The Cleveland Browns winning mentality prevails. It’s there in all the players. Their playoff dream is still alive. It took all of 26 years for them to experience it. It was the perfect end to a difficult week. And they narrowly escaped what could’ve turned into a nightmare finish against the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Browns have a formula of sorts. What are they doing right? These things will help them when they face the Kansas City Chiefs in the divisional round.
The Cleveland Browns Winning Mentality Prevails
The Browns scored a defensive touchdown on the first play. They leapt to a shocking 28-0 first-quarter lead against Pittsburgh, tying an NFL playoff record for points in a first quarter. They hung on to that lead to defeat the Steelers 48-37 for their first playoff victory since 1994. Their 17-game losing streak at Heinz Field also ended.
A COVID-19 result prevented Kevin Stefanski from being there per ESPN’s Jake Trotter , watched the victory alone in his basement, in peace, with his phone turned off. Special teams coordinator Mike Priefer, a Cleveland native and fan, had the opportunity to take over the reins and see the team through to this significant event.
The Browns Thrive On Obstacles
There were widespread concerns over the Browns training facility being closed for two days due to COVID cases for Joel Bitonio and KhaDarel Hodge, plus two offensive assistants. Questions over the impact of being shorthanded on the field and the sidelines, and limited practice time, swirled around the NFL and the community.
But the Browns swiftly put an end to all the worry. They had kept that playoff mindset from weeks ago, not being satisfied until they got further and further. They came and played like nothing had held them back in the days before. Everything has changed. The fighter mentality is in every player. The Browns no longer let anything get them down.
They Scored Big, Early
A shock and awe works best for the Browns. They became the first team since 1969 to score 28 points in the first quarter of a playoff game. Everyone was amazed and Pittsburgh was reeling; they couldn’t regain their composure until the score was 35-7. Cleveland just kept fighting to keep their lead.
The Run Game And Passing Game Has Improved
As it had happened many times during this season, the guys were in sync with one another. It kickstarted with safety Karl Joseph recovering a snapped ball over the head of Ben Roethlisberger in the end zone, giving Cleveland the lead in the first 14 seconds.
Kareem Hunt did what he does best, extending the lead with a pair of touchdown runs, the second was set up by yet another Roethlisberger interception.
The Browns Capitalize Just When They Need To
Pittsburgh woke up and cut the lead to 35-23, swinging momentum. The fans feared their team would choke as they had in seasons before. But when Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin punted on fourth-and-1 at midfield, the Browns swung back into action. They capitalized – Mayfield connected on a 40-yard touchdown pass to Nick Chubb off a screen. The Browns were back at the wheel.
The Browns Believe In Themselves
The leadup to this game was a colorful one. Many didn’t think the Browns could pull off the unthinkable. Some believed this was their time to shine. JuJu Smith-Schuster had referred to them as “nameless gray faces.” When asked about that quote, Mayfield gave a clear message. “We believe in the people in this room no matter what is going on… everybody was counting us out. We knew what mentality we were going to have and it’s just to cut it loose. …because no one believed in us besides us.”
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