At long last, Cleveland is back in the postseason.
The Browns clinched their first playoff berth since 2002 with a 24-22 victory over the Steelers, ending the league’s longest postseason drought.
Though the Steelers started Mason Rudolph and kept many of their key players on the sideline, they made the Browns work to win.
Cleveland began the fourth quarter with a three-yard touchdown run by Jarvis Landry to go up 24-9. But Rudolph threw a 28-yard TD to Chase Claypool to cut the advantage to eight. And after the Browns failed to convert a fourth-and-7 in Pittsburgh territory, the Steelers took seven plays to get down the field and scored on JuJu Smith-Schuster‘s two-yard touchdown with 1:23 on the clock.
But Rudolph’s pass to Chase Claypool on the two-point conversion attempt was high and incomplete. Cleveland recovered the onside kick and Baker Mayfield ran for three yards on third-and-2 to seal the victory.
Mayfield finished the game 17-of-27 passing for 196 yards with a touchdown. He had 44 yards rushing.
Nick Chubb went over 1,000 yards for the second consecutive season and recorded his 12th rushing touchdowns — the most for a Browns back since Leroy Kelly in 1968. He had 108 yards on 14 carries on Sunday.
Rudolph finished 22-of-39 passing for 315 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. Chase Claypool had five catches for 101 yards with a TD.
With the Browns, Ravens, and Bills winning in the 1 p.m. window, Cleveland will have a rematch with Pittsburgh for the wild card round next week. The Steelers are the AFC’s No. 3 seed and the Browns are at No. 6.
But next week’s contest should look a lot different with Pittsburgh playing at home and with all of its starters.