Sunday with numerous penalties by rookie left tackle Desmond Harrison but Taylor needs to either get the ball out quicker or throw the ball away to avoid the sacks and avoid going backwards offensively.
The Browns defense had a great performance but there was things they definitely could clean up especially after giving up 472 yards of offense. After struggling to create takeaways during the 2017 season, Cleveland had six takeaways (3 interceptions, 3 fumbles).
First-round pick Denzel Ward made an impact in his NFL debut with two interceptions. Damarious Randall also had an interception which finally proved having a safety 20+ yards from the line of scrimmage can work.
Myles Garrett said when he was drafted that his goal was to sack Ben Roethlisberger. He did that twice and also forced two fumbles and had six tackles which was tied for the third most on the team.
The Steelers did not miss Le’Veon Bell by any means and their offense kept moving up and down the field like they always do.
James Conner in his first NFL start had 135 yards rushing, 57 yards receiving and two touchdowns on 36 offensive touches and if it wasn’t for the name on the back of the jersey, people may have thought Bell was out there.
Antonio Brown had 9 catches for 93 yards and a touchdown and JuJu Smith-Schuster added 119 yards on five catches.
On the Browns offensive side, Carlos Hyde had 62 yards on 22 carries and the Browns as a whole had ran for 177 yards on 38 carries.
Jarvis Landry had 106 yards on seven catches in his debut with Cleveland which led the team in receiving.
Biggest takeaway from the game in my opinion was the number of penalties by the Browns. The team committed 11 penalties and those penalties would kill drives that the team would start moving the ball down the field and making progress.
Two penalties that I thought was ridiculous was the roughing the passer penalty by Myles Garrett and the unnecessary roughness penalty by Josh Gordon. The NFL is making the game too soft and I understand safety is an important part of the game but sometimes the rules make the game too safe when we all know football is and always will be a physical sport.