Browns’ playoff hopes end the day before the Steelers game

CLEVELAND – Things looked as promising as they could given the situation the Cleveland Browns placed themselves in heading into the home stretch of the season as they aimed for the playoffs. But fortune did not favor the Browns on Sunday, and the scenarios that could have kept them in control of their fate did not all work.

For the Browns to have a shot at winning the AFC North title on Sunday, the Baltimore Ravens had to lose to the Los Angeles Rams and the Cincinnati Bengals had to lose to the Kansas City Chiefs. Both scenarios looked realistic.

But while the Rams were able to rally and take a late-game lead to beat the Ravens 20-19, the Bengals, led by Joe Burrow and his rookie weapon Ja’Marr Chase, outlasted the Chiefs and won 34- 31 on a 20-yard field goal as the seconds ticked off the clock.

The Bengals were the game that absolutely had to go in the right direction for the Browns. The victory saw Cincinnati claim the AFC North title. If they had lost and the Ravens had won, the Browns could still have won the division by winning followed by a Steelers victory over Baltimore in Week 18.

Sadly, the easier path to the playoffs has been scrapped with the Bengals’ winning placement – one more sting as the Browns have faced some serious kicking issues this season.

Things weren’t quite over for the Browns after those games. There was always a scenario in which the Browns would earn a Wild Card playoff berth if, and only if, they won this season. For that to happen, a lot of other things had to happen as well.

It was a big request for the Denver Broncos to beat the Los Angeles Chargers, and the wait came true with the Chargers knocking out the Broncos and officially ending the Browns’ playoff hopes, 34-13. .

The Browns have two more games to go, but who will take the field now that the playoffs are officially out of the equation, remains to be seen. Quarterback Baker Mayfield suffered a shoulder injury all season, Myles Garrett suffered a groin injury and Kareem Hunt was returning from an ankle injury, among other injuries the starters suffered this season. These players could simply rest to avoid injury in the remaining two games.

This season the offense became stagnant and stale, the defense ended up struggling but eventually gained the upper hand after adding a slew of new pieces during the offseason and the special teams unit tried to make sense of each other. . It wasn’t the season everyone expected after the way the Browns played in 2020. And now, sadly, it’s back to the old adage: there’s always next year.

Camryn Justice is a digital content producer at News 5 Cleveland. Follow her on twitter @camijustice.

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