It felt like a long week for the Cleveland Browns. They went from an extreme high following a win over Baltimore to a deep low when it was announced Deshaun Watson would miss the remainder of the season. With him out, the Browns went back to Dorian Thompson-Robinson as the rookie made his second-career start.
This time, he was facing the Pittsburgh Steelers who defeated Cleveland back in Week 2. Thompson-Robinson was trying to erase the sting from his previous start against Baltimore and in the first 30 minutes, it was going about as well as it could. Cleveland was up 10-0 thanks to a smart game plan that kept the defense in control.
DTR wasn't pushing the ball downfield but the offense was moving it well with a mix of short passes and the run game. They even had a touchdown from Jerome Ford on the Wild Cat. But then in the second quarter, things started to go in the wrong direction.
Pittsburgh scored on a 74-yard run from Jaylen Warren, which was their longest run of the season — by a lot. Before that, it was a 25 yard run that was their long. That gave the Steelers some confidence while also shaking the Browns slightly.
Suddenly, their running game was non-existent and DTR even threw an interception late in the third. That play was close to being a completion but the rookie's pass was slightly behind Amari Cooper and was batted into the air. Chandon Sullivan came down with it but again, Cleveland's defense was up to the task.
Despite the turnover, Pittsburgh had to give it right back thanks to a three-and-out. Cleveland responded with one of their own, and we then went into the fourth quarter with them punting the ball away. Still, it was a 10-7 lead and all came down to the final 15 minutes.
Pittsburgh was able to put together a momentum-killing drive when they went 62 yards on 13 plays, ending with a 28-yard field goal from Chris Boswell. The defense had to feel good about keeping them from scoring a touchdown but it was still a tied game at 10-10.
The Browns were then forced to punt quickly, which was due to mistakes from their offensive line. DTR initially hit Harrison Bryant for a first-down but the play was nullified due to James Hudson being flagged for illegal use of the hands. He was then beaten by T.J. Watt for a sack on the next snap, forcing a quick punt.
Cleveland Browns defense continued to answer the call
Throughout the day, the Browns defense was being asked to bail the team out. And time after time, they answered the call. That was the case once again late in the fourth quarter of this one as they did everything they could to ensure they would improve to 7-3. Tied 10-10, Jim Schwartz sent his unit out following a quick series. A 12-yard play on first down seemed to give them some momentum but Ogbo Okoronkwo stuffed Najee Harris for a yard loss and two plays later, the Steelers were punting again.
Like clockwork, the offense had the ball for just 1:47 and put the defense back on the field. They answered, once again, in a huge way. This time, they forced a punt on three plays while allowing just 14 seconds to come off the clock. Cleveland then got the ball at their own 35 with under a minute and a half to go.
DTR comes through in the clutch
With one final chance and hardly any time left, Thompson-Robinson rose to the occasion. The rookie led his offense on a seven play drive that covered 48 yards. That set up Dustin Hopkins for a game-winner from 34 yards out. On the winning drive, the rookie was impressive going 4-of-4 for 39 yards before spiking the ball with five second left.
For the second week in a row, Hopkins hit a kick to give his team the win. Last week, it was a 33-31 win over Baltimore, and now 13-10 over the Steelers. Cleveland is now 7-3 and even without Watson, they seem dangerous thanks to their impressive defense.