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The fears about the Cleveland Browns after Deshaun Watson’s season-ending shoulder injury were well-founded on the basis of Sunday’s 13-10 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The Browns entered the day sitting sixth in the AFC and occupying a wild-card position. Remaining in the top seven will be a challenge with how badly the offense struggled without Watson under center.
Dorian Thompson-Robinson at least stepped up when he needed to. He finished 24-of-43 for 165 yards and an interception and guided the Browns on an eight-play, 48-yard drive that culminated in Dustin Hopkins’ game-winning 34-yard field goal.
Still, Cleveland didn’t exactly look like a playoff-caliber team. Maybe Sunday’s formula of a stifling defense mixed with just enough from Thompson-Robinson will get the job done.
Shaun Newkirk @Shauncore
We just cannot as a society allow the Steelers or Browns to make the playoffs
Bill Shea @Bill_Shea19
I mean, the Browns’ injuries have been horrific thos season — Chubb, Conklin, Watson — so it’s a testament they’re even 6-3, but for almost 60 years they’ve failed when it counts the most. With Mayfield, they’re a lock for the playoffs. But now? Very doubtful.
You’d at least rather been the Browns right now than the Steelers.
Pittsburgh won four of its last five games, all four coming by one score. A 6-3 record was flattering toward Mike Tomlin’s squad, and now its luck might be running out.
Kenny Pickett threw for his second-fewest yards (106) this year, while Jaylen Warren’s 74-yard touchdown run accounted for nearly a third of the Steelers’ total offensive output (249 yards).
Judging solely by the fan reaction, you’d be forgiven for thinking Pittsburgh was sitting near the bottom of the league. That frustration isn’t misplaced, though. Pickett in particular may have reached a point of no return.
Logan Carney @Media_Carnival
Just an absolute pathetic performance by Pickett, the o-line, the play calling, miscommunication, entire offense not named Jaylen Warren.
And the Steelers lose to a rookie QB on the Browns… pathetic
Christopher Carter @CarterCritiques
Kenny Pickett had every opportunity to win this game today. No excuses for him.
Defense did what it was supposed to do time and time again. But you can’t win with that little bit of production. And again, the plays are there. Play calls aren’t the issue. #Steelers
Michael Beck @MichaelBeck56
Steelers need a new OC, QB, LT, and Center
This was pathetic and exacerbated by finally losing the close contest.
Ryan Clark @Realrclark25
Disgraceful for the Steelers to lose to this Cleveland Browns’ team with DTR at QB. Not executing down the stretch offensively while DTR leads the game winning drive is inexcusable. Not making any changes is allowing it to happen. They can’t continue to allow IT to happen!!
Kevin Adams @KevinAdams26
Our starting QB. The first QB taken in the draft last year. Couldn’t muster beating a 5th round, 3rd string rookie QB. Save the excuses. Steelers need to consider looking elsewhere for next year.
Josh Yohe @JoshYohe_PGH
The Steelers have many issues. But the quarterback is absolutely atrocious and I’m astounded at how many simply can’t accept that he’s incompetent and actually regressing.
David Todd @DavidMTodd
#Steelers lose 13-10. Have to seriously consider benching Kenny Pickett.
Mikey Aces @Mikey5Aces
Steelers aren’t making any playoffs in case you still want to claim otherwise.This passing offense is probably the worst bunch of crap I have ever seen and that’s saying something. Tomlin is a mediocre coach and won’t make changes to his inferior coaching staff. But Art loves him
Unlike with Cleveland, there’s little reason to think Pittsburgh’s offense will get any better.
Thompson-Robinson made only his second career start and only his first with a full week to prepare. Perhaps his performance will improve as he gets more and more seasoning. With as great as the defense is, the Browns don’t need elite QB play in order to get to the postseason.
Pickett, on the other hand, is into Year 2 and has been playing the same way all season. His ceiling simply isn’t very high, and the front office might need to wait until the offseason until it can make the kind of change that’s required.