Week 18 instant reactions: Browns lay an egg in season finale

Browns, Deshaun Watson. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
Browns, Deshaun Watson. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images) /

The Cleveland Browns had a chance to end Mike Tomlin’s streak of non-losing seasons but failed as the Steelers won easily in Week 18

The Cleveland Browns season has come to an end and it did so in a major disappointment.

Despite taking a 7-0 lead, they were unable to hold on as the Pittsburgh Steelers ripped off 20 points in a row en route to a 28-14 victory.

14. 53. 28. 55. Final

Cleveland finished the year 7-10 and the Steelers, somehow, improved to 9-8 on the season. For head coach Mike Tomlin, this means he still hasn’t ever finished with a losing record.

Pittsburgh did still miss the playoffs as the Miami Dolphins beat the New York Jets, ending their hopes. So at least they’ll be watching the postseason with the Browns.

Browns start off fine, but then fall apart

In the first half, Deshaun Watson started out playing really well. He was moving well in the pocket and avoided several would-be sacks. He had 137 yards passing and a touchdown to David Njoku but also had a huge mistake after Pittsburgh tied things up.

With under two minutes to go in the half, Watson fired a pass downfield for David Bell but it was picked off by Levi Wallace. The Steelers then went 25 yards on six plays before Chris Boswell hit a 49-yard field goal to go up 10-7 — plus the Steelers got the ball to start the third quarter.

The issues continued as Watson threw another pick in the third quarter and then was sacked twice during a three-and-out after Pittsburgh went up 20-7.

For as good as Watson can be, he’s struggled with locking onto one receiver and throwing too many passes into coverage. Their defense isn’t good enough for them to make up for these mistakes.

The offensive line, which used to be considered one of the best in the league doesn’t help as they allowed Watson to be sacked seven times and hit many others. He still needs to protect the ball, but a little help from the O-line would be nice.

Browns likely moving on from Joe Woods

Throughout the season, Joe Woods has been on the hot seat and the Cleveland defensive coordinator didn’t have a great finish to the season.

Pittsburgh had their way on the ground in this one, running the clock out after taking a lead. Najee Harris and Jaylen Warren frustrated the defense and even Steven Sims came in and took off for a 16-yard run at one point.

This has been an issue all season for the Browns and Woods is expected to be on the way out by many who follow the team.

Is Kevin Stefanski safe?

There have been numerous reports that Kevin Stefanski will return for his fourth season as head coach, but we all know Jimmy Haslam can be impulsive. And it wouldn’t be a shock to find out he wasn’t happy with how his team looked in the finale.

Cleveland had more off-field drama and while Stefanski handled it right by sending Jadeveon Clowney home, the play on the field was less than desirable.

They continued to struggle on offense, turning the ball over with multiple picks. They also couldn’t protect Deshaun Watson who continues to get sacked at an alarming rate.

In the end, this could be enough for ownership to go scorched earth. Again.