The Browns should've beaten the Steelers on Sunday. It would've been their first season-opening win since 2004, however the inertial awfulness of this team in the Hue Jackson era meant they'd have to settle for a tie.
But hey, progress!
Looking back, there are reasons for optimism; 2017 first overall pick Myles Garrett was damn-near unblockable at times. He finished with three tackles for loss, one pass defended and two sacks. Turns out, he should have been credited for a third sack because on Monday the NFL conceded that it wrongly flagged Garrett for roughing the passer early in the 2nd quarter in a scoreless game.
It's hard to figure out how Garrett was supposed to tackle Ben Roethlisberger other than the way he did it.
"It wasn't a very sensical explanation,'' Garrett said of the flag after the game, via Cleveland.com. "I don't know how from that angle I can hit him and put him into the ground, so you don't want to tackle him. You kind of just have to tackle him into the ground. So you don't you put your body weight or almost all your body weight into him, so I have to torque myself out of the way. So hopefully that gets adjusted or something's changed about that, but we'll see. I'm not going to change how I'm hitting because that's how I've always been taught."
The league, it turns out, agrees.
"The rule specifically says 'most, if not all, of your body weight,'" NFL vice president of officiating Al Riveron told NFL Network, via Cleveland.com. "So we want that player to make an effort.
"And the last three or four weeks, we have pulled extensive video to show the clubs exactly what we're talking about, and we probably last week showed 5-to-1 or 6-to-1 of legal hits, or legal contact, as opposed to illegal contact. Because the question we get all the time is, well, what do you want our players to do? Well, they have to not put the weight on the quarterback. And this one [on Garrett] yesterday showed, even though there is some body weight on Ben, this is not what we would consider contact that rises to the level of a foul."
Unfortunately for the Browns, what should've been a drive-killing sack that forced the Steelers to attempt a field goal instead turned into this a play later:
Pittsburgh would lead 21-7 midway through the 3rd quarter before back-to-back turnovers led Cleveland to tie the game. The Steelers had six turnovers on the day, the last coming with 41 seconds left in overtime. Linebacker Joe Schobert recovered a Ben Roethlisberger fumble and returned it to the Steelers' 14-yard line. But a block-in-the-back penalty on Garrett -- this time it was the right call -- brought the ball back to the 24. The Browns lost a yard on first down, setting up the 43-yard attempt that never had a chance.
Now the Browns head to New Orleans. They're 13-4 all-time versus the Saints, 5-1 since 1993, 3-0 in the Super Dome since 1999, and have won despite being 6 and 12.5-point underdogs in their meetings in 2010 and 2014.