Pittsburgh Steelers fans are beside themselves and want everybody fired when the team goes 9-6-1 and misses the postseason once. The Cleveland Browns fanbase just went 18 years without a postseason berth, until finally securing one with last night’s victory over a Steelers team that was resting a number of key starters.
The last time the Browns were in the postseason was all the way back in 2002, which was the first year of the new divisional alignment and the creation of the AFC North. They finished second to the Steelers in the division that year, and had a 17-point lead on the home team in the second half before Tommy Maddox sparked them to an improbable comeback.
Mason Rudolph threatened to marshal a comeback, ultimately falling short of tying the game with under 90 seconds to go when a two-point conversion attempt fell short. The Browns were able to run out the clock and secure the victory, and thus a postseason berth, with quarterback Baker Mayfield scrambling for the clinching first down.
“It is a moment I will definitely never forget”, he said after the game about getting the Browns into the postseason for the first time since he was a little kid, but noted that they have not intentions of stopping there.
“First off, I want to start by saying the cliché thing – I truly do mean this and everyone in our locker room honestly believes it – we are not satisfied”, he said. “We expected to be here. We have worked extremely hard to get here. We are excited to have a chance to be the playoffs”.
It’s been even longer since the Browns actually won a playoff game, back in 1994 when Bill Belichick was still their head coach—literally before Mayfield was even born. He and many others on the team understand just how much baggage they are carrying on their shoulders.
“The feeling of walking off the field and the energy in the stadium, playing ‘Cleveland Rocks’ I can see an old school video going on and I can look up and see old school highlights of players like Brian Sipe, Bernie Kosar and some old-schoolers on there and for it to be that loud with the limited number of fans, it is a special moment for us”, he noted.
Next week, of course, they will be facing the Steelers again, and it will be in Pittsburgh, in Heinz Field, the site of one of their most lopsided defeats of the season, falling 38-7. And this will be a much more competitive team in the postseason, not resting starters, as they did yesterday.