NFL Playoffs: Browns secure first playoff win since 1994 as Roethlisberger struggles

By Sports Desk January 10, 2021

The Cleveland Browns claimed their first playoff win since 1994 with a 48-37 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday.

An incredible 28-point first quarter set up the Browns' victory at Heinz Field in their first playoff game since 2002.

Baker Mayfield completed 21 of 34 passes for 263 yards and three touchdowns, while Kareem Hunt rushed for two TDs.

Meanwhile, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was intercepted four times, throwing four TDs after completing 47 of 68 for 501 yards. The 47 completions were the most in a game in NFL history.

It was a series of early errors that cost the Steelers, the third seeds giving up 28 points in the opening quarter of the Wild Card round.

A bad snap led to Karl Joseph's touchdown after just 14 seconds and the Browns – without Kevin Stefanski after the head coach tested positive for coronavirus amid an outbreak at the organisation – piled on the points to begin the contest.

Roethlisberger, making his 22nd postseason start to break a tie with John Elway for the fifth most all-time, was intercepted by MJ Stewart Jr. and the Browns capitalised immediately, Mayfield finding Jarvis Landry with a 40-yard TD pass.

Hunt would rush for two scores to finish the quarter, either side of another Roethlisberger interception, as the Browns opened up a 28-0 lead.

The Steelers reduced the deficit in the second quarter before Roethlisberger connected with Eric Ebron and JuJu Smith-Schuster in the third, closing the gap to 35-23.

But Mayfield and Nick Chubb connected for a 40-yard TD early in the fourth quarter, all but ending the contest despite the Steelers' late push.

Turning point – Browns gifted dream start

Cleveland could not have dreamt of a better start to their first playoff game since 2002.

A bad snap went over Roethlisberger's head just seconds into the game and the Browns capitalised through Joseph.

It set the scene for the Browns and the rattled Steelers conceded a defining 28 points in the opening quarter. It was the most scored by any team in the first quarter of a playoff game since the 1970 NFL merger, as per NFL Research.

Browns get rolling

The Browns' 48 points marked the second time in franchise history they have scored 40-plus points in an NFL playoff game, according to NFL Research.

Cleveland's offense was allowed to get rolling early and they made the most of it.

What's next?

The Browns face the difficult task of a trip to Arrowhead Stadium to face defending champions the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Divisional Round on January 17.

Pittsburgh fell away after making an 11-0 start to the season and much of the talk about the Steelers is set to focus on the future of 38-year-old QB Roethlisberger.

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