No upset occurred as the Cleveland Browns finished the 2015 NFL season with a 3-13 record.
Rapid Reaction: First Half
Usually two first quarter turnovers are a good thing. But for the Cleveland Browns, it is never that simple. A fumble by Pittsburgh wide receiver Antonio Brown and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger‘s interception gave the Browns two great chances to put points on the board.
Instead, the net gain from both possessions was three points. To make matters worse, the Browns managed only 19 total yards in the first quarter. If we hoped to play spoiler, that is not how you do it.
Safety Tashaun Gipson was forced to start at cornerback due to all of the injuries in the secondary. Usually, putting Gipson on the field is a good thing. But in a match up at times with Brown, he allowed the Steelers receiver to go over 100 yards only moments into the second quarter. Ouch. At least safety Jordan Poyer showed up to play. He has two interceptions on the year, both off of Roethlisberger.
Speaking of Brown, just wow. With a touchdown grab just shy of a minute to go in the first half, Brown took advantage of a patchwork Browns secondary to the tune of 10 catches, 150 yards, and a touchdown in the first half alone. That is an incredible line for an entire game, let alone just a half of football. It is no surprise that Brown was targeted 11 times by Big Ben with the injuries to the Browns defense.
Defending Brown was easily the biggest mismatch on the field in this game. The only time Brown had a better matchup against Cleveland was when former punter Spencer Lanning tried to tackle him with his face. We all know how that one worked out.
Quarterback Austin Davis was under some serious pressure early on. He was sacked four times, with the most painful coming on third down deep in Pittsburgh territory. He held the ball far too long and was dropped at the 27 yard line, forcing the Browns to settle for another Travis Coons field goal.
Then at the end of the half, three straight shots into the end zone failed, giving us another Coons field goal. Much like with the turnovers, the Browns cannot let scoring opportunities fizzle away.
Next: Rapid Reaction: Second Half