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In Cleveland, hope dies last

Archive for the category “AFC North”

Browns come home with everything but a win

browns lose to pittsburghIt was a tale of two halves for the Cleveland Browns in their opening game on Sunday in Pittsburgh.

Unfortunately this tale had an ending that is all too familiar to Browns fans.

The Browns rallied back from a 27-3 halftime deficit to tie the score, only to lose on a last-second field goal.

“I told the team afterward that this is a pass-fail league,” head coach Mike Pettine said after the game. “And we failed.”

The loss was the Browns 10th consecutive on opening day – a league record – and their 14th loss in their past 15 visits to Heinz Field.

Sticking with Pettine’s theme of Pass/Fail, here are a few things the Browns got right and few they got wrong against the Steelers.

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Browns vs. Steelers – 5 things to watch in Week 1

browns steelers week 1 previewThe Cleveland Browns open the 2014 NFL season today against the Steelers in Pittsburgh.

The last time the Browns opened a season in Pittsburgh, in 1989, they beat the Steelers 51-0 to start a year that saw the Browns advance to the AFC Championship Game.

It’s safe to say it has been all downhill since then for the Browns and their one-time rival.

The Browns have only beaten the Steelers twice in the past seven years, have only one win in their past 14 games at Heinz Field, and have gone 5-31 against Pittsburgh over the past 36 meetings between the two teams.

It’s not just Pittsburgh, either, as season-opening games have not been kind to the Browns since 1999.

The Browns have lost nine consecutive opening games; lose today against the Steelers and they would set an NFL record for opening-day futility.

“That’s something that’s a big part of our prep (but) understanding that that has nothing to do with us,” Browns head coach Mike Pettine said earlier this week. “That has nothing to do with this game. That has nothing to do with us moving forward. That was our message back in the spring when we said, ‘Hey, recognize the history, but break off the rear view mirror.’ This is just another way to prove that.”

As the Browns get ready to start reversing those disappointing numbers today in Pittsburgh, here are five things to watch for.

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Spanning the AFC North

Jamoris Slaughter

We hardly knew you, Jamoris Slaughter.

As the Cleveland Browns prepare for their three-day mandatory minicamp this week – the final time the team will be together before the start of training camp in July, the team continues to tweak the roster and purge it of marginal players signed by Joe Banner and Mike Lombardi.

Last week it was the release of outside linebacker Quentin Groves, brought it last year because he knew Ray Horton’s defense. With Horton now in Tennessee and Groves limited last season due to injuries, there was no longer a spot on the roster for him.

On Monday, it was safety Jamoris Slaughter, who the Browns drafted in the sixth round of the 2013 NFL Draft after Slaughter missed all but three games of his senior season at Notre Dame. Slaughter spent all of last season in injured reserve as he tried to come back from an Achilles tendon tear.

The move leaves just four players from the 2013 draft: linebacker Barkevious Mingo, cornerback Leon McFaddene (who may not have a spot on the roster come September), seventh-round defensive lineman Armonty Bryant and seventh-round offensive lineman Garrett Gilkey.

Quite an impressive haul from the first (and only) draft from Banner and Lombardi in Cleveland.

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Browns lose to Steelers. What else is new?

browns beaten steelersWe’ll start with the good point from the Cleveland Browns latest loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Because, shockingly enough, there was a bright spot in the Browns 27-11 loss, the 16th time the Browns have loss to the Steelers with Ben Roethlisberger at quarterback and the 24th time they have lost to the Steelers in the past 28 meetings.

Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon tied a team record with 14 receptions and set a franchise record with 237 receiving yards. Gordon remains the lone bright spot on an otherwise dismal offense.

Gordon also scored the Browns lone touchdown on the day, a one-yard pass from Brandon Weeden. And the fact that we just told you Weeden was in the game tells you everything you need to know about how things went for the Browns.

The Browns are done, at least on offense, and there is the very real possibility that they are going to finish the season at 4-12.

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Browns vs. Steelers – Week 12 preview

2013_11_browns_steelers_previewThe Cleveland Browns return home on Sunday to take on the Pittsburgh Steelers.

It will be the first of two meetings over the season’s final six games between the longtime rivals, and the outcomes will have a major impact on the race for the final playoff spot in the AFC.

Even though the Browns lost in disappointing fashion last week in Cincinnati, because of some fortuitous losses by other teams, both the Browns and the Steelers still find themselves in the playoff hunt despite sporting 4-6 records.

The winner of this weekend’s game gets to continue on in the playoff race for at least another week, while the loser faces an increasingly difficult task on what is already an arduous journey.

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Browns take a tumble on the road to respectability

Jason CampbellFifteen minutes. All it took was 15 minutes on Sunday at Paul Brown Stadium for the Cleveland Browns to throw away the team’s biggest opportunity in six years.

And even by the Browns standards it was pretty absurd.

The Browns took a 13-0 lead in the first quarter thanks to the defense – highlighted by Joe Haden’s interception return for a touchdown – as the Cleveland made Cincinnati starting quarterback Andy Dalton look like the average (at best) quarterback that he is.

But the Browns squandered two opportunities when they could not convert a first-and-goal at the Cincinnati two-yard line into a touchdown and then, on their next possession, could not turn a first-and-10 at the Bengals 14-yard line into touchdowns. Instead, the Browns settled for field goals, which anyone watching the Browns for long enough knew was going to be a problem down the line.

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Browns vs. Bengals – Week 10

2013_11_browns_bengals_previewThe Cleveland Browns head to Cincinnati on Sunday to take on the Bengals. More importantly, the game presents the Browns with the opportunity to truly enter the playoff picture in the AFC.

A win puts the Browns just a half-game behind the Bengals and gives Cleveland a season sweep of Cincinnati, an important tie-breaker in what may be a tight race for the AFC North division title.

The Browns come into the game off a big home win against Baltimore, while the Bengals have lost consecutive overtime games on the road.

Can the Browns win in Cincinnati for the first time since 2008 and sweep the Bengals for the first time since 2002?

Well, that’s the question, isn’t it?

We break it all down in our preview at The Cleveland Fan.

(Photo courtesy of

Browns vs. Ravens – Week 9

2013_11_browns_ravens_previewThe Cleveland Browns return home on Sunday to take on the Baltimore Ravens in the first of three consecutive games against AFC North Division foes.

The Browns are coming off a game in Kansas City where they fell behind to the Chiefs, staged a rally, only crossed midfield once in their final five drives of the game, and walked out of Arrowhead Stadium the possessors of a moral victory to much jubilation.

Can the Browns pick up an actual victory against a Ravens team that the Browns have not beaten in their last 11 tries?

We start to find out in our game preview at The Cleveland Fan.

(Photo courtesy of

Even when the Browns do something right …

hi-res-158710743_crop_exact… it doesn’t pay off in the standings.

One of the long-held beliefs in the NFL is the need to build a team “from within” – meaning you should focus on having a strong offensive and defensive line.

The Browns have been doing just that the past few years and it is starting to pay off in one respect, as Pro Football Focus ranked the offensive line as the fifth best in the NFL.

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Browns vs. Steelers – Week 17

4X9E1696--nfl_large_580_1000The Cleveland Browns head to Pittsburgh to take on the Steelers in the final game of the 2012 NFL season.

Thaddeus Lewis, who has never taken a snap at the NFL level, will start at quarterback for the Browns, with Brandon Weeden and Colt McCoy both out with shoulder injuries.

And Lewis won’t have Trent Richardson to hand the ball to, as the rookie running back will miss the game with an ankle injury.

Yeah, this is going to be some kind of party.

And it is one of those weeks where we are thankful for NFL Sunday Ticket.

Full preview starts now at The Cleveland Fan.

(Photo by

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