Woe and 16: Browns go winless after 28-24 loss to Steelers

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PITTSBURGH (AP) The Cleveland Browns joined the 2008 Detroit Lions as the only teams in NFL history to go 0-16 when they failed to find a way to beat the backup-laden Pittsburgh Steelers in a 28-24 loss on Sunday.

Cleveland had a chance late in the fourth quarter, but quarterback DeShone Kizer‘s fourth-down pass to Corey Coleman bounced off Coleman’s hands and fell incomplete.

And for the 16th time in 2017, the Browns walked off the field searching for answers that are as elusive now as they’ve been at any point since the franchise’s return to the NFL nearly two decades ago. Head coach Hue Jackson is expected to return despite a 1-31 record and the Browns have two of the top four picks in the 2018 draft.

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Kizer finished with 314 yards passing and two touchdowns to Rashard Higgins but also threw a fourth-quarter pick, his NFL-leading 22nd of the season.

The AFC North champion Steelers (13-3) sat stars Ben Roethlisberger and Le'Veon Bell among others but it hardly mattered. Landry Jones completed 23 of 27 passes for 239 yards with a touchdown and an interception, and rookie wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster caught nine passes for 143 yards and a score. He also returned a kickoff 96 yards for a touchdown.

Pittsburgh sacked Kizer six times, boosting its season total to 56, a franchise record.

Nearly four months removed from a taut 21-18 loss to Pittsburgh in the season opener – a game that seemed to indicate the Browns were ready to take a significant step forward in Jackson’s second year – Cleveland walked onto frigid Heinz Field still looking for its first win in 372 days.

The wait will continue for another eight months following three hours that symbolized Cleveland’s historically miserable season.

While there were bouts of competency, including a pair of takeaways by the defense and long Kizer hookups to Higgins and Josh Gordon, the Browns simply could not get out of their own way. Twice in the first half they drew third-down defensive penalties that extended Pittsburgh drives. Three times in the fourth quarter they had the ball and a chance to go ahead.

The first two ended with turnovers, giving Cleveland an NFL-high 41 on the season. The third ended with Kizer somehow escaping pressure on fourth down at the Pittsburgh 27 only to have his pass clank off Coleman’s hands and fall to the frozen turf, one last missed opportunity in a year filled with far too many.

While Jackson, who will jump in Lake Erie at some point in the near future to fulfill his vow the Browns wouldn’t go 1-15 as they did in 2016, is expected back in 2018, another offseason filled with searching awaits.


Browns: “With the first pick in the 2018 NFL draft, the Cleveland Browns select … ”

Steelers: Will enjoy a week off before hosting the divisional round the weekend of Jan. 13-14.

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Browns move to brink of winless season, lose 20-3 to Bears

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CHICAGO (AP) The Cleveland Browns got pushed to the brink of a winless season, hurt by two more interceptions by DeShone Kizer and two turnovers in the red zone on the way to a 20-3 loss to the Chicago Bears on a snowy Sunday.

One more loss and the Browns will join the 2008 Detroit Lions as the only teams to go 0-16.

And the Browns will wrap up the season at AFC North leader Pittsburgh next week.

Then again, the Browns (0-15) keep racking up losses no matter whom they’re playing.

They’re 1-30 in two seasons under coach Hue Jackson. And after beating the then-San Diego Chargers on Christmas Eve last year, there was no holiday celebration for them this time.

Kizer threw for 182 yards and ran his league leading-interception total to 21. One of those was to a wide-open Kyle Fuller in the end zone in the second quarter.

Defensive end Myles Garrett had what looked like a 42-yard interception return for a touchdown early in the third quarter wiped out because Carl Nassib was offside.

Rashard Higgins lost a fumble near the goal line that Chicago (5-10) recovered in the end zone.

Mitchell Trubisky threw for 193 yards and ran for a touchdown against his hometown team to help the Bears pick up the win in what might be coach John Fox’s final home game at Soldier Field. With a 14-33 record, he could be on his way out after three seasons.

The Bears at least avoided the ultimate indignity in a season full of them by not losing to the Browns.

Trubisky, who grew up near Cleveland, played a big role, completing 14 of 23 passes. He also scrambled for 44 yards, including a 4-yard touchdown in the third quarter.

Jordan Howard ran for two scores, and the Bears came away with the win after dropping six of seven.

The Bears were leading 6-3 when Garrett had his big interception return wiped on the first play from scrimmage in the third. And the Bears drove 60 yards on four plays, with Howard scoring from the 16.

Trubisky made it 20-3 when he scored on a 4-yard draw. That capped a 12-play drive that Howard kept going with his 8-yard run on fourth-and-1 at the 15.

Danny Trevathan then stripped Higgins at the Chicago 3 after a 17-yard reception near the end of the quarter, and the Bears’ Prince Amukamara recovered the fumble in the end zone.


Browns: DE Myles Garrett got poked in the eye on the first play of the fourth quarter but returned to the game.

Bears: RT Bobby Massie suffered a knee injury in the first quarter and played through it. … G Josh Sitton (ankle) and TE Adam Shaheen (chest) were inactive.


Browns: At Pittsburgh on Dec. 31.

Bears: At Minnesota on Dec. 31.

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With eye on playoffs, Brady, Lewis lead Pats by Bills 37-16

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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) Tom Brady passed for a pair of touchdowns and the New England Patriots stayed on track to claim home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs with a 37-16 win over the Buffalo Bills on Sunday.

Dion Lewis caught a touchdown pass and rushed for a 4-yard score. He carried 24 times for career-high 129 yards. It was just his second-career 100-yard game. Mike Gillislee, active for the first time in six games, added a 1-yard rushing touchdown

New England (12-3) can lock up first-round bye with either a Pittsburgh or Jacksonville loss. If both of those teams lose, the Patriots will secure home-field advantage throughout the postseason. The Jaguars play at San Francisco Sunday. The Steelers play at Houston Monday.

Even with the loss, the Bills (8-7) remain in contention to break their 17-year playoff drought. It is longest active streak in North America’s four major professional sports. It is the longest postseason absence since NFL merger in 1970.

New England has won at least 12 games in eight straight seasons – an NFL record.

Buffalo stayed close throughout and went into halftime locked in a 13-13 tie.

But the Bills managed just three points in the final 30 minutes, after a touchdown at the end of the first half was taken away.

Trailing 13-10, Buffalo was in position to take the lead, but an apparent 4-yard touchdown pass from Tyrod Taylor to Kelvin Benjamin in the corner of the end zone was overturned after an official review.

NFL vice president of officiating Al Riveron said in a Twitter post Benjamin was juggling the ball and was only able to get one of his feet down before completing the catch.

“When Kelvin Benjamin gains control, his left foot is off the ground. The receiver only has one foot down in bounds with control. Therefore, it is an incomplete pass,” Riveron wrote.

The Bills were forced to settle for a 23-yard Hauschka field goal as the half expired.

The play elicited immediate reaction on social media.

“Regarding the Buffalo no touchdown, nothing more irritating to an official than to make a great call and then someone in a suit in an office in New York incorrectly reverses it,” he wrote his Twitter feed .

The game was tied at 13 at the half.

The game was tied at 3 on Buffalo’s second possession when Taylor was sacked on a fourth-and-2 run by Marquis Flowers.

On the New England drive, Brady’s third down pass intended for Kenny Britt was intercepted by Jordan Poyer and returned 19 yards for a touchdown.

It was Brady’s eighth interception of the season. He threw two picks in the first 10 weeks, but now has six in his last five games.

The mistake only momentarily slowed down New England’s offense. Brady capped a nine-play, 75-yard drive with a 17-yard pass that Rob Gronkowski pulled in with one hand to tie the game at 10.


Bills: RB Travaris Cadet was carted off the field late in the second quarter with a right ankle injury. … S Micah Hyde left the game after being shaken up in the third quarter. … CB Shareece Wright was shaken up in the fourth quarter, but walked off on his own power.


The pick six thrown by Brady was his first since he was intercepted by Robert Alford in last season’s Super Bowl win. Brady’s last regular season pick six came in Week 13 of 2015 against Philadelphia (Malcolm Jenkins).


Brady’s touchdown 17-yard TD pass to Gronkowski marked the 75th time they have connected for a score. It is the fifth-most all-time between a quarterback and a receiver.


Bills: At Miami in regular-season finale

Patriots: Host Jets in their finale.

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