Prior to Sunday’s game, Cleveland Browns defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson said that he wanted to see Mason Rudolph start for the Pittsburgh Steelers. “Did you see him last game?”, was his reasoning when asked. Unfortunately for him and the Browns, they didn’t get what he wanted.
Head coach Mike Tomlin opted to start rookie undrafted free agent Devlin Hodges instead, and he delivered winning football. Outside of the fact that the Browns dominated time of possession early on, it didn’t take long for them to start noticing that.
Will Graves of the Associated Press Tweeted after the game that he was told by Richardson he knew after he saw Hodges’ first pass that the young guy would be able to play. That might not be immediately obvious visually about a 6’1”, 210-pound guy. Chances are, a lot of Browns didn’t know much about the Samford product heading into the game.
They probably do now, though. He was, essentially, the Steelers’ fourth-string quarterback, and they just lost to him in a game that they absolutely needed. They have now dropped two games below .500 once again, with just four games left to play. If they lose one more game, then they can’t possibly achieve a winning record in 2019, which would continue an unenviable streak spanning over a decade.
While it took the offense about a quarter and a half to really get going, they dominated the middle third of the game, scoring on four consecutive drives, and they were able to find some success closing out the game as well, even though they did ultimately have to punt.
“We can’t lose anymore”, Richardson said, according to Graves, after the game in the locker room. “It’s just that simple. One week at a time and we on to the next week. We dropped the ball on this week, on to next week. Short-term memory”.
Freddie Kitchens talked about the team continuing to embrace the “1-0 mentality”, which is basically another way of saying that they take it one game at a time, but when there are only four games left and you’re at a minimum two games behind for a playoff spot, it starts to look a little more daunting.
“It’s unlikely but we’ll see”, Richardson said of their playoff chances. “I expect to go to the playoffs every year. That’s how I play. I ran into a heater and got back out there. It is what it is. You can cancel us off if you want to, but we’re gonna keep fighting until the end”.