The Cleveland Browns are currently sitting at 7-3 and a half-game behind the Ravens for the division lead after knocking off the Pittsburgh Steelers 13-10 in Week 11. It wasn't always pretty, but that's AFC North football at its finest. That was yet another signature win for Kevin Stefanski and this crew, who stay atop the division power rankings.
A week prior, Cleveland edged Baltimore, and with the win over Pittsburgh, it marked the first time in franchise history the team beat those franchises in consecutive weeks. For the past 24 years, both the Ravens and Steelers have relatively owned the Browns, so this is a nice change of pace. The Browns have won three in a row and improved to 5-1 at home. Now, they will shift gears and head west for a two-week road trip playing in Denver and Los Angeles.
The NFL acquiesced to Cleveland's request to book their West Coast trip back-to-back. This will give the time to strengthen further the bond that has this team sitting pretty. For the fourth time this season, Cleveland has held its opponent to 10 or fewer points. In today's NFL, that is hard to do and this unit just keeps putting on masterful performances.
Cleveland Browns grade at A+ in Week 11 victory over the Steelers
If you watched this game, then you would already know how this grade was going to go. Yet again, the defense put the team on its back and led the way to another late-game victory. In years past, the Browns would have found ways to lose a game like this, but not this year. It's hilariously ironic how Cleveland beat Pittsburgh in a fashion the latter is accustomed to using in victory.
Myles Garrett set the tone on the opening Steelers possession by getting what should have been a safety on Kenny Pickett, but questionable officiating negated that. He finished the game with two sacks and is now the league leader with 13. He continues to be the frontrunner for Defensive Player of the Year, and now it is time for him to enter the MVP conversation.
Yes, I know the MVP award is a quarterback award, but the Browns have used three this year, to go with other significant injuries, and it has been Garrett who's led the way. If the Browns can maintain momentum and string a few more wins together, and then potentially overtake Baltimore to win the division, there is no reason Garrett can't win the award. That isn't on Garrett's to-do list, as he said he's focused on winning the Super Bowl and anything else would be "cherries on top."
Another player who had a massive game was Ogbo Okoronkwo, who got to celebrate twice this weekend. Prior to Sunday's game, Okoronkwo welcomed his newborn son the the world. Then, in Sunday's contest, he had arguably his best game in brown and orange, finishing with a sack and four tackles for a loss.
Grant Delpit and Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah continue to shine in this defensive system, and both recorded six solo tackles each. Denzel Ward continues to show why he's an elite cornerback in the NFL and made a huge open-field tackle on Najee Harris. Martin Emerson continues to grow into a leadership role in only his second professional season. He continues to back up his confidence with his play and is also a tremendous teammate.
After Cleveland secured the win, rookie starting quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson was visibly emotional on the sideline after picking up his first NFL victory. Emerson came over to DTR and had some touching words for the fifth-round pick out of UCLA, before going to celebrate with the Browns' faithful.
This defense is special and there is no reason to believe they will slow up anytime soon. Garrett said after the game that everyone is locked into the same goal and that is different from years past. Jim Schwartz continues to be the best NFL offseason move made by any team and this unit is putting up historical numbers. As long as the quarterback play can be slightly above average, this defense can lead the way in a potential playoff run.