The Pittsburgh Steelers have a pretty long and storied history of putting a hurting on the Cleveland Browns, and sometimes more than just the scoreboard. I believe it’s happened more than once that they have fired a coach just after Pittsburgh dominated them in a game.
Now, they have ended the Browns’ best start since they had Bill Belichick as head coach, putting the brakes on a four-game winning streak that saw them at 4-1. Even though they are still 4-2, which is excellent by their standards, however, they don’t appear to be taking it particularly well.
“I’d say the feeling throughout the building after that loss, 4-2 has never felt so much like 0-6 before”, Baker Mayfield was quoted as saying after being pulled from Sunday’s blowout loss. “That’s because we have very high expectations for ourselves. We’re eager to get back to work and to get out there and fix the problems that we know are within our own control”.
Had the Browns defeated the Steelers, they would have been tied with the Baltimore Ravens for the best record in the division, though the Ravens would have owned first place by virtue of their head-to-head victory over Cleveland.
Instead, they are now sitting in third place in the division, though there is still plenty of time left in the season for them to make up ground, and they were putting up a lot of points on offense before they ran into Pittsburgh’s defense.
“I have to have a short memory playing quarterback”, Mayfield added. “That’s for the good and the bad but especially the bad. Getting back to the basics, finding completions. It’s tough when you’re in a momentum swing like that to get back on track, but at this position, you have to be able to do that. It is about finding completions and getting back to basics”.
During their four-game winning streak, Mayfield completed 72 of 113 pass attempts for 787 yards with eight touchdowns to three interceptions. Those are not groundbreaking numbers, but they are the sort of numbers that won’t get you beat.
Against the Steelers, he completed just 10 of 18 passes for 119 yards by the time he was pulled, and had thrown two interceptions. He did throw one touchdown, but it already felt too little, too late by that point in the game—even though it was still in the first half.
The good news for Cleveland is that they have the easiest remaining schedule in the league, with the Bengals up next. They also have the Texans, Eagles, and Jaguars to look forward to coming out of their bye week, as well as late-season outings against the Jets and Giants.