Final: Browns 24, Steelers 27
PITTSBURGH, Pennsylvania — The Pittsburgh Steelers backups assured the Cleveland Browns of the top pick in the 2017 draft.
Landry Jones hit Cobi Hamilton with a 26-yard touchdown with 2:57 left in overtime and the Steelers edged the Browns 27-24 on Sunday.
The Browns took a lead on Cody Parkey’s 34-yard field goal with 7:17 remaining in the extra session.
Jones, who started while the playoff-bound Steelers rested Ben Roethlisberger, took the Steelers 75 yards in nine plays, the last a pretty lob to the end zone that Hamilton hauled in to give Pittsburgh (11-5) its seventh straight victory after a 4-5 start.
Jones finished with 277 yards passing and three touchdowns and one interception.
The Steelers will host Miami in the wild-card round next weekend. The Dolphins thumped Pittsburgh 30-15 on Oct. 16.
Isaiah Crowell ran for a career-high 152 yards for the Browns (1-15), who finished with the worst record in franchise history.
Robert Griffin III passed for 232 yards with two touchdowns and an interception, but Cleveland missed a chance to beat the Steelers on the road for the first time since 2003 when it squandered a couple of golden opportunities late.
The Browns fumbled with the ball inside the Pittsburgh 5 with a minute to go in regulation and had a first-and-goal at the Pittsburgh 2 turn into a field goal by Parkey, extending the game.
The AFC North champion Steelers sat most of their big names with the third seed in the playoffs already sewn up after a thrilling comeback win over Baltimore last week.
It gave Heinz Field a decidedly preseason-like feel, at least for the guys wearing black and gold.
Cleveland, coming off its first victory in more than a calendar year, looked far more engaged early. Griffin, cleared to play after sustaining a concussion against San Diego, showed small flashes of competence during his best half of football of the season.
Griffin hit Seth DeValve for a 12-yard touchdown in the first quarter and found Gary Barnidge for a 4-yard strike in the second as the Browns built a 14-0 lead.
Griffin threw a pick in the red zone to thwart one drive then watched a snap sail over his head on Cleveland’s next possession to set up an 11-yard touchdown pass from Jones to DeAngelo Williams and the Steelers were right back in it.
Cleveland appeared to have things well in hand in the third quarter when cornerback Brien Boddy-Calhoun stepped in front of Jones’ pass and zigzagged 67 yards. When he stretched the ball across the goal line, Pittsburgh wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey knocked it loose and Jones fell on it in the end zone for a touchback.
Pittsburgh took the ensuing possession 80 yards for a touchdown to tie the game.
The Steelers’ already banged up defensive line took another hit. Ricardo Mathews left with an ankle injury and did not return. Rookie Javon Hargrave went into the concussion protocol in the second half. He was cleared and returned for one more series, but spent the rest of the game on the bench. Hargrave missed a game last month due to a concussion.
Browns: “With the first pick in the 2017 NFL draft, the Cleveland Browns select.”
Steelers: Meet the Dolphins in the playoffs for the fourth time in franchise history and the first time since the 1984 AFC championship game.