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Cleveland Browns 48-37 Pittsburgh Steelers: Incredible first quarter leads Browns to first playoff win since 1994

Baker Mayfield throws for 263 yards and three touchdowns, while Ben Roethlisberger finishes with 501 yards passing for four touchdowns and four interceptions as the Cleveland Browns beat the Pittsburgh Steelers after building a stunning 28-0 first-quarter lead

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The best of the action as the Cleveland Browns beat the Pittsburgh Steelers 48-37 on Sunday in the NFL Wild Card Round at Heinz Field

The Cleveland Browns vented 18 years of pent-up playoff misery as they clinched their first postseason victory since the 1994 season with a stunning 48-37 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers to set up a Divisional Round matchup with the Kansas City Chiefs. 

The Browns will travel to face the Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday as they continue their first playoff challenge since the 2002 season, when they were eliminated by the Steelers in the Wild Card round.

A staggering opening at Heinz Field saw Karl Joseph recover a botched snap in the end zone on the first play of the game as the Browns coasted to a 28-0 lead before entering the interval up 35-10 after three first-half interceptions from Ben Roethlisberger.

Momentum appeared to swing in the second half when Roethlisberger threatened to mount a comeback with back-to-back touchdown passes to Eric Ebron and JuJu Smith-Schuster, until Nick Chubb's 40-yard touchdown run settled any lingering nerves.

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Cleveland quarterback Baker Mayfield starred as the Browns beat the Steelers for their first win in the playoffs since 1994

The Steelers refused to lie down and were back in the end zone through rookie wide receiver Chase Claypool, but eventually saw their chances of an unlikely turnaround fade late in the fourth quarter when Sione Takitaki came up with Roethlisberger's fourth interception on the day.

It marked the Browns' first win in Pittsburgh since October 2003, coming in the absence of head coach Kevin Stefanski after he and a number of other coaches were required to self-isolate at home due to positive COVID tests.

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It was a nightmare start for the Steelers with the botched snap leading to a touchdown for the Browns
  • Browns passing: Baker Mayfield, 21/34, 263 yards, 3 TDs
  • Rushing leader: Nick Chubb, 18 carries, 76 yards
  • Receiving leader: Jarvis Landry, five catches, 92 yards, 1 TD

The night started disastrously for the Steelers when Maurkice Pouncey's snap cleared Roethlisberger before being pounced on by Joseph in the end zone for the touchdown on the opening play.

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Roethlisberger was intercepted by MJ Stewart on the next drive as the Browns cashed in through a 40-yard catch-and-run to the house from Jarvis Landry, before Kareem Hunt rewarded a defensive stop by bullying his way to an 11-yard touchdown run after Rashard Higgins' 12-yard setup catch.

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An amazing first quarter saw Cleveland build an unassailable 28-0 lead

Hunt scurried in for an eight-yard score to punish another Roethlisberger interception moments later, this time courtesy of Sheldrick Redwine on a pass that had flown through the hands of Diontae Johnson.

  • Steelers passing: Ben Roethlisberger, 47/68, 501 yards, 4 TDs, 4 INTs
  • Rushing leader: James Conner, 11 carries, 37 yards, 1 TD
  • Receiving leader: JuJu Smith-Schuster, 13 catches, 157 yards, 1 TD

Roethlisberger was intercepted for a third time in the half when Porter Gustin collected Vincent Taylor's bat down, the Steelers defense, however, producing the stop in response.

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Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger threw four interceptions as Cleveland secured their first playoff win since 1994

A glimmer of hope for Pittsburgh arrived when James Conner iced a 13-play drive with a one-yard touchdown run with two minutes to go, only for Mayfield to float a seven-yard strike to Austin Hooper after converting a crucial third down with a brave run earlier in the series. There was still time in the half for another Steelers attempt, ending in a 49-yard field goal from Chris Boswell.

Scoring summary

Browns 7-0 Steelers Karl Joseph fumble recovery in the end zone (extra point)
Browns 14-0 Steelers Baker Mayfield 40-yard TD pass to Jarvis Landry (extra point)
Browns 21-0 Steelers Kareem Hunt 11-yard rushing TD (extra point)
Browns 28-0 Steelers Kareem Hunt eight-yard rushing TD (extra point)
Browns 28-7 Steelers James Conner one-yard rushing TD (extra point)
Browns 35-7 Steelers Baker Mayfield seven-yard TD pass to Austin Hooper (extra point)
Browns 35-10 Steelers Chris Boswell 49-yard field goal
Browns 35-16 Steelers Ben Roethlisberger 17-yard TD pass to Eric Ebron (2PT conversion fails)
Browns 35-23 Steelers Ben Roethlisberger five-yard TD pass to JuJu Smith-Schuster (extra point)
Browns 42-23 Steelers Nick Chubb 40-yard rushing TD (extra point)
Browns 42-29 Steelers Ben Roethlisberger 29-yard TD pass to Chase Claypool (extra point)
Browns 48-29 Steelers Cody Parkey 24-yard field goal
Browns 48-37 Steelers Ben Roethlisberger seven-yard TD pass to Chase Claypool (2PT conversion)

Cleveland's nerves were tested further early in the third quarter when Roethlisberger linked up with Ebron for a 17-yard touchdown, on which they failed with the two-point conversion attempt, followed by a five-yard strike to Smith-Schuster to make it 35-23 at the end of a 12-play drive.

Mike Tomlin was then made to regret not going for it on fourth-and-one as Chubb burst through for a 40-yard touchdown run to strengthen the Browns' grip on the game early in the fourth.

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Nick Chubb sprinted 40 yards for the touchdown

Claypool delivered an immediate response by reeling in a 29-yard touchdown reception, but the Steelers were again unsuccessful with the two-point conversion attempt.

Takitaki's interception with just over three minutes to play all-but sealed the game in Cleveland's favour, although Pittsburgh struck again through a seven-yard catch from Claypool followed by a successful two-point attempt.

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