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- 09/09/18--15:22: _Cleveland Browns: C...
- 09/09/18--16:51: _Beer drinkers were ...
- 09/09/18--15:43: _T.J. Watt helps Pit...
- 09/09/18--15:55: _What should we thin...
- 09/09/18--16:11: _Slumping Jose Ramir...
- 09/09/18--16:29: _Were the Steelers o...
- 09/09/18--17:43: _Cleveland Browns My...
- 09/09/18--17:48: _US Open 2018: Novak...
- 09/09/18--18:29: _Cleveland Browns' T...
- 09/09/18--18:47: _Browns forced turno...
- 09/09/18--11:02: _Rodney Hood accepts...
- 09/09/18--19:35: _Myles Garrett has a...
- 09/09/18--19:36: _Why the Browns felt...
- 09/09/18--22:28: _Tyrod Taylor has a ...
- 09/10/18--02:05: _Cleveland Indians, ...
- 09/10/18--03:03: _Cleveland Browns Sc...
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- 09/09/18--15:22: Cleveland Browns: Can fans feel OK with tie? -- Terry Pluto
- 09/09/18--16:51: Beer drinkers were the real losers in Browns-Steelers tie
- The play of quarterback Tyrod Taylor.
- The six takeaways by the Cleveland defense.
- Myles Garrett's day.
- And what the Browns need to improve before next week's game at New Orleans.
- 09/09/18--16:29: Were the Steelers offsides on Zane Gonzalez's missed field goal?
- Result: QB Tyrod Taylor, from under center, scrambled right for 6 yards.
- Skinny: Taylor rolled and didn't like what he saw.
- Result: Taylor, from under center, complete to TE David Njoku on left for 1 yard.
- Skinny: Taylor under pressure. Steelers easily diagnosed play.
- Result: Taylor, from shotgun, scramble up middle for 15 yards.
- Skinny: Taylor made terrific play.
- Result: Taylor, from shotgun, incomplete intended for Njoku on right.
- Skinny: Pass into traffic too high on seam route. (In preseason at Giants, it was wide-open). Njoku only got glove on it.
- Result: Taylor, from shotgun, incomplete intended for WR Jarvis Landry on left.
- Skinny: Slant pass on-target, but CB Mike Hilton was glued to Landry and knocked ball away.
- Result: Taylor, from under center, sacked for minus-5 yards.
- Skinny: LB T.J. Watt roughing passer penalty after whistle. Taylor dinged.
- Result: Taylor, from shotgun, incomplete intended for RB Carlos Hyde on right.
- Result: Taylor, from shotgun, scramble right for 1 yard.
- Result: Taylor, from shotgun, incomplete intended for RB Duke Johnson Jr. on right.
- Skinny: Taylor uncertain and inaccurate during series. This particular pass led Johnson too much.
- Result: Taylor, from shotgun, complete to Hyde on left for minus-2 yards.
- Skinny: Hyde caught pass at Cleveland 15. Play had minimal chance for anything.
- Result: Taylor, from shotgun, incomplete intended for Landry over middle.
- Skinny: Pass deflected at line. Questionable decision by Taylor because Landry was open at Cleveland 28 but surrounded by Steelers. Landry likely would have been tackled far short of first down.
- Result: Taylor, from under center, complete to Landry on right for 33 yards.
- Skinny: Landry wide-open on out-and-up against CB Joe Haden. He made terrific adjustment to under-thrown pass and caught it while falling to ground.
- Result: Taylor, from shotgun, incomplete on right sideline.
- Skinny: Taylor rolled right, where DE Stephon Tuitt was waiting. Taylor throwaway under pressure. WR Rashard Higgins in neighborhood.
- Result: Taylor, from under center, scramble right for 1 yard.
- Skinny: Taylor unable to escape DT Cameron Heyward.
- Result: Taylor, from shotgun, intended for Landry on right intercepted by S Sean Davis at Pittsburgh 26 NULLIFIED by S Terrell Edmunds holding Landry.
- Result: Taylor, from shotgun, complete to Landry over middle for 1 yard, plus Gordon unnecessary roughness.
- Skinny: Shovel pass took too long to get started. Terrible call against Gordon. Browns forced to punt.
- Result: Taylor, from under center, scrambles left for 3 yards.
- Result: Taylor, from under center, complete to TE Darren Fells on right for 12 yards.
- Skinny: Screen. Fells made catch at Cleveland 27.
- Result: Taylor, from under center, sacked by LB Jon Bostic for minus-7 yards.
- Skinny: RB Nick Chubb too late sliding over as Bostic came free from Pittsburgh's left.
- Result: Taylor, from shotgun, sacked for minus-8 yards by LB Bud Dupree and fumble recovered by Browns G Joel Bitonio.
- Skinny: Taylor had no chance.
- Result: Taylor, from under center, sacked by Watt for minus-10 yards.
- Skinny: Watt, coming from Pittsburgh left, easily beat Fells.
- Result: Taylor, from under center, scramble left for 20-yard touchdown.
- Skinny: Taylor didn't like first or second read, then escaped pocket and out-ran DE Tyson Alualu to edge. Taylor drilled by CB Artie Burns at goal line.
- Result: Taylor, from under center, complete to Njoku on right for 8 yards.
- Skinny: Taylor plenty of time before rolling right and checking down. Njoku dinged.
- Result: Taylor, from under center, incomplete intended for Landry on right.
- Skinny: Haden blanketed Landry as ball landed beyond them inside Pittsburgh 45 at sideline.
- Result: Taylor, from shotgun, sacked by Watt for minus-5 yards.
- Skinny: Coverage sack. Aerial shot from CBS showed Taylor had nobody open.
- Result: Taylor, from shotgun, incomplete intended for Johnson on left.
- Skinny: Blitz pressure from Pittsburgh's right forced early pass at Johnson's feet.
- Result: Taylor, from shotgun, complete to Landry on left for 39 yards.
- Skinny: Taylor bought time in pocket. Landry wide-open near sideline and made catch at Cleveland 40. Landry tackled, landed on football.
- Result: Taylor, from under center, incomplete intended for Gordon over middle in end zone.
- Skinny: Haden blanket coverage, pass defensed. Haden's right hand hit Gordon's face-shield a tad early but penalty not called. Taylor was on-target.
- Result: Taylor, from shotgun, incomplete intended for Njoku on right.
- Skinny: Quick pass to beat blitz was too hot for open Njoku on seam. Still, Njoku drifted toward ball, reached and got a glove on it. Play should have been good for first down and more.
- Result: Taylor, from shotgun, incomplete intended for Njoku on right.
- Skinny: Njoku covered by Edmunds but should have made jumping catch near Pittsburgh 31 at sideline.
- Result: Taylor, under center, incomplete intended for Gordon NULLIFIED by Burns interference against Gordon near sideline.
- Result: Taylor, from shotgun, complete to Landry over middle for 6 yards.
- Skinny: Landry wide-open.
- Result: Taylor, from shotgun, sacked by Heyward for minus-11 yards.
- Skinny: Browns holding declined.
- Result: Taylor, from shotgun, complete to Njoku on right for 4 yards.
- Skinny: Taylor plenty of time against three-man rush. Njoku hit immediately.
- Result: Taylor, from shotgun, incomplete intended for Johnson on left.
- Skinny: Steelers pressure forced low screen pass. Illegal formation against LT Desmond Harrison declined.
- Result: Taylor, from shotgun, incomplete intended for Landry on right.
- Skinny: Pass, from clean pocket, took a tad too long to arrive. CB Mike Hilton was able to close and break it up at Pittsburgh 37.
- Result: Taylor, from shotgun, scramble left for 24 yards.
- Skinny: Taylor spun from Dupree immediate pressure. More than a few QB's would have been sacked.
- Result: Taylor, from shotgun, incomplete intended for Higgins on right in end zone.
- Skinny: Essentially jump-ball to Higgins, who was well-covered by CB Cameron Sutton near sideline.
- Result: Taylor, from shotgun, incomplete intended for WR Antonio Callaway on left.
- Skinny: Taylor, pressured immediately by Dupree, threw it out of bounds. Callaway covered near Pittsburgh 5.
- Result: Taylor, from shotgun, incomplete intended for Johnson on left.
- Skinny: Screen pass from pressured Taylor never got there. Steelers were all over it, regardless.
- Result: Taylor, from shotgun, complete to Taylor for minus-5 yards NULLIFIED by Steelers offside.
- Skinny: Dupree beat Harrison and flicked ball out of Taylor's hands.
- Result: Taylor, from shotgun, incomplete intended for Landry on left in end zone.
- Skinny: Browns missed blitz pickup, forcing Taylor to throw earlier than he wanted. Browns running backs continue to struggle with Steelers blitz.
- Result: Taylor, from shotgun, incomplete intended for Landry on short left.
- Skinny: Pass off hands of Landry, who would have been tackled a foot beyond line of scrimmage. Disastrous possession.
- Result: Taylor, from shotgun, complete to Higgins on right for 38 yards.
- Skinny: Excellent pass. Higgins slipped past Sutton at sideline.
- Result: Taylor, from shotgun, complete to Gordon on right for 17-yard touchdown.
- Skinny: Gordon fantastic catch while being blanketed by Sutton at front of end zone.
- Result: Taylor, from shotgun, incomplete on right.
- Skinny: Taylor buys time, throws ball away to sideline. Higgins in neighborhood.
- Result: Taylor, from shotgun, complete to Landry for 11 yards on right.
- Skinny: Taylor waits against three-man rush, rolls right, finds Landry in zone crease.
- Result: Taylor, from shotgun, complete to Landry on left for 9 yards.
- Skinny: Landry tackled before he could get out of bounds.
- Result: Taylor, from under center, incomplete (spike) NULLIFIED by Steelers penalty for 12 men on field.
- Result: Taylor, from shotgun, intended for Gordon intercepted by Sutton on right sideline at Pittsburgh 8.
- Skinny: Pass under-thrown, Sutton capitalized.
- Result: Taylor, from shotgun, complete to Landry on right for 7 yards.
- Skinny: Taylor bought time, rolled right and threw low and behind Landry. Terrific catch.
- Result: Taylor, from under center, incomplete intended for Njoku on right.
- Skinny: Taylor locked onto Njoku. Sean Davis read Taylor's eyes and moved across to knock away pass at Steelers 48. Fells appeared to be wide-open in middle of field, but he didn't have his head turned toward the target and Davis probably peeled off him.
- Result: Taylor, from under center, sacked by Watt for minus-1 yard.
- Skinny: Taylor saw no one open, rolled right, knocked out of bounds.
- Result: Taylor, from shotgun, complete to Johnson on right for 8 yards.
- Skinny: Quality play by Sutton, who made open-field tackle.
- Result: Taylor, from shotgun, incomplete intended for Landry short over middle.
- Skinny: Landry illegal-motion penalty declined.
- Result: Taylor, from shotgun, incomplete intended for Johnson on right.
- Skinny: Taylor under siege by blitz. Pass landed beyond Johnson at Cleveland 30.
- Result: Taylor, from shotgun, incomplete intended for Landry on left.
- Skinny: Taylor stepped up in pocket, over-shot Landry. Officials missed blatant hold by Burns against Gordon.
- Result: Taylor spike to stop clock (:13 left).
- 09/10/18--02:05: Cleveland Indians, Tampa Bay Rays series preview, pitching matchups
- 09/10/18--03:03: Cleveland Browns Scribbles: Does winning start here? -- Terry Pluto
- 09/10/18--03:59: How should Ohio State use Tate Martell?
- 09/10/18--04:05: PGA Tour 2018: Live leaderboard for BMW Championship final round
- 09/10/18--05:06: FedExCup Playoffs 2018: Projected Top 30 in standings
The Cleveland Browns usually lose to the Pittsburgh Steelers. They usually lose their opening game. They didn't do either...but they still didn't win.
CLEVELAND, Ohio -- If you're a Browns fan, you feel...what?
Your team didn't lose.
Your team easily could have lost, and your team was playing the Pittsburgh Steelers.
So that's good news.
But how do you handle a final score of 21-21?
"A tie," Browns coach Hue Jackson said.
"A tie," Jackson said again, this time biting down hard on his lower lip.
Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said: "It's an awkward feeling."
It wasn't a loss for a team that had lost 17 in a row dating to Christmas Eve 2016. But it wasn't a win for a team that still desperately needs one.
And what do you say about a possible Zane Gonzalez game-winning field goal that was blocked with 13 seconds left in overtime? Jackson thought the Steelers had jumped offsides. Maybe. Maybe not. But no penalty was called.
And the Browns are still undefeated...and winless...in 2018.
WHAT IT MEANS
These are not The Same Old Browns.
For years, Browns fans have watched their team lose close game after close game just like this to the Steelers and future Hall of Fame quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
But they didn't.
That's real progress.
The Browns defense was relentless, aggressive and so much fun to watch. They picked off Roethlisberger four times! They forced two fumbles.
This defense, which forced just 13 turnovers all of last season, had six on this rainy afternoon.
Myles Garrett....Oh, my goodness! The edge rusher had two sacks. He forced two fumbles. He drew two penalties. He was a force!
Cornerback Denzel Ward had two interceptions in his NFL debut with the Browns. The rookie from Nordonia and Ohio State was beaten for a touchdown on a great pass from Roethlisberger to Antonio Brown, another likely future Hall of Famer. But overall, Ward held his own against Brown.
"Denzel is made of the right stuff," Jackson said.
The defense wasn't great. It had some breakdowns, especially early in the game.
Pittsburgh's James Conner, taking over at running back for Le'Veon Bell, rushed for 135 yards, including 22 for a touchdown.
The Browns were behind, 21-7, with 7:34 left in the game, then the defense forced turnovers and opened the door for a comeback. The type of game-changing defense being built by coordinator Gregg Williams was on display -- and it could change things for the Browns.
"The guys (players) can see we're an improved football team," Jackson said.
HOW MANY PENALTIES?
In the preseason, the Browns first-string offense didn't play together very often.
When it did, the Browns were clunky and looked like a bunch of guys who didn't know each other.
Call them Strangers In The Rain.
The Browns starting offensive line didn't play a single preseason snap together. That's because Jackson waited until a week before the game to promote Desmond Harrison to starting left tackle.
While the new starting offensive line did practice together for a week or so, there was no game action.
Here's something I've never seen before: The offensive line was flagged for back-to-back false starts (Joel Bitonio and Harrison) on the first possession of the game.
Remember, the Browns were playing at home...so crowd noise was not an issue.
The Browns were flagged four times for false starts. They also committed an illegal-formation penalty.
Jackson said: "Those things, we need to clean up."
I wonder why they came up at all. Five pre-snap penalties...that's just not paying attention.
The Browns were penalized 11 times. Then again, Pittsburgh had a dirty dozen yellow flags heaved in its direction.
WHAT ABOUT TYROD?
New starting quarterback Tyrod Taylor was sacked seven times. Some were his fault as he held onto the ball too long, looking for a receiver.
But other times, he was under a lot of pressure. His mobility was a big plus. He ran for a 20-yard touchdown. He carried the ball eight times for 77 yards -- very helpful in a wet, soggy afternoon like this.
Early in the game, Taylor had zero chemistry with his receivers. He didn't seem to know where they were going -- and they weren't sure when the ball was coming to them.
Late in the fourth quarter, though, he connected on a beautiful 17-yard touchdown pass to Josh Gordon. And Gordon made a Gordon-like leaping catch, reminding everyone of what he can do on the field. But that was his only reception of the day.
Taylor was 15-of-40 for 197 yards. He had one TD pass, one interception.
I'm no going to rush into a grand conclusion on Taylor or the offense, other than it was nice to see only one turnover for the game. And odds are it should improve as the season goes along.
"Wins and losses, that's how a quarterback is judged," Taylor said. "But a tie?"
For the Browns, at least it's not a loss.
The next chance for the Bud Light victory fridges to be unlocked comes next Sunday as the Browns travel to New Orleans. The Saints, incidentally, were upset by the Buccaneers at home, 48-40.
CLEVELAND, Ohio -- For the first time since Dec. 24, 2016, the Browns did not lose. Local beer drinkers, however, can't say the same.
When kicker Zane Gonzalez lined up for a game-winning field goal with 13 seconds left, the chances of those Bud Light victory fridges magically opening at FirstEnergy Stadium and 10 local bars seemed good.
Gonzalez, as you probably know by now, missed the kick and the game between the Browns and Steelers ended in a 21-21 tie. Afterwards, Bud Light announced on Twitter that even though the tie technically ended the team's 17-game losing streak, the fridges would remain locked.
"Cleveland. You fought hard. Unfortunately, the #BrownsVictoryFridge only opens with a W. But after that game, we doubt they'll stay locked for long," the brand tweeted.
Cleveland. You fought hard. Unfortunately, the #BrownsVictoryFridge only opens with a W. But after that game, we doubt they'll stay locked for long.-- Bud Light (@budlight) September 9, 2018
The next chance for a free Bud Light comes Sunday when the Browns travel to New Orleans. The Saints, incidentally, were upset by the Buccaneers at home, 48-40.
So, we're saying there's a chance.
We've confirmed 7 of the 10 bars that have a free beer fridge for when the Browns win a game. Do you know the bars we're missing? pic.twitter.com/ur1eiLwt3i-- clevelanddotcom (@clevelanddotcom) September 6, 2018
T.J. Watt collected 11 tackles and four sacks in a tie against the Cleveland Browns. Watch video
CLEVELAND, Ohio -- T.J. Watt may have been all over the field on Sunday against the Cleveland Browns, but the impressive results of his play took him to a different place.
"This is weird," said Watt, linebacker for the Pittsburgh Steelers. "I don't know what in the heck a tie means. We've just got to keep playing and hope for a win to come soon."
Despite Watt's 11 tackles, four sacks, and a blocked field-goal attempt in the final seconds in overtime, the Browns and Steelers finished in a 21-21 tie at FirstEnergy Stadium.
It was the first tie in the opening week of the NFL season since 1971, when the Miami Dolphins and Denver Broncos ended their game at 10-10.
Which made Sunday's game almost a waste of Watt's efforts. He became the organization's first linebacker to record three or more sacks in a game since 2015. But more importantly, his block of a 43-yard field-goal attempt prevented the Steelers from losing to the Browns for the first time in four years.
"I got my hand on it," said Watt, who penetrated the middle of the line to make the play. "When the ball snapped, I just tried to do my job by getting penetration. I did. The ball hit my hand, and tie game."
The play preserved the tie. Although not a victory, it still provided the Steelers with some relief.
"T.J. had a heck of a game," Steelers defensive end Cameron Heyward said. "He's a Watt [younger brother of All-Pro J.J. of the Houston Texans]. He's making a name for himself. I'm just sad we didn't get the win for him."
Watt was even sadder for his team.
"I would've done anything for the win," he said. "We'll come back, watch the film and get to work this coming week."
BLOCKED.September 9, 2018
The Browns found their way back Sunday to earn a 21-21 tie vs. Pittsburgh.
CLEVELAND, Ohio -- The Browns clawed their way back Sunday at FirstEnergy Stadium to earn a 21-21 tie with the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 2018 season opener.
There's a lot to unpack here, and cleveland.com Browns beat reporters Mary Kay Cabot and Dan Labbe are back and joined by cleveland.com columnist Doug Lesmerises on a postgame Orange and Brown Talk Podcast to do just that.
They talk about:
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Jose Ramirez's batting average has dropped from .305 on August 14 to .282 following the Indians loss to Toronto on Sunday.
TORONTO - Some players can only dream about a 30-30 season. Thirty homers, 30 stolen bases represents the ideal combination of power and speed.
It happened for just the third time in Indians' history on Sunday afternoon when Jose Ramirez stole his 30th base in the first inning to go along with his 37 homers. After the game, a 6-2 loss to the rebuilding Blue Jays, Ramirez sat on a chair in the middle of the visitor's clubhouse at Rogers Centre.
He was not there to crow about his accomplishment. He was just sitting there in a dirty uniform, staring at nothing. Sometimes he'd shake his head. Thirty-thirty was the last thing on his mind.
The thousand-yard stare was well earned. Ramirez has been lost at the plate since mid-August. If an MVP season hasn't already slipped away from him, it's close.
When reporters approached, he seemed surprised. Ramirez put his hands up and said, "What?" As in what could you possibly want to talk to me about?
Then he was asked for his reaction about joining Joe Carter and Grady Sizemore as the only 30-30 players in franchise history. He turned to Will Clements, the Indians interpreter, and said, "I feel really happy about that. Thank, God."
It's been 6 years since someone hit 30 home runs and stole 30 bases in the same season.September 9, 2018
That was it. Short and sweet, but at that moment, Ramirez looked anything but happy. He was trying to get over another 0-for-4, the first three at-bats coming against rookie lefty Thomas Pannone, who was drafted and developed by the Indians. There was also another error to deal with, this one coming in the eighth inning and immediately followed by a three-run homer by Teoscar Hernandez that turned a one-run game in an easy 6-2 Toronto win.
But the questions kept coming. Did he always feel he had this combination of power and speed?
"I haven't always had that (combination), but everything kind of speaks for itself," said Ramirez. "Everyone can recognize what's going on, on the field now."
Ramirez's numbers still shine. He's hitting .282 (146-for-517) with 34 doubles, 37 homers and 97 RBI. He's scored 96 runs and stolen 30 bases in 36 attempts.
But since Aug. 14, the batting average has dropped from .305 to .282. He's hitting .167 (14-for-84) with one homer, eight RBI and two steals in that stretch. Manager Terry Francona says that as talented as players such as Ramirez are, the season is too long for them to avoid slumps.
And there seems to be an element of frustration creeping into Ramirez's game. He says that is not so.
"Frustration? No," said Ramirez. "I don't feel frustrated. I've never felt frustrated in my career. This is baseball. These things happen. I love baseball. I love to play it. As long as I'm good and my family is good I'll keep playing. We just have to keep battling every day and good results will come out."
Ramirez, like all good hitters, wasn't about to give the pitchers who have been working him over for the last few weeks too much credit. He pointed the finger at himself.
"It's something that's happening with me," said Ramirez. "The pitchers and their pitches are the same since the beginning of the season. I'm looking for a ball on the plate to hit, but sometimes the results don't come out as you want them to."
Slump or no slump, the accumulation of statistics by Ramirez cannot be ignored.
"Thirty-thirty is a special number," said teammate Francisco Lindor. "He's having a great season. I'm very happy for him."
Lindor has 34 homers and 23 steals with 19 regular season games left. What would it mean to him if he could join Ramirez as a 30-30 man?
"It means I'd tie my teammate," said Lindor with a smile.
Hue Jackson said on Sunday he thought the Steelers were offsides on Gonzalez's potential game-winning kick.
CLEVELAND, Ohio -- The Browns had their first win since 2016 lined up when Zane Gonzalez took the field with 13 seconds left on Sunday. T.J. Watt blocked the 43-yard attempt, though, and the Browns walked off with a tie.
"The miss at the end I think had nothing to do with the conditions," head coach Hue Jackson said after the game. "I would like to see the play because I thought someone was offside."
Gonzalez wouldn't go that far, but ...
"They were there, definitely, really quick," he said, "so, yeah, I kind of got that vibe."
Left guard Joel Bitonio, who was trying to hold Watt back on the play, among others, couldn't tell.
"I was in the heart of the play, so I couldn't really see what exactly happened," Bitonio said. "I know I had like three or four guys over the top of me and I think one of them blocked the kick."
In reality, based on the angles shown during the game, it's almost impossible to tell. It appeared that all Steelers players were lined up on the right side of the 25-yard line. The question is, did someone get a jump?
BLOCKED.September 9, 2018
If anything, the case could be made that the right side of the Steelers' line started early, but it's hard to tell without clearly seeing the ball start moving.
Gonzalez said the conditions didn't play a role in the missed kick. He said his range going in that direction Sunday was about 50 yards and pointed to two made extra points in the fourth quarter.
"Between (punter/placeholder Britton) Colquitt and (long snapper) Charley (Hughlett) snapping, we were feeling really good about it and then, like I said, just happened."
The ball, though, didn't appear to get much lift, allowing Watt to get a hand on it.
"The trajectory of the ball was kind of low. They were able to make a play. They made the play when they had to for this game to end in a tie."
And the Browns were left still searching for that elusive win.
"I'm being the person they got from the draft. I'm finally healthy and I'm trying to be the guy who can make the plays when we need them."
CLEVELAND, Ohio -- You can wonder if Von Miller wears dinosaur socks, or if Khalil Mack plays Elton John on his phone while getting dressed at his locker.
But you know they have won their teams football games in the NFL, and you know now that Myles Garrett -- who was wearing dinos on his toes, who was cranking "Honky Cat" after Sunday's 21-21 tie against Pittsburgh -- will do the same.
This time out, Garrett earned the Browns a tie, and know this for sure - that's a loss without him.
True greatness takes our breath away when it emerges from the mundane, and the Steelers were merely finishing off the Browns when Garrett flashed. It wasn't a sack, because there was no way the Steelers were going to risk that, up 21-7 with 7:44 to play, starting a series at their 18-yard-line after four straight incompletions from Browns QB Tyrod Taylor had turned the ball over on downs.
They were basically running out the clock, and doing what they had done for much of Sunday -- going away from Garrett.
The story was written -- rain falls, offense stagnates, Browns lose. That's the story you'd be reading right now, living with, talking about all week, if it wasn't for one player.
Garrett changed everything.
"He's an athletic, freaky, big type of guy," Pittsburgh All-Pro defensive tackle Cameron Heyward said after the game, "that puts a lot fear in those tackles, it doesn't matter who you play."
Think about how exceedingly normal this play was.
Ben Roethlisberger takes the snap from center. Normal.
Garrett in two steps is dipping under 6-foot-9 Steelers left tackle Alejandro Villanueva. Not normal.
Roethlisberger takes three steps back and hands the ball to James Conner as fullback Roosevelt Nix prepares to lead Conner through a hole. Normal.
Unbeknownst to Nix, Garrett is practically running up his back with an eye on Conner. Not normal.
Conner takes the ball 4 yards behind the line of scrimmage. Normal.
Garrett hits Conner 2 yards behind the line of scrimmage. Not normal.
Conner puts out his 311/4-inch left arm to try to stiff-arm Garrett. Normal.
Garrett reaches out his 351/4-inch arms, and as his left arm hits Conner in the chest, his right arm comes around from behind and knocks the football out. Not normal.
To reiterate. It. was. a. handoff.
And Myles Garrett almost turned it into a win.
"I'm being the person they got from the draft," Garrett said. "I'm finally healthy and I'm trying to be the guy who can make the plays when we need them."
Everything else that transpired in the stomach-churning last 17 minutes arose from that moment, the screaming, the beer throwing, the tortured field goal misses. The Browns had 235 yards of offense and 7 points when Garrett decided to be more than normal. That's where it was going to end.
Instead, Jabrill Peppers scooped up the fumble and on the next play, Carlos Hyde scored a 1-yard touchdown.
Then on the second play after Pittsburgh got it back, Roethlisberger picked up a low snap, the Steelers tried a protection scheme that had the right guard pull to block Garrett on the left side, Garrett's speed destroyed that plan, and his sack from behind knocked the ball free as the Browns recovered another fumble.
He was better than normal again and again. Garrett did it before, but never quite like this. But this will happen on other Sundays, and the Browns will win because of it.
That's why 1-15 in 2016 was worth it, why the overall No. 1 pick matters, why players make plays. They take the normal and do the extraordinary.
"That was impressive stuff by Myles today," Browns left guard Joel Bitonio said. "We see it in practice every day and we're amazed by it all the time. And to see him go out and produce a couple sacks and see him make some big things happen, it's really cool honestly. It gets the offense going when you've got a guy who's like, 'Hey, this guy can't be blocked at times.' "
It's that play from that player that makes it lunacy to me that anyone would treat this tie as a loss. Because many other years, for most other Browns teams, it would have been a loss. Those teams didn't have Myles Garrett and he made this happen. To not recognize that, and to bow your head and drag your feet and bemoan missed opportunities, sells short the opportunity granted to this team by that one guy.
He brought them back.
"Yes he did," Hue Jackson said.
That means something.
"I've said it before, I think he's going to have a great year," Jackson said. "He is showing that he was worthy of being the first player drafted a year ago. A healthy Myles Garrett means a ton to this organization and football team. He just has to do it week in and week out and be this player every week. If he will do that, good things will happen on defense."
You know what's normal for the Browns?
You know what's not normal?
A player who can change that, all by himself.
The victory Sunday comes a year after Djokovic sat out the tournament at Flushing Meadows because of an injured right elbow that eventually required surgery.
NEW YORK -- The U.S. Open final suddenly appeared to be slipping away from Novak Djokovic. He dropped three consecutive games. He was angered by a crowd roaring for his popular opponent, Juan Martin del Potro. He was, in short, out of sorts.
And then came Sunday's pivotal game, a 20-minute, 22-point epic. Three times, del Potro was a point from breaking and earning the right to serve to make it a set apiece. Three times, Djokovic steeled himself. Eventually, he seized that game -- and del Potro's best chance to make a match of it.
A year after missing the U.S. Open because of an injured right elbow that would require surgery, Djokovic showed that he is unquestionably back at his best and back at the top of tennis. His returns and defense-to-offense skills as impeccable as ever, Djokovic collected his 14th Grand Slam title and second in a row by getting through every crucial moment for a 6-3, 7-6 (4), 6-3 victory over 2009 champion del Potro at Flushing Meadows.
This was Djokovic's third championship in New York, along with those in 2011 and 2015. Add in the trophies he has earned at six Australian Opens, one French Open and four Wimbledons, most recently in July, and the 31-year-old Serb pulled even with Pete Sampras for the third-most majors among men, trailing only Roger Federer's 20 and Rafael Nadal's 17.
"I was hoping he was going to be here, but he's not," Djokovic said about Sampras. "He's my idol. Pete, I love you."
Federer lost in the fourth round in New York, while Nadal retired from his semifinal against del Potro because of a bad right knee. That put the 29-year-old Argentine back in a Grand Slam final for the first time since his breakthrough nine years ago, a comeback for a guy who had four wrist operations in the interim.
"I'd just like to congratulate Juan Martin ... for still having faith, for still having belief in himself," said Djokovic, who gave his pal a hug at the net, and then went over to console del Potro as he wiped away tears at his sideline seat. "I believe he'll be here again with the champion's trophy. I really do."
Del Potro spoke this week about the low point, in 2015, when he considered quitting the sport. But supported by a dozen or so friends from back home, whose "Ole!" choruses rang around the arena, he climbed up the rankings to a career-high No. 3 by thundering his 100 mph (160 kph) forehands and 135 mph (215 kph) serves.
Those produce free points against so many foes. Not against Djokovic, who always seemed to have all the answers.
Djokovic was better than del Potro on their many lengthy exchanges, using his trademark body-twisting, limb-splaying court coverage to get to nearly every ball, sneakers squeaking around the blue court in Arthur Ashe Stadium, where the roof was closed because of rain.
Never was that more apparent than the game that stood out on this evening: with Djokovic serving while down 4-3 in the second set. They went back and forth, through eight deuces and all those break opportunities for del Potro, until he slapped one forehand into the net, and another sailed wide.
The game went so long that when it ended, with Djokovic holding to 4-all, spectators began leaving their seats, perhaps thinking it was time for a changeover, even though it wasn't. That prompted to chair umpire Alison Hughes to chastise them.
It was a brief request, though, unlike her many other pleas for quiet, mainly as fans were shouting and chanting and clapping in support of del Potro. It all bothered Djokovic, who started yelling and gesturing toward the seats. At one moment, he pressed his right index finger to his lips, as if to say, "Shhhhhhh!" Later, after winning a point, Djokovic put that finger to his ear, as if to say, "Who are you cheering for now?!"
The tiebreaker was resolved thanks to more del Potro miscues on his forehand side, as he looked more and more fatigued. He made one last stand by breaking and holding for 3-all. But that was that.
When it ended, thanks to a three-game closing run by Djokovic, he flung his racket away and landed on his back, arms and legs spread wide.
"Of course I'm sad I (lost)," del Potro said. "But I'm happy for Novak and his team. They deserve to win."
Djokovic had never gone through an extended absence himself until 2017, when he sat out the second half of the season because of elbow pain that had plagued him for more than a year. He tried to return at the start of this season, but couldn't, and decided to have surgery in February.
It took him some time to find the right form, as evidenced by his quarterfinal loss at the French Open to a guy who was ranked 72nd and had never won a Grand Slam match until that tournament. Djokovic got right back to work, though, and announced that he was, once more, himself by winning at Wimbledon.
Now he's backed that up at the U.S. Open, the fourth time in his career he won multiple majors in a season.
"When I had the surgery in my elbow earlier this year, I could truly understand what Juan Martin was going through. Difficult times, but you learn through adversity," Djokovic said Sunday night. "I try to take the best out of myself in those moments."
-- By Howard Fendrich
Quarterback Tyrod Taylor was so-so in the Cleveland Browns' 21-21 tie with the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday in Cleveland.
CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Quarterback Tyrod Taylor went 15-of-40 for 197 yards and one touchdown in the Cleveland Browns' tie with the Pittsburgh Steelers, 21-21, Sunday afternoon at rainy FirstEnergy Stadium. Taylor was intercepted once and sacked seven times. He had eight carries for a team-high 77 yards and scored once.
First things first: The Browns deserve credit for rallying from a 14-point deficit in the fourth quarter and not losing to a quality opponent that has owned them. The Browns showed they (probably) are not the Same Old Browns, certainly not the 1-31 sad sacks of the previous two seasons under coach Hue Jackson.
The Browns absolutely should have won this season opener for both teams. The Steelers committed not one, not two, not three but six turnovers on the road -- and the Browns still were unable to beat them.
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger threw for 335 yards and one touchdown, but don't be fooled: He played poorly, even when taking into account inclement weather. He was sacked four times, intercepted three times, lost two fumbles and missed open receivers on numerous occasions. Yet the Browns failed to fully capitalize.
Here is the shame within the shame of it: For all of the the issues the o-line and running backs had against the Steelers blitz packages; for all of the missed opportunities offensively (19 possessions, 21 points); for any of the periodic problems of the defense....the Browns would have won if not for lousy special teams.
Kickoffs not long enough. Penalties. Bad tackling on the opponent's returns. A way-too-early fair catch. A shanked punt. A blocked field-goal attempt for the win. In other words, it was another day at the office for Browns special teams. Seemingly glossed over in the muck of 1-31 was how subpar at significant points the Browns special teams were. Evidently, the problems haven't been fixed.
No matter how young/inexperienced a team is, there should not be any excuses for bad special teams at the pro level.
Uneven: Taylor's first start for the Browns was a decidedly mixed bag.
Taylor, under pressure all day and dealing with wet conditions, committed just one turnover. His o-line and backs did him few favors, and his receivers did not appear to get enough separation. If not for his legs, he likely would have been sacked twice as many times and the Browns almost certainly would have lost. He accounted for two touchdowns.
However, Taylor made an assortment of off-target passes, including an under-throw for the costly pick in the final minute of regulation. He held the ball too long in certain situations. It ultimately falls on his shoulders that the Browns managed just 21 points in 19 possessions.
Final grade: C-
Piece by piece: Here is a look at each of Taylor's dropbacks upon DVR review of the CBS Sports telecast:
First possession (0-0)
1st-and-10 @ Cleveland 36
2nd-and-4 @ Cleveland 42
(Two false-start penalties.)
3rd-and-13 @ Cleveland 33
1st-and-10 @ Cleveland 48
3rd-and-6 @ Pittsburgh 48
2nd possession (0-0)
1st-and-10 @ Cleveland 14
1st-and-10 @ Cleveland 24
2nd-and-10 @ Cleveland 24
3rd-and-9 @ Cleveland 25
3rd possession (0-0)
First series for Browns WR Josh Gordon
(Four straight runs to open possession.)
2nd-and-13 @ Cleveland 23
3rd-and-10 @ Cleveland 26
(Taylor through three series: 2-of-7 for 4 yards, one sack; three rushes for 22 yards.)
4th possession (Steelers, 7-0)
2nd-and-11 @ Cleveland 24
1st-and-10 @ Pittsburgh 43
2nd-and-10 @ Pittsburgh 43
3rd-and-9 @ Pittsburgh 42
3rd-and-6 @ Pittsburgh 33
5th possession (Steelers, 7-0)
1st-and-10 @ Cleveland 28
2nd-and-7 @ Cleveland 31
2nd-and-10 @ Pittsburgh 46
6th possession (Steelers, 7-0)
2nd-and-16 @ Cleveland 49
(Taylor at half: 5-of-11 for 50 yards; three sacks for minus-20 yards; six rushes for 33 yards.)
7th possession (Steelers, 7-0)
1st-and-10 @ Cleveland 14
2nd-and-10 @ Pittsburgh 20
8th possession (Steelers, 14-7)
1st-and-10 @ Cleveland 8
1st-and-10 @ Cleveland 21
3rd-and-12 @ Cleveland 19
9th possession (Steelers, 21-7)
1st-and-10 @ Cleveland 11
3rd-and-7 @ Cleveland 14
1st-and-10 @ Pittsburgh 47
2nd-and-10 @ Pittsburgh 47
3rd-and-10 @ Pittsburgh 47
10th possession (Steelers, 21-7)
1st-and-10 @ Cleveland 12
1st-and-10 @ Cleveland 30
2nd-and-4 @ Cleveland 36
3rd-and-15 @ Cleveland 25
11th possession (Steelers, 21-7)
1st-and-10 @ Pittsburgh 47
2nd-and-10 @ Pittsburgh 47
3rd-and-10 @ Pittsburgh 47
1st-and-10 @ Pittsburgh 23
2nd-and-10 @ Pittsburgh 23
3rd-and-10 @ Pittsburgh 23
4th-and-10 @ Pittsburgh 23 (7:55 left)
4th-and-5 @ Pittsburgh 18
Haden out because of injury.
12th possession (Steelers, 21-7)
(Carlos Hyde 1-yard run for touchdown after Steelers turnover.)
13th possession (Steelers, 21-14)
(Hyde rushed twice for a total of minus-2 yards.)
3rd-and-12 @ Pittsburgh 39
14th possession (Steelers, 21-14)
1st-and-10 @ Cleveland 45
1st-and-10 @ Pittsburgh 17 (1:58 left)
15th possession (21-21)
2nd-and-7 @ Cleveland 32
3rd-and-7 @ Cleveland 32
1st-and-10 @ Cleveland 43 (:39 left)
2nd-and-1 @ Pittsburgh 48
1st-and-10 @ Pittsburgh 43 (:23 left)
16th possession (21-21)
(Browns win toss, receive kickoff)
2nd-and-8 @ Cleveland 27
3rd-and-1 @ Cleveland 34
17th possession (21-21)
2nd-and-10 @ Cleveland 19
3rd-and-11 @ Cleveland 18
18th possession (21-21)
1st-and-10 @ Cleveland 32
2nd-and-10 @ Cleveland 32
3rd-and-10 @ Cleveland 32
19th possession (21-21)
(On 1st-and-10 @ Pittsburgh 24, Hyde rushed once for minus-1 yard.)
2nd-and-11 @ Pittsburgh 25
(Browns field-goal attempt blocked by Watt.)
The Browns forced six turnovers on Sunday against the Steelers. Watch video
CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Browns safety Damarious Randall used that word again on Sunday -- dominant.
"Six turnovers," he said. "Dominant defense, period."
Randall has been beating that drum for weeks. He said it after the Browns forced the Bills to go three-and-out on four consecutive series in their preseason meeting.
The defense followed that performance up by forcing four turnovers in the first half against the Philadelphia Eagles.
There was reason, after those games, to feel good about the defense.
During Sunday's tie against the Steelers, the defense wasn't as dominant as Randall's strong statement might indicate. They gave up 472 yards of offense, including 313 through the air. Running back James Conner rushed for 135 yards and averaged 4.4 yards per carry. He added 57 through the air.
There was open space in the middle and the Steelers took advantage. When the Browns finally broke through on their first drive of the second half to tie the game, JuJu Smith-Schuster made a 67-yard catch and run down to the Browns' 7 that set up a touchdown for Pittsburgh four plays later.
Steelers tight end Jesse James averaged 20 yards on his three catches and had what could have been the back-breaking catch in overtime, a ten yard reception that put the Steelers in position to attempt a potential game-winning field goal.
So there was enough there to give you pause when someone says dominant.
But there were moments. Oh, were there moments.
Four sacks; five quarterback hits; three fumble recoveries; three interceptions.
Consider that, in all of 2017, the Browns forced just 13 turnovers all year. They had seven interceptions and recovered six fumbles. They registered just two multi-takeaway games. They finished 21st in the league with 34 sacks.
There are two great equalizers for defenses in the NFL -- hit the quarterback and force turnovers. The Browns did both of those things in this game and they did it when it mattered most, forcing all three fumbles in the fourth quarter and overtime.
"This just the start of something new," Randall said. "Guys like (cornerback) Denzel (Ward), myself, that's why we were brought here to create turnovers and that's exactly what we did."
It's definitely what Ward did. He came away with two interceptions, the first a great read to jump in front of Antonio Brown and pick the ball. The second was a right-place, right-time interception, but some guys tend to find themselves in the right places at the right times more than others.
"Just shows you why he went Top 5 (in the draft)," Randall said. "I was excited whenever we drafted him."
Asked about Myles Garrett's performance, Randall admitted that he didn't see what Garrett did in the chaos of the game. When he was told it was Garrett who caused those two fumbles in the fourth quarter, his response was simply, "Oh, s**t."
So dominant probably isn't the word most would use for today's performance by the defense -- not when taken as a whole -- but the unit did things that dominant defenses do. They did enough to win a game on a rainy, windy afternoon. There were moments -- many thanks to Garrett -- when the Steelers actually looked overmatched.
It was a big step forward for a defense that always seemed a step slow a season ago.
Rodney Hood ended his restricted free agency by accepting the Cavaliers' $3.4 million qualifying offer and placing a bet on himself for a big season this year.
CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Rodney Hood ended his restricted free agency by accepting the Cavaliers' $3.4 million qualifying offer and placing a bet on himself for a big season this year.
He informed the Cavs of his decision today, sources told cleveland.com.
Hood, 25, a gifted, 6-8 forward, will be an unrestricted free agent next summer. He left a multiyear deal from the Cavs worth about $7 million per season on the table by accepting their qualifying offer.
Sources said Hood was seeking a contract for more than $9 million per season from the Cavs. For comparison, the Celtics signed restricted free agent Marcus Smart to a four-year, $52 million deal this summer, and the Bulls matched the four-year $78 million offer sheet Zach LaVine signed with the Kings.
Most NBA insiders said Hood cost himself that kind of money with his postseason struggles for the Cavs, averaging 5.4 points on .167 shooting from 3-point range in the 2018 playoffs.
Hood's plus-minus of minus-93 was the worst of any player in the postseason and, after starting Game 1 of a first-round series against the Pacers, he fell out out coach Tyronn Lue's rotation entirely. He crept back in there when all else failed for Lue for the last two games of the Finals.
Hood is averaging 13 points and three rebounds in four pro seasons -- mostly with the Utah Jazz. He was having a career year before the Jazz shipped him to the Cavs (for Jae Crowder, as part of a three-team trade), averaging 16.8 points. He's a career-.419 shooter from the field and .369 from 3-point range.
When Hood arrived on the Cavs, he averaged 10.8 points during the regular season. A popular theory surrounding Hood -- who obviously has the talent to play well in the NBA, given his production overall -- was that he wasn't ready for the pressure of joining LeBron James' team in a February trade and playing for a team expected to reach the Finals.
With James gone to the Lakers as a free agent, Hood could very well be James' replacement and wind up the Cavs' second scoring option behind Kevin Love. And that's where Hood is placing his bet -- that he'll get back to the kind of season he was enjoying with the Jazz before the trade and will be able to cash in as an unrestricted free agent when the salary cap jumps to $109 million for 2019-20.
Cavs former general manager David Griffin told cleveland.com's Wine and Gold podcast that he thought Hood would be the team's primary scorer late in games -- a sign of how valuable a player he could be this season.
The Cavs would still be able to pay Hood more than any other team next summer because they have his full "Bird" rights under the NBA's collective bargaining agreement.
Cleveland signed David Nwaba to a one-year, $1.5 million deal on Saturday. The roster now stands at 14 players heading into training camp, which is likely where it will stay.
The Cavs' payroll for this season is now in the $115 million range -- which is above the league's $101 million salary cap but under the $123 million luxury-tax line.
If the Cavs can keep it there this season, it will be the first time since before LeBron returned that owner Dan Gilbert avoids tax penalties on his roster -- which will give Cleveland even more salary flexibility next season.
Camp starts Sept. 24.
Garrett committed a costly penalty in overtime in the tie with the Steelers. Watch video
CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Myles Garrett had the kind the of game he always dreamed about against Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, but he marred the monster performance with a costly penalty in overtime of Sunday's 21-21 tie.
When Genard Avery strip-sacked Roethlisberger with 36 seconds left in overtime and the score tied at 21, the ball popped into Joe Schobert's hands, and he rumbled 28 yards to the Pittsburgh 12. There, he was pushed out of bounds by center Maurkice Pouncey. But while Schobert was going down, Garrett committed an illegal block in the back on Pouncey to draw a 10-yard penalty.
Instead of the Browns starting the 12 -- where kicker Zane Gonzalez would've had a 30-yard field goal attempt in the driving rain -- they were knocked backed to the 24, 10 yards from the spot of Garrett's foul.
After a 1-yard loss by Carlos Hyde and a spike by Tyrod Taylor, Gonzalez lined up for 43-yard kick from the 25 -- and it was blocked by T.J. Watt with nine seconds left to end the game in a tie that felt like a loss.
The 30-yarder -- or less -- would've been a chip shot for Gonzalez, who needed everything to go right in the downpour.
"That was a bad play by me,'' said Garrett. "I should've been more aware. Tried to get more on his side or on his front, so that's my fault.''
The penalty put a damper on an otherwise dominant performance by Garrett, who had two sacks, including one strip-sack of Roethlisberger, and forced a James Conner fumble that led to a touchdown that cut the deficit to 21-14 with 7:32 left. The two takeaways came less than a minute apart in the fourth quarter, in which he took over the game.
Jabrill Peppers recovered the Conners fumble and rumbled 16 yards up the left side before being tackled at the 1 by Roethlisberger. Carlos Hyde punched it in from there.
Two plays later, with Roethisberger near midfield and always a fourth-quarter nightmare for the Browns, Garrett stormed in and strip-sacked him, and Joe Schobert recovered. The offense went three-and-out, but Garrett stopped Conner after a yard on third-and-9 on the next drive to help set the Browns up with great field position.
Tyrod Taylor responded with a 38 yard pass to Rashard Higgins followed by a 17-yard TD pass to Josh Gordon that tied the game at 21 with 1:58 left. FirstEnergy erupted with beers and cheers, and it wouldn't have been possible without Garrett.
"I'm being the person they got from the draft,'' said Garrett, the No. 1 overall pick in 2017. "I'm finally healthy, and I'm just trying to be the guy who can make the plays when we need them."
Garrett got his first sack of Roethlisberger, a 5-yarder, on the first play of the second quarter.
"It was nice,'' he said. "I'll try not to hit him too hard next time so I don't get a flag. It was nice to finally meet him and properly introduce myself before the game and during the game.''
Later on the drive, Garrett was flagged 4-yards for roughing -- half the distance -- when he drilled Roethlisberger after a throwaway in the back of the end zone. On the next play, Conner ran it in from 4 yards for the TD that made it 7-0 with 11:16 left in the half.
Afterward, Browns coach Hue Jackson had it out with the official for what he felt was a horrible call.
"There were quite a few times I talked to the officials about things I saw and calls that they made,'' Jackson said. The call on Myles Garrett, I do not get that.
"They said that it was roughing the passer. That led to a touchdown.''
Garrett didn't get it either.
"It wasn't a very sensical explanation,'' he said. "I don't know how from that angle I can hit him and put him into the ground, so you don't want to tackle him. You kind of just have to tackle him into the ground. So you don't you put your body weight or almost all your body weight into him, so I have to torque myself out of the way.
"So hopefully that gets adjusted or something's changed about that, but we'll see. I'm not going to change how I'm hitting because that's how I've always been taught.''
He acknowledged he doesn't know any more what's a good tackle and what's not.
"Honestly, I thought that was a perfectly legal hit,'' he said. "When I hit him, I just had momentum, so of course he went down pretty quick, but I don't know what is a proper way to take him down. I'm going to need some evidence or them to demonstrate for me themselves.''
At one point, Garrett was feeling so loose that he broke out into a dance on the field to Michael Jackson's "Beat it.''
"It was an amazing scene having the crowd on our side, rocking and rolling,'' he said. "I've played before 100,000 before and it kind of felt like that and just having those guys kind of feel like the world is crashing down on them, that's a testament to what we were doing and how the stadium was backing us up.''
With Garrett setting the tone right from the start, the defense erupted with six takeaways, including two picks by No. 4 overall pick Denzel Ward.
"Great players can take over a game no matter what position they are,'' he said. "It wasn't just me. It was a bunch of guys on my team who were there, picking up slack when I wasn't getting there and all those big picks by Denzel? Everybody was getting after it.''
And with one or two fewer mistakes, such as a blocked field goal and Garrett's illegal block, they'll have some victories to show for it.
"If we can play like that every game and have that stadium packed, people better watch out, that's all I can say,'' he said.
The Browns forced Pittsburgh into six turnovers, but after the game, coach Hue Jackson and many Browns players felt more like they had lost the game than tied it. Watch video
CLEVELAND, Ohio - The Browns ended their losing streak at 17 games Sunday at FirstEnergy Stadium with a 21-21 tie against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Cleveland had a chance to win late in overtime, but Steelers linebacker T.J. Watt got a hand on Zane Gonzalez's 43-yard field-goal attempt with 9 seconds left.
The Browns forced Pittsburgh into six turnovers, but after the game, coach Hue Jackson and many Browns players felt more like they had lost the game than tied it.
Cleveland.com Browns reporters Mary Kay Cabot and Dan Labbe discuss what the postgame atmosphere was like and other topics in the video above.
Taylor completed only 37.5 percent of his passes, didn't get a first-down in four OT possession, and threw a pick at the end of regulation. He was under seige but it wasn't a good debut. Watch video
CLEVELAND, Ohio -- If you told Tyrod Taylor that he'd complete only 37.5 percent of his passes in his Browns debut, he never would've believed you.
And if you told him that his last play in regulation would be an interception, he wouldn't have bought that either. He threw only five all last year and that's just not how he rolls.
What's more, if you told him that the Browns would only tie the Steelers 21-21 and not beat them despite six takeaways by the Browns defense, he'd think you were nuts. Since 1999, teams with a plus-five turnover margin have gone 132-4-1.
The Browns own two of the losses and the lone tie.
But stats, as Taylor observed after the tie that felt like a loss, are for losers. And tie-ers.
"It was not pretty in the statistics category, for sure,'' said Taylor (15-of-40, 197 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT, 51.8 rating). "At the end, we still had a chance to win the game and that's what really what it boils down to. I've never been a stats guy. Yes, it would be ideal to come out and light up the stat chart, but wins and losses are ultimately what a quarterback is judged on, and today was a tie.''
The game ended on blocked Zane Gonzalez 43-yard field goal attempt with nine seconds left in overtime, but it never should've been that close.
With six takeaways by the Browns' defense, the offense should've scored more than 21 points in regulation and should've been able to muster at least one first down in four overtime possessions.
In fact, Taylor and the offense converted only one of those takeaways, and that's when they were spotted at the Steelers' 1 yard line. Carlos Hyde punched that one in to cut the deficit to 21-14 with 7:32 left in regulation.
Myles Garrett got the ball back for them less than a minute later on a strip-sack of Ben Roethlisberger, but the offense went three-and-out. Garrett came through against with a third-down stop on the next drive, and Taylor came alive with a 38-yard pass to Rashard Higgins followed by a 17-yard TD pass on a fade to Josh Gordon, who plucked it off the helmet of Cameron Sutton at the right pylon.
That tied it at 21 with 1:58 left, and beer showers mixed in with the downpour as FirstEnergy Stadium erupted. Joe Haden, who broke up an earlier pass to Gordon in the end zone, was out of the game at that point with a hamstring injury.
The defense forced another three-and-out and Taylor took over at his 29 with 1:29 remaining. It was a chance for a pivotal gamewinning drive, and Taylor would've been a hero.
Instead, he went deep to Gordon down the right side, and the pass was picked off by Sutton with 16 seconds remaining.
"Me and Josh were on two different pages, but I take the blame for that,'' said Taylor. "I could've put it down the field a little bit more. I was trying to give him something that he could go up and jump for. Just have to get better at that."
He refused to pin it on the lack of practice time between him and the 2013 Pro Bowl receiver, who just got out of treatment and re-joined the team on Aug. 18th. Gordon hadn't played in a preseason game, and barely practiced, in part because of a tweaked hamstring.
"I wouldn't say that,'' said Taylor. "We just have to continue to keep growing because he made a great play on the ball for a touchdown. I don't want to point out one play and say that was for lack of not being together for the past couple of weeks. Whatever the case is, we have to find out how to be better at it moving forward for us to be successful on offense."
All told, the two X receivers, Gordon and rookie Antonio Callaway, combined for one catch on four targets, and that's not enough to make this offense go. Gordon, who started to the game much to the chagrin of coach Hue Jackson because of the three tight-end, one receiver personnel package Todd Haley chose to open with, was targeted three times with the TD as his lone reception, and Callaway was targeted once with no receptions.
It's been a roller coaster few months for both downfield threats, and the consistency with Taylor isn't there yet.
Taylor took a hard, illegal shot by T.J. Watt in the first quarter and came up tending to his right shoulder. Baker Mayfield even warmed up on the sidelines briefly. It remains to be seen if Taylor was bothered by it in any way, but he appeared to underthrow a few balls. Nevertheless, it didn't come up after the game.
In overtime, Taylor got first crack and went three-and-out, almost getting picked off by Sean Davis on a third-down pass to David Njoku, who caught only 3-of-7 targets for 13 yards. Taylor went three-and-out on his next two possessions, although Jarvis Landry (7-of-15 targets for 106 yards) was bumped on a deep third-down ball with no flag.
The fourth OT drive, also lacking a first down, ended on the blocked field goal. With the skill players on this offense, that's unacceptable. Higgins has been one of the most consistent receivers -- and pleasant surprises to date -- and should get more opportunities. Plenty of times, Taylor saw no one open and took off running. He finished with a team-high 77 yards rushing, including a 20-yard TD.
"Yes, it was the first time (together), but that's how it goes sometimes,'' said Taylor. "You can't always have guys present or have a great sequence of players being together. You have to be able to fight through that, communicate through that and still do whatever it takes to win."
With rookie left tackle Desmond Harrison struggling much of the game, including two of the team's four false start penalties, Taylor was under seige a fair amount and was sacked seven times. Several were coverage sacks, but some were the fault of Harrison, including a strip-sack at the end of the half.
"He gained confidence as the game went on and continued to keep battling his butt off,'' said Taylor. "Hats off to all our guys. We did not come away with the win, but to see different guys fight and never lose their edge on the field, regardless of the score, was a positive thing."
Overall, it was a ragged performance by an offense that's brand new: new coordinator, QB, line, skill players. Hyde managed just 2.8 yards per carry on his 22 attempts (68 yards, 1 TD) and Chubb, who caused one of the seven sacks by a mental error on a blitz pickup, had three carries for 21 yards with a long of 17.
Duke Johnson caught only one of his six targets for eight yards, and ran five times for seven yards. He'll need to get more touches for this fledging offense to succeed. The driving rain didn't help Taylor's with so many other things on his plate, including shaky blindside protection.
As the Browns go back to the drawing board this week in preparation for the 0-1 Saints, who lost 48-40 to the Bucs, they must re-evaluate the use of some of their personnel and their gameplan. They must also hope that Harrison comes up the learning curve quickly, or possibly go back to Plan Z again.
GM John Dorsey might also dial up former Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant, who would no longer be guaranteed his full 2018 salary if it didn't work out. Taylor has been vocal in his desire to add the three-time Pro Bowler, and the Browns might oblige.
In the meantime, Taylor must continue working overtime with his new supporting cast to get it to jell.
Corey Kluber will start against the Rays on Monday night seeking his 19th win over the season.
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Here is the preview and pitching matchups for the Indians' series against the Rays.
Where/when: Tropicana Field, Monday through Wednesday.
TV/radio: SportsTime Ohio, WTAM and WMMS will carry the series.
Pitching matchups and starting times: RHP Corey Kluber (18-7, 2.75) vs. RHP Diego Castillo (3-2, 3.40) Monday at 7:10 p.m.; RHP Shane Bieber (9-3, 4.63) vs. RHP Tyler Glasgow (1-5, 4.64) Tuesday at 7:10 p.m. and RHP Carlos Carrasco (16-8, 4.31) vs. undetermined.
Series: The Rays lead the Indians, 2-1, this season. The Indians lead, 94-60, overall.
Hot pitchers: Cody Allen has allowed one run and struck out eight in his last five appearances covering 4 2/3 innings for the Tribe. Castillo hit 101.3 mph on Statcast when he was the 'opener' against the Indians on Sept. 2 at Progressive Field. He's 1-1 with a 2.25 ERA in his last 14 games for Tampa.
Hot hitters: Francisco Lindor set a new career high with his 34th homer on Sunday. Thirty three of those homers have come out of the leadoff spot for the Tribe. Brandon Lowe is hitting .352 (19-for-54) with 15 RBI in his last 19 games for the Rays.
Team updates: The Indians head to Tropicana Field after splitting a four-game series with the rebuilding Blue Jays. Their magic number to clinch the AL Central is five. The Rays, who won two out of three from the Indians at Progressive Field From Aug. 30 through Sept. 2, have won 11 straight games at Tropicana Field.
Disabled list: Indians - 3B Josh Donaldson (left ankle), LHP Andrew Miller (left shoulder), RHP Trevor Bauer (right fibula), OF Leonys Martin (illness), CF Tyler Naquin (right hip), OF Lonnie Chisenhall (left calf), RHP Nick Goody (right elbow), RHP Danny Salazar (right shoulder) and RHP Cody Anderson (right elbow) are on the disabled list.
Rays -- RHP Jose De Leon (right elbow), RHP Wilson Font (right lat), RHP Jose Mujica (undisclosed), C Michael Perez (left hamstring) and 2B Danie Robertson (left thumb) are on the disabled list.
Next: The Indians are off on Thursday before opening their final homestand of the regular season when Detroit visits for a three-game series starting Friday night.
The Cleveland Browns still have not won a game since December 24, 2016. But can winning start with a tie?
CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Scribbles in my Browns notebook after their 21-21 tie against the Pittsburgh Steelers:
1. For the Browns and their fans, it could have been worse. A loss to Pittsburgh would have inspired a chorus of the "Same Old Browns" blues. It would have meant the team's losing streak had reached 18. The tidal wave of negativity would have pounded the psyche of the fan base once again.
2. Several Browns players said the tie felt like a loss. "It's a sour feeling," quarterback Tyrod Taylor said. Hue Jackson wasn't happy after the game, as the Browns coach said, "We were not able to get it done. Did not finish it."
3. The Browns used a promotional comment from a team meeting held by Jackson. He told the players: "Winning starts here."
4. In the past, the Browns would have lost this game. They'd have lost because they are the Browns (who always lose). They'd have lost because they played the Steelers -- who always beat the Browns. In this case, this is the first time the Browns have tied in a game since 1989.
5. Can winning begin with a tie? Maybe. Perhaps the next step to winning a game begins with not losing a game. It begins with a defense that is no longer passive. If the Browns do surprise some critics this season, it will be because the defense does have a chance to be special.
6. Myles Garrett, two sacks and two forced fumbles. Denzel Ward, two interceptions. The defense is fast, aggressive and relentless. It will give up some big plays, but also make some huge plays.
7. I keep thinking about Garrett, who drew two holding penalties from blockers trying to stop him. He was held a few other times when no flags were thrown.
Garrett said: "I'm being the person they got from the draft (first pick in 2017). I'm finally healthy." Garrett missed five games last season because of ankle problems.
8. Genard Avery had a huge sack and forced fumble of Ben Roethlisberger late in the overtime period. That gave the team a chance to win. He also had another quarterback hit. The rookie from Memphis was on the field a lot in pass-rush situations, often replacing Jamie Collins at linebacker. He could be a steal for John Dorsey in the fifth round.
9. In my game column, I wrote a lot about the offense looking clunky. The line had not played together in a game until this rainy Sunday. They had trouble protecting Tyrod Taylor....and Taylor sometimes created his own problems by holding on to the ball too long.
10. I didn't focus on rookie Desmond Harrison. The rookie left tackle did make a few excellent blocks. His size and athleticism are obvious attributes. But he was flagged twice for false-start penalties. He also had an illegal-formation penalty. And he played at Division II West Georgia last season, so let's not rush to judgment. The game must have been an amazing experience for him.
11. I've been fearing the special teams all training camp, and they had some rough moments in this game. Zane Gonzalez had a possible game-winning 43-yard field goal blocked. Britton Colquitt shanked a punt for 29 yards. Jabrill Peppers signaled for a fair catch on punt when he had at least 10 yards of open field in front of him. Special teams also were flagged for three penalties.
12. Tight end David Njoku caught three passes for a grand total of 13 yards. He also had two drops and was flagged for a false-start penalty. He has so much natural ability, but he is so inconsistent. He's 22 and this is his second pro season, so patience is required. The Browns have a huge need for a play-making tight end, meaning opportunity is pounding with both fists on his door.
13. Larry Ogunjobi is developing into a very good defensive tackle in his second pro season. He had seven tackles, including a sack.
14. This from Profootballfocus: "It was a tough day for center Maurkice Pouncey. Interior defensive lineman Larry Ogunjobi zeroed in on him early and often...Pouncey had no answer for it. This was the case late when Ogunjobi was credited with a sack after he pushed Pouncey into quarterback Ben Roethlisberger."
15. It took one play for Jackson to wonder what offensive coordinator Todd Haley had in mind. It was the opening play, when Haley had three tight ends and Josh Gordon on the field. Jackson had been saying Gordon would not start...but he did. Then he left after the first play for the next two series. Haley should have known Jackson made several comments about Gordon not starting the opener.
Check here for the tee times, TV schedule for the PGA Tour's BMW Championship 2018 on Monday, Sept. 10, in Pennsylvania.
CLEVELAND, Ohio -- The final round of the PGA Tour's BMW Championship 2018 is scheduled to be televised on Golf Channel beginning at 10 a.m. on Monday, Sept. 10. Inclement weather Sunday postponed the final round.
The BMW is the third of four events in the FedExCup Playoffs. The TOUR Championship unfolds Sept. 20-23.
Justin Rose (17-under) entered the final round of the BMW with a one-shot lead over Rory McIlroy and Xander Schauffele. The trio is scheduled to tee off at 9:20 a.m. at Aronimink Golf Club in Pennsylvania.
Tiger Woods was 12-under and T-11 through 54 holes. He is grouped with Webb Simpson (12-under) and Scott Piercy (11-under) for the final round.
Martell flashed his talent against Rutgers, but Ohio State's plan for him is still unclear. Watch video
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Ohio State's worst-case scenario was playing out on the Rutgers sideline.
Backup quarterback Tate Martell was knocked to the ground on what was ruled a late hit as he ran out of bounds in Saturday's fourth quarter. In real time it looked like Martell may have been hit in the head. He crawled on all fours for a moment while trainers rushed from the opposite sideline. After a few seconds of confusion, Martell popped up and jogged back across the field.
Turns out he just had the wind knocked out of him. Replay shows Martell took a solid shot to the shoulder that knocked him off his feet.
OK, so most would say that worst-case scenario for Ohio State is something happening to starting quarterback Dwayne Haskins. And that's true. Second on the list, or at least high up there, is living in a world where Haskins is the only viable quarterback on the roster. And for a few seconds on Saturday, it looked like that might be happening.
"Never good to see a guy take a shot like that," acting head coach Ryan Day said. "Really proud of the way he jumped right back. Got the wind knocked out, hard shot there, but shows the competitiveness and toughness that we know he has. That was great."
What Martell did next, though, shows how complicated Ohio State's position is.
After taking a snap off, Martell was out there on second-and-13. Two plays after taking the big hit, he dropped back looking for a receiver, planted his right foot, made a guy miss on the Block-O logo at midfield and raced down the right sideline, punctuating a 47-yard touchdown run with a dive for the pylon. It was an electric play.
The entire sequence, potential serious injury to the most exciting play of the game, raises an important question for Ohio State as it tries to figure out the plan for Martell while the competition takes a significant upturn with games against No. 15 TCU and No. 11 Penn State in the next three weeks.
The first two games allowed the Buckeyes to play around a bit. Moving forward, should Martell be part of the plan in a package with the first-team offense, or used as a normal backup quarterback?
"I feel Coach Day is going to put me in the best situation when I go out there," Martell said. "Whenever that is is really up to him. I feel they know how to use me, and whatever they do is what they do."
Martell entered both games this year, blowouts of Oregon State and Rutgers, on the fifth series with the first-team offense. Both times the game was already in hand that early, and both times he was replaced after one series and didn't enter the game again until the second-team offense was in with him.
The results of his time with the starters have been mixed. Against Oregon State there appeared to be some confusion on read-option runs that put Ohio State into third-and-8. Haskins came back in to bail out the offense and led a scoring drive. Against Rutgers, the Buckeyes got to third-and-16 on Martell's first drive. This time they left him in, and he delivered with a well-thrown 51-yard touchdown pass to Terry McLaurin.
Martell has talent. That's not in question. You could tell from the smile he couldn't wipe from his face during Saturday's post-game press conference that he knew he finally showed everyone that. He bounced back from a shaky debut by completing all 10 of his pass attempts and leading the team with 95 rushing yards against Rutgers.
"I just want to go out there and play," Martell said. "That's just how I got there. I've improved a ton as a passer, and I want to be able to go out there and show that. I just went out there and made plays with my legs when I had to. Obviously Dwayne is our starter. That's how it is. I'll be there if something goes wrong."
There's the catch-22 facing Day and the offensive coaches.
Martell has the skill set to have a role as a complement to Haskins, though Martell seems eager to shake the "running quarterback" label. He's also the only other quarterback on the roster who could come in and keep Ohio State on a course that ends with a Big Ten Championship should something happen to Haskins. Last year the Buckeyes had Haskins and current LSU starter Joe Burrow behind J.T. Barrett.
The options behind Haskins this year are Martell, true freshman Matthew Baldwin, who's coming off an ACL tear, walk-on Kory Kurtis and recently-added graduate transfer Chris Chugunov, who's played but is not nearly on the level of the top two.
That's not particularly deep, not for a team that expects to withstand injuries and still contend for championships.
So, what is Ohio State to do with Martell in these games that carry weight?
Nobody is suggesting the coaching staff wraps him in bubble wrap. He needs to play, because he's next -- possibly as soon as next year if Haskins continues on this path and then goes to the NFL. That's out there. You can't worry about something happening to Martell in the course of him getting valuable reps late in games as a normal No. 2 quarterback.
But if the quarterback depth takes hit because something happened to Martell while he was in on the fifth series with the first-team offense, then you can ask if that's really worth it.
You can also ask if that kind of package is needed at all.
The offense has looked efficient and explosive with Haskins as a drop-back passer, speedy receivers and a pair of big-play running backs in Mike Weber and J.K. Dobbins. Though the competition has been less than stellar, and neither opponent has yet to really test Haskins' mobility.
A Martell package is a wrinkle that gives defenses a legitimate quarterback run threat to plan against, and he's at least at the level of being a passer you need to respect.
"He can beat you with his feet and beat you with his arm," Day said. "That's what makes him a special player."
Special enough to have an every-game role?
Or too special to risk it?
Check here for tee times, live final-round leaderboard for the PGA Tour's BMW Championship 2018 on Monday, Sept. 10, in Pennsylvania.
CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Justin Rose (17-under) led by one shot entering the final round of the PGA Tour's BMW Championship 2018 on Monday, Sept. 10, in Pennsylvania. The BMW, featuring a field of 69, is the third of four events in the FedExCup Playoffs.
Rory McIlroy and Xander Schauffele were tied for second.
Bryson DeChambeau has won the first two playoff events (The Northern Trust, Dell Technologies Championship).
Site: Newtown Square, Pa.
Course: Aronimink GC. Yardage: 7,267. Par: 70.
Purse: $9 million. Winner's share: $1,620,000.
Defending champion: Marc Leishman.
FedExCup leader: Bryson DeChambeau.
Last week: Bryson DeChambeau won the Dell Technologies Championship.
Notes: This is the third FedExCup playoff event, with the top 30 advancing to the Tour Championship at East Lake in two weeks. .... DeChambeau is assured of being the No. 1 seed at the Tour Championship. At stake this week is getting one of the top five seeds. Those players only need to win the Tour Championship to claim the FedExCup title and the $10 million bonus. ... Aronimink last held a PGA Tour event in 2010 and 2011 when the AT&T National moved there from Congressional ahead of the 2011 U.S. Open. Justin Rose and Nick Watney won those two years. Tiger Woods, whose foundation ran the tournament, tied for 46th in 2010 and did not play in 2011 because of leg injuries. ... Rickie Fowler is playing his first FedExCup playoffs event. He missed the last two with an injury. He started at No. 17 and now is No. 26. ... Aronimink is where Gary Player won the PGA Championship in 1962. The club will host the Women's PGA Championship in 2020 and the PGA Championship in 2027.
Next tournament: Tour Championship on Sept. 20-23.
(Fact box from Associated Press.)
Check here for the FedExCup Playoffs 2018 projected Top 30 in the standings on Monday, Sept. 10.
CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Bryson DeChambeau will be No. 1 in the FedExCup Playoffs standings through Monday, Sept. 10. The Top 30 in the standings advance to TOUR Championship 2018, Sept. 20-23.
DeChambeau clinched the top spot for the TOUR Championship on Sept. 3, when he won the Dell Technologies Championship -- the second of the four playoff events. DeChambeau also won the first event, The Northern Trust.
Entering the final round of the BMW Championship on Monday, those projected to join DeChambeau in the Top 30 included Justin Rose, Rory McIlroy, Justin Thomas, Patrick Reed, Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Brooks Koepka and Dustin Johnson.
Silver Lake native Ryan Armour, a former standout at Walsh Jesuit and Ohio State, was 34th in the standings through three rounds of the BMW.