NFL

Browns hold off Steelers to end playoffs wait, Ravens power into postseason

By Sports Desk January 03, 2021

The Cleveland Browns ended the NFL's longest playoff drought as they held off the Pittsburgh Steelers in dramatic fashion to secure postseason football.

Needing a win to book their first playoff appearance since 2002, the Browns triumphed 24-22 in the final game of their regular season.

Joining the Browns in the playoffs are the Baltimore Ravens, who thrashed the Cincinnati Bengals 38-3 to take another of the seven available postseason spots on Sunday.

The Miami Dolphins' hopes took a blow as they succumbed to a heavy defeat to AFC East winners Buffalo Bills, while the Dallas Cowboys fell short at the final hurdle with a loss at the New York Giants, who need a favour from the Philadelphia Eagles.

 

BROWNS END 18-YEAR WAIT

After 17 seasons of being on the outside looking in, the Browns are into the playoffs thanks to a nerve-wracking victory over the Steelers enough to end a dismal run.

Cleveland had to shut down its practice facility four times over the course of the last eight days due to COVID-19 concerns but, inspired by Baker Mayfield, the Browns made it through.

Mayfield threw for 196 yards and one touchdown but led some decisive drives and sealed the victory with a first-down run at the death after Mason Rudolph had missed a two-point attempt that would have tied the game.

The Browns finish the regular season 11-5 – it is their best record since 1994, when Bill Belichick led them to their last win in a playoff game. 

Pittsburgh ultimately ended Cleveland's hopes that season, and the Steelers will be the Browns' first opponents in the playoffs next week. 

In another twist of fate, the Browns' only playoff appearance this century also came in Pittsburgh, where they lost 36-33.

JACKSON-INSPIRED RAVENS SOAR AND GIANTS ON THE BRINK

Lamar Jackson became the first quarterback in NFL history to top 1,000 rushing yards in successive seasons as he helped the Ravens to a massive, playoff-clinching win over the Bengals.

More records tumbled for the 2019 MVP, as the 23-year-old became the first QB to throw 46 red-zone touchdowns without an interception and takes the crown for the fastest QB to amass 30 wins.

Jackson, a former first-round pick, rushed for 97 yards on Week 17, as Baltimore won a fifth straight game with ease.

The Raves will now face the winner of the AFC South – either the Tennessee Titans or the Indianapolis Colts.

Meanwhile, the Giants will be rooting for the Eagles to overcome the Washington Football Team later on Sunday after their win over the Cowboys put them on the brink of the postseason.

Should Philly win, the Giants will clinch the NFC East title, though a Washington win would send Ron Rivera's team through.

DOLPHINS SINK, BRADY'S BUCS CAP OFF REGULAR SEASON IN STYLE

The Dolphins' playoff chances are slim after a 56-26 defeat to the Bills, as Josh Allen and Isaiah McKenzie – who ran in three touchdowns – blew them away in Buffalo.

Allen, who is in a race for the league's MVP award, threw 224 passing yards for three touchdowns on Sunday.

The third-year QB holds single-season franchise records for passing yards (4,544), touchdowns (37) and completions (396).

Miami must now rely on the Jacksonville Jaguars to pull off an unlikely win over the Indianapolis Colts to claim a playoff berth.

Meanwhile, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers finished a brilliant regular season with a 44-27 win over the Atlanta Falcons.

On his record-setting 299th start in the NFL, Tom Brady threw touchdown passes to Chris Godwin and Antonio Brown, as the six-time Super Bowl champion finished with a Tampa Bay single-season record 40.

Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Peyton Manning and Dan Marino are the only players other than Brady with multiple seasons of at least 40 touchdown passes.

Brady also picked out three-time Pro Bowler Mike Evans with a pass, who once again reached 1,000 receiving yards in a season for Tampa, though he then suffered a game-ending knee injury.

JEFFERSON INTO THE RECORD BOOKS

Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson set a new Super Bowl-era record as he surpassed Anquan Boldin for the rookie with the most receiving yards in a season.

He is now second all-time behind Bill Groman, who holds a rookie record of 1,473 receiving yards, which he set in 1960.

Jefferson also set a Vikings franchise rookie record when he caught a 15-yard pass in the third quarter of a 37-35 win over the Detroit Lions, who will finish no lower than seventh in the current draft order.

 

Week 17 results (part one)

Baltimore Ravens 38-3 Cincinnati Bengals
Buffalo Bills 56-26 Miami Dolphins
Cleveland Browns 24-22 Pittsburgh Steelers
Minnesota Vikings 37-35 Detroit Lions
New England Patriots 28-14 New York Jets
New York Giants 23-19 Dallas Cowboys
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 44-27 Atlanta Falcons

 

Related items

  • Man City's nervy win at Newcastle 'good lesson' ahead of Champions League final – Guardiola Man City's nervy win at Newcastle 'good lesson' ahead of Champions League final – Guardiola

    Pep Guardiola said Manchester City's wild 4-3 win over Newcastle United is a "good lesson" ahead of the Champions League final against Chelsea.

    City returned to the pitch for the first time since clinching the Premier League title this week and Guardiola's side survived a seven-goal shoot-out on Friday.

    Powered by a Ferran Torres hat-trick, City erased two deficits to set an English record with their 12th consecutive away win – one more milestone after securing their third league title in four years on Tuesday. 

    Following one or two days of "distractions" and just one training session, manager Guardiola said he was not expecting perfection against Newcastle as he made five changes to his XI, including giving 35-year-old goalkeeper Scott Carson his club debut. 

    Carson made his first Premier League appearance since May 2011 for West Brom, a gap of nine years and 357 days. It is the sixth longest gap between appearances in Premier League history, and the longest ever for a goalkeeper.

    With the ultimate prize looming in the Champions League final against Chelsea on May 29, Guardiola expects his team to learn from their close call in Newcastle.

    Guardiola said during his post-match news conference after City recorded their 23rd consecutive unbeaten away game in all competitions (W21 D2) – the longest ever undefeated away run by a side in the top four tiers of English football, overtaking Notts County's run of 22 in 2012.

    "The way they fought and the way they run and the way they come back after 1-0, after 3-2, and being there and making a step forward – they know it. It's not necessary to tell them.

    "They know if you want to win or compete against Chelsea in the final, of course you have to earn it.

    "It's better to happen today. Then maybe, maybe it's not going to happen in the final."

    Ferran Torres – who arrived from Valencia at the start of the season – became the youngest ever player to score a hat-trick for a team managed by Guardiola (21 years and 75 days), overtaking Gabriel Jesus who was 21 years and 218 days against Shakhtar Donetsk in November 2018.

    "I'm delighted for the three goals," Guardiola said. "He has incredible numbers for a first season in England, he has incredible numbers. He didn't play for a period of two months, he didn't play much and he came as a winger who can play on both sides.

    "He can make incredible runs in behind but maybe we have to start to think about if he can play as a striker because every time he plays in that position he has a sense for goal, a real sense for goal.

    "Today he produced an incredible first goal with the header, but the last two... I think the last one is an example of that intuition. It's intuitive, to know exactly where the ball comes and being there to score a goal.

    "He was fantastic all season and an incredible signing for us. He's a young player and can play in three positions up front. Not just in one, he can play in three. But playing in the more central position the guy has an incredible sense of goal."

  • Ohtani's start for Angels pushed back due to fatigue Ohtani's start for Angels pushed back due to fatigue

    Shohei Ohtani's next start for the Los Angeles Angels has been pushed back due to fatigue, according to manager Joe Maddon.

    Ohtani was scheduled to start on the mound against the Cleveland Indians in MLB action on Tuesday but those plans have changed.

    Maddon said the Angels are being cautious with the two-way star, who remained in the line-up as a designated hitter against the Boston Red Sox on Friday.

    "We're going to move him back, but we don't know to when," Maddon said prior Friday's clash with the Red Sox.

    "But there's no blisters. Nothing. Just being proactive. It's in his best interest, too.

    "To me, the day after he pitched the other day, he looked a little bit fatigued at the plate. It set off a little bit of an alarm for me."

    Japanese sensation Ohtani has been red-hot for the Angels this season.

    On the mound, Ohtani boasts a 2.10 ERA through five starts, with 40 strikeouts while allowing just 11 hits, six earned runs and two homers after giving up just one run across seven innings against the Houston Astros on Tuesday.

    Ohtani, meanwhile, has 11 home runs as a hitter this season, plus 37 hits, 27 runs and 27 RBI. He boasts a .266 batting average, .311 OBP, .604 SLG and .915 OPS.

    Maddon added: "We're just giving him time to recover. I'm just concerned about when he's going so well offensively and maybe if he's a little fatigued, he'll want to keep going back out there again.

    "If you're feeling good, you might wanna fight that fatigue. But I think the conversations, as we get deeper into the season, will be a little bit more involved.

    "I expected that from the beginning and we're not there yet, but you want to avoid any fatigue that can compromise him in any way."

  • Burns takes AT&T Byron Nelson lead with career-low 62, Spieth slides and Koepka misses cut Burns takes AT&T Byron Nelson lead with career-low 62, Spieth slides and Koepka misses cut
© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.