For the second time in four seasons under head coach Kevin Stefanski, the Cleveland Browns are going to the playoffs. Despite a season full of injuries, the Browns punched their ticket on Thursday Night Football with a win over the New York Jets.
In a game that was kicked off by Nick Chubb smashing a guitar pre-game, the Browns came out firing. They scored 20 points in the first quarter and had a 34-17 lead at halftime. With Amari Cooper already out, Cleveland lost Elijah Moore to a concussion which led to a slower pace in the second half.
Despite the lack of firepower in the final 30 minutes, Cleveland was impressive in their win as they improved to 11-5 on the year and 8-1 at home. Now, let's take some time to highlight a few players who were flying high in Week 17.
4. Ronnie Hickman, S
With Grant Delpit and Rodney McLeod each on the IR, the Browns have had to ask for more out of undrafted rookie Ronnie Hickman. So far, he's been up to the task. In Week 15, he was the highest-graded rookie according to PFF, earning a 90.6 in the win over the Chicago Bears.
He was again on the field for much of the game against the Houston Texans and had a career-high six tackles. Now while facing New York, he had his best game as a pro. During the first half, the Jets were down 13-7 and looking to take the lead on a drive starting from their own six.
After just a couple of plays, this drive ended thanks to Hickman. The former Ohio State Buckeye stepped in front of a pass intended for Garrett Wilson and recorded the first interception of his career. He then returned it 30 yards for a touchdown, extending the lead to 20-13.
Hickman added another four tackles to his total for the season but it's his coverage that has been a pleasant surprise. Known as a hard-hitter at OSU, he was considered a liability against the pass. That hasn't been the case at all in Cleveland and he again showed he's more than capable of holding his own in the NFL.