If the Browns had these four plays back from Sunday's loss to the Steelers, the game might've ended up as a victory. Growing from these missed opportunities will be the key for Cleveland this week against New Orleans.
Play Number One
*6:58 left in the first quarter, second-down and nine, Browns football on the Pittsburgh Steelers 16-yard line. *
What happened: In a pistol formation with a two tight end set, Brian Hoyer danced around inside the pocket until he found an opening to Miles Austin. Hoyer made a great throw, leading Austin to his right side for additional yards after the catch. But a flag came in. Illegal shift.
The result: Instead of having the ball first-and-goal inside the five-yard line, the Browns were backed up five yards.
Play Number Two
6:27 left in the first quarter, second-down and 14, Browns football on the Pittsburgh Steelers 21-yard line.
What happened: On the very next play, the Browns did not capitalize an even bigger scoring opportunity. Steelers defensive lineman Brett Keisel was able to beat left guard Joel Bitonio on what looked like a missed assignment. Keisel came with a full head of steam to force Hoyer to get rid of the football quickly, an incomplete pass at the feet of Andrew Hawkins. Because of the immediate pressure, the Browns' quarterback missed an absolutely wide open Ben Tate on a swing route out of the backfield. The play would've resulted in a big gain, and likely a touchdown.
The result: Two plays later, Cleveland settled for a Billy Cundiff field goal.
Play Number Three
:33 left in the third quarter, third-down and one, Browns football on the Pittsburgh Steelers five-yard line.
What happened: With two tight ends and only Travis Benjamin split out wide, the Browns were in an obvious running situation. Hoyer took the snap and motioned backwards like he was supposed to hand it off. But to fullback Ray Agnew, or running back Isaiah Crowell? There was a miscommunication and the play turned into a busted one in which Hoyer was wrapped up for a loss.
The result: The Browns settled for a Cundiff field goal.
Play Number Four
:20 left in the fourth quarter, first-down and 10, Steelers football at the Cleveland Browns' 44-yard line.
What happened: Without any timeouts, the Steelers needed at least a 15-yard gain to feel comfortable about a game-winning field goal opportunity. Ben Roethlisberger found Markus Wheaton, who beat Justin Gilbert on a shifty inside move. It's apparent on the tape that Gilbert slipped and fell. Donte Whitner was in the middle of the field on a zone coverage, but was shadowing another route. The Browns used Tashaun Gipson as the absolute deep safety on the right side. With only 20 seconds left, the Steelers weren't trying for a touchdown. They were going for a field goal. Gipson could've been utilized closer to the first-down marker, and to give the rookie Gilbert additional help.