PITTSBURGH (WJW)– The Cleveland Browns beat the Pittsburgh Steelers 48-37 Sunday night at Heinz Field during the Wild Card round.
The Browns now advance to play the No. 1 seed Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday, Jan. 17.
Cleveland was able to accomplish the victory without their head coach Kevin Stefanski, who was out after testing positive with COVID-19. Special teams coordinator and Cleveland native Mike Priefer served as acting head coach and offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt called the plays.
The Browns were also missing veteran guard Joel Bitonio, who also tested positive for COVID-19, and tackle Jack Conklin left the game with a hamstring injury. But the offensive line, including Blake Hance, who Baker Mayfield met before the game, remained solid.
“We believe in the people in this room no matter what’s going on. As soon as the COVID news came out we were missing key guys, obviously starting with our head coach, we knew that everybody was counting us out and we knew what mentality we were going to have,” Mayfield said. “No one believed in us, besides us.”
It was a strange start to the game as the Browns forced a turnover for a touchdown in the first 14 seconds. That momentum continued in the first quarter, which included two Kareem Hunt touchdowns. Mayfield said Hunt, “Ran like he was trying to get to Kansas City.”
Cleveland’s 28 points were the most by any team in the first quarter of a playoff game since the 1970 NFL merger.
The Cleveland defense, despite its injured and struggling secondary, came up with big plays with interceptions from Sheldrick Redwin, Sione Takitaki, M.J. Stewart Jr. and Porter Gustin.
“We’ve been underdogs since we started this season. Nobody thought we were going to have a winning record, nobody thought we were going to get to the playoffs, nobody thought we were going to do anything in the playoffs. We going to keep proving people wrong and that’s what it’s all about. Don’t hold yourself to other people’s standards,” said defensive end Myles Garrett.
Hunt and Nick Chubb, who also contributed a touchdown, combined for 124 rushing yards.
“That team over there, great team. We knew they weren’t going to quit. Two weeks ago they had a comeback win. We know they’re a great team, they’re going to fight until the end,” Chubb said of the Pittsburgh Steelers. “We knew we had to put up a lot of points. That’s a great team over there.”
Wide receiver Jarvis Landry had 5 receptions for 92 yards and one TD.
It’s the Browns first playoff win since the 1994 season when they topped the Patriots on Jan. 1, 1995. With Sunday’s win, the Browns also snapped a 17-year losing streak at Heinz Field. It’s also the first postseason road win for the team since Dec. 28, 1969.
This was the second time in Cleveland Browns history they scored more than 40 points in a playoff game. The first time was the 1954 NFL Championship when the Browns beat the Lions 56-10.
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