For a game with no meaning (on the field at least), third-string quarterback Thaddeus Lewis – making the first start of his career – looked impressive at times, completing 22 of 32 passes for 204 yards, a touchdown and an interception.
But there wasn’t much else going on in this game, a 24-10 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers that will signal the end of head coach Pat Shurmur’s tenure. He went 9-23 in his two seasons in Cleveland, and apparently hasn’t spoken to new owner Jimmy Haslam or new CEO Joe Banner in weeks, which pretty much tells the entire story.
Situations like that make it hard to focus on the game being played, but it’s worth noting that the Browns played with heart, despite the injuries to key players (such as quarterbacks Brandon Weeden and Colt McCoy, running back Trent Richardson, tight end Jordan Cameron, cornerback Sheldon Brown and safeties T.J. Ward and Usama Young, along with wide receiver Josh Gordon, who injured his ankle in the first half).
In the end, though, the Browns missed out on a chance to beat the Steelers twice in the same season. With Ben Roethlisberger back at the helm for Pittsburgh, it would have been an especially worthwhile victory, but he continued his dominance against Cleveland, pushing his record to 15-1. Of course, the Browns’ three turnovers certainly didn’t help matters, including a costly late fumble by wide receiver Travis Benjamin.
More than anything, Sunday’s season finale passed the time as we wait for the ax to fall on Monday morning. Pat Shurmur and general manager Tom Heckert deserved better, but such is life in the NFL.