PITTSBURGH – Here are my final thoughts from the Browns’ 20-7 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers Sunday at Heinz Field:
>>There was an eerie sense of déjà vu during and after this game. A year ago, the Browns closed a dismal season here amid reports that Pat Shurmur, after only two years as head coach, would be dismissed the next day (and he was). On Sunday, Rob Chudzinski spent most of his postgame news conference answering questions about his future after only one season on the job. He gave a matter-of-fact summary of the situation by saying, “It comes with the territory.”
>>It’s impossible to put any sort of positive spin on yet another 4-12 Browns season. That’s the fifth since 2004. Three of the other five have been 5-11. Although I wasn’t expecting this to be a playoff season, I thought the Browns would be at least a few games better and take a first meaningful step toward becoming a contender. After surging from a 0-2 start with a three-game winning streak and then beating the Ravens to remain relevant into November, it was easy to start getting carried away with the idea that the Browns might, in fact, reach the postseason this year. That undoubtedly added to the disappointment of what would follow. But no matter how you look at it, the season ending with a seven-game losing streak makes it extremely difficult to see much in the way of progress and hope. It looks too painfully familiar.
>>For the third game in a row,
>>Just as in their Nov. 24 loss to the Steelers at FirstEnergy Stadium, the Browns failed to generate a whole lot of pressure on Roethlisberger. He was sacked only once on Sunday, which was one more time than he was sacked in the previous game. The Browns’ defense is supposed to be built to put considerable heat on the quarterback, even one who is as difficult to bring to the ground as the large and mobile Roethlisberger. It is supposed to get him on the ground often, and force him into turnovers and other mistakes. That hasn’t happened nearly often enough this season, which is part of the reason for another dreadful finish.
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