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Biggest Plays

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6 plays that changed the game in the Browns' win over the Steelers

The Cleveland Browns are heading to the postseason.

That line became true for the first time in 18 years Sunday after the Browns defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers, 24-22, at FirstEnergy Stadium. Cleveland used two second-half touchdowns and an interception to surge ahead for good, and despite a late comeback effort from the Steelers, the Browns held off their AFC North rival to seal their trip to the postseason.

Here were the biggest plays from a historic afternoon in Cleveland.

1. Chubb rushed 47 yards to the end zone, breaks 1,000 yards

Nick Chubb broke 1,000 yards in grand style.

He didn't take long to do it, either. On the Browns' first offensive drive of the game, Chubb plowed through the Steelers' defense for a 47-yard touchdown that gave Cleveland a 7-0 lead. Chubb only needed to make a couple of cuts around defenders to find plenty of green grass, and by the time he crossed the 20-yard line, Chubb — who had already rushed for 14 yards on the drive and was 27 yards away from the 1,000 yards when he took was the handoff — had officially broken the seasonal milestone.

But he didn't stop there. The 20 yards left between Chubb and the end zone were wide open, and he had an easy sprint past the entire defense to give the Browns a crucial early lead.

2. Mayfield throws to Hooper for second Browns TD

Baker Mayfield deserves as much credit as possible for putting the Browns in position for their second touchdown.

After moving the Browns into Steelers territory with a pair of 13- and 14-yard passes, Mayfield tucked the ball into his chest on first-and-10 from the 44 and made a sprint past the defense.

He had plenty of space in front of him and was pushed out of bounds at the 16.

Then, the Browns moved closer to the end zone with a short pickup from Chubb and a first-down pass from Mayfield to receiver KhaDarel Hodge.

Next play? Touchdown. This one was easy for Mayfield, who took the snap, faked a handoff and turned around to see tight end Austin Hooper alone running to his left.

That gave the Browns a 17-6 lead and moved them even closer to a trip to the playoffs.

3. Stewart intercepts Rudolph, returns the ball to the red zone

The Browns secondary was without three of its top players in Denzel Ward, Kevin Johnson and Andrew Sendejo, but that didn't stop the unit from making game-changing plays.

The biggest one came on the first Steelers drive after the Browns' second touchdown, and it was delivered by cornerback M.J. Stewart Jr. Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph faced heavy pressure on third-and-9 from Pittsburgh's 42 and attempted a difficult throw to wide receiver Juju Smith-Schuster.

The pass was lobbed into the air and had no shot of a completion. Stewart was right under it and made an easy grab and then dashed around the Steelers' offense for a 30-yard return.

Cleveland was getting big plays from both sides of the ball. But Stewart's grab set up another game-changing play.

4. Landry takes end-around into the end zone for touchdown No. 3

By the time the Browns moved the ball to the Steelers' 3-yard line, they seemed unstoppable.

The last two drives of the game ended with a Browns touchdown and a Browns interception. Cleveland was rolling through Pittsburgh, but coach Kevin Stefanski made a creative play call to ensure the Browns could find their third touchdown of the afternoon.

Wide receiver Jarvis Landry was called in motion and took the snap from Mayfield on a handoff. There weren't enough defenders to contain Landry, who snuck around the left side of the offensive line and dove through the goal-line for six more points and a 24-9 Browns lead.

That gave the 12,000 fans at FirstEnergy Stadium another reason to roar in approval. Fourteen minutes were separating the Browns from the playoffs, but a few more big plays were needed to complete the job.

Check out photos of the Steelers against the Browns

5. Browns can't convert on late fourth-and-7

The Browns were looking for any way to score points when they entered Steelers territory with 8 minutes left and a 24-16 lead.

After the Steelers scored their first touchdown of the afternoon to cut their lead to a single possession, the Browns almost got within reasonable field-goal range when running back Kareem Hunt made a 5-yard carry to advance the Browns to the 36. But on the next play, Mayfield took a sack and lost 4 yards, which would've given the Browns a 50-yard attempt if they opted for a fourth-down field-goal try.

Coach Kevin Stefanski kept the offense on the field. Mayfield stepped back again and targeted Higgins for a pass that would've given them the first down, but the pass fell incomplete.

That gave the ball back to the Steelers and gave them one more shot to tie the game.

6. Browns thwart Steelers' 2-point attempt to seal win

The Browns' postseason hopes came down to a two-point conversion.

They had to stop one after the Steelers managed to score a touchdown with 86 seconds left. Rudolph hit Smith-Schuster for the touchdown, but the Browns still had a two-point lead. The defense needed to forget about the play and do it again — this time, they needed to stop the Steelers from the 2.

Rudolph stepped back and looked around. All his receivers were in tight coverage and he had no room to run, so he fired a prayer to Claypool, who was swarmed by defenders.


The fans at FirstEnergy Stadium roared again, and the screaming continued after the Browns recovered an onside kick and got the first down they needed to put the official stamp on the win — and punch their ticket to the playoffs.

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