Browns (sort of) break losing streak against Pittsburgh: Cleveland defense notches six turnovers as they fight Steelers to draw

Randy Sforza, Contributing Writer

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The Pittsburgh Steelers started their 2018 season against the Cleveland Browns in a sloppy, rainy but yet typical AFC North slugfest that ended with a 21-21 tie in overtime.

This marks the first time in 17 attempts that the Browns haven’t lost a game: even though it was only a tie. Nevertheless, the streak is finally over for the city of Cleveland. The team’s losing streak dated all the way back to week 16 of the 2016 season, where the Browns only won one game the entire year, which was versus the once-formerly-known San Diego Chargers.

The big headline leading-up to Sunday’s game was the absence of Steelers All-Pro running back Le’veon Bell, who is still holding out because of contract negotiations. Second year running back James Conner got the start in replace of Bell last Sunday, where he racked up 135 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 31 carries.

Nonetheless, Conner’s inexperience fully displayed itself in the fourth quarter, specifically when former 2017 first overall pick, Brown’s defensive end Myles Garrett striped him and changed the game’s momentum for the rest of the competition. The fumble happened on a very important drive to finish off the game, which might have some Steelers fans asking the question: would have Bell fumbled in such a critical situation?

The very next play after Garrett’s takeaway, Cleveland’s Carlos Hyde scored a 1-yard rushing touchdown which brought the score to 21-14, giving the Browns and the fans in FirstEnergy Stadium hope. The Browns would eventually take Garret’s inspiration play and channel that energy into competing with the defending divisional champs.

Cleveland Browns Head Coach Huge Jackson is giving a big portion of credit for the team’s success to second-year star Myles Garrett.

Garret recorded 5 tackles, 2 sacks, and 2 fourth quarter force fumbles versus the Steelers Sunday. That is a strong opening game for a player poised to have a break-out season. Could a defensive player of the year trophy be in Myles’s future?  

In addition to Garrets dominant performance, the rest of Cleveland’s defense held the highly-touted Pittsburg offense in-check. The Browns only allowed 21 points to a team that possess arguably the game’s best wide receiver Antonio Brown and a future hall of fame quarterback. Furthermore, the new look Browns caused six turnovers, 3 of which were interceptions thrown by 2-time Super Bowl winning quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

Roethlisberger didn’t have a great start to the 2018 season, where he only completed 56 percent of his throws while also turning the football over 4 times. The weather conditions during the game weren’t ideal for passing, nor was the field in great shape from all the rain water. Regardless, the Steelers will need to improve on both sides of the ball if they expect to win next week’s game.

This game marks the first time the Steelers have not beaten the Browns in the past six meetings, dating back to October 12th, 2014. This game also marks the first tie in a week 1 game since 1971.

The Steelers now find themselves behind in the AFC North as both Cincinnati and Baltimore walked out of week one with a 1-0 record.
Pittsburgh takes on the Kansas City Chiefs in a high-profile week two AFC matchup this Sunday, 1 p.m. on CBS Network.

On the opposite side of the NFL and state of Pennsylvania, the defending Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles continued their magic from last year, beating the Atlanta Falcons on Thursday night by a score of 18-12.

The Eagles head south to Tampa Bay, Florida as they are set for a 1 p.m. kickoff against the Buccaneers.