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Browns experience Pittsburgh déjà vu

Posted Dec 29, 2013

Senior Editor Vic Carucci offers his thoughts on the Browns’ 20-7 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers Sunday at Heinz Field.

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.

>>With a lineup missing cornerback Joe Haden, nose tackle Phil Taylor, and offensive guards Shawn Lauvao and Jason Pinkston among others, the Browns figured to have little chance of being competitive. But as has repeatedly happened in this bizarre season – during which the Browns seemingly did everything to win at Cincinnati and still lost and everything to win at New England and still lost – the Browns managed to intercept Ben Roethlisberger twice, limit him to 179 passing yards, and still lose in lopsided fashion.

>>For the third game in a row, Edwin Baker demonstrated that he has the goods to provide some desperately needed spark to the Browns’ running game. The guy doesn’t look to be a primary running back, but he definitely could be a very capable complement. He consistently hits holes hard and explodes into the open field. Baker might not necessarily be able to break a long touchdown run, but he certainly can make his sure of significant gains. He is going to be fun to watch in the future.

>>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.

>>Carucci’s Call is presented by Revol Wireless. Save With Us.

>>Be sure to tune in Monday through Friday, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. ET, for Cleveland Browns Daily, Driven by Liberty Ford on ESPN 850 WKNR or catch the live stream right here on ClevelandBrowns.com.

>>Have a question for “Cleveland Browns Daily, Driven by Liberty Ford”? Ask me at Twitter.com/viccarucci or by e-mail at daily@clevelandbrowns.com or by calling 855-363-2459.