Share:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window) Image by Matt Starkey / ClevelandBrowns.com.PITTSBURGH (AP) — So much for the weight of history. Or practicing. Or having your head coach on the sideline. Or an emotional leader on the field.The Cleveland Browns overcame all of it. The burden of carrying the mantle of a franchise that’s long been a punchline. A schedule ravaged by a COVID-19 outbreak. A rival that for years has treated them like a harmless little brother.All of that’s over. For now. And maybe for good.The Browns dismantled the Pittsburgh Steelers 48-37 in the wild-card round Sunday night, picking up the franchise’s first postseason victory in more than a quarter-century and earning a trip to Kansas City next Sunday to face the defending Super Bowl champions. “We believe in the people in the room no matter what’s going on,” quarterback Baker Mayfield said. “We knew that everybody was counting us out. There was no extra pressure or anything. No one believed in us besides us.”Playing with first-year head coach Kevin Stefanski, Pro Bowl guard Joel Bitonio and top cornerback Denzel Ward back in Cleveland after all tested positive for COVID-19, Cleveland (12-5) raced to the biggest first half by a road team in NFL playoff history then held on.Mayfield threw for 263 yards and three touchdowns, including a screen pass that Nick Chubb turned into a 40-yard score that halted Pittsburgh’s momentum after the Steelers pulled within 12. Kareem Hunt added 48 yards and two TDs on the ground while Cleveland’s defense forced five turnovers to hand the Steelers (12-5) a staggering loss.The victory was the Browns’ first postseason triumph of any kind since beating New England on New Year’s Day 1995 — three months before Mayfield was born — and their first playoff win on the road since Dec. 28, 1969.The significance wasn’t lost on special teams coordinator Mike Priefer, a Cleveland native who found himself filling in when Stefanski tested positive for COVID-19.“I grew up (a Browns fan), so I know what this means,” Priefer said.Cleveland did it despite practicing just once over the last two weeks and having lost 17 straight at Heinz Field. The Browns did it with efficiency and swagger. And they did it with Priefer at the controls and offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt taking over the play-calling duties as Stefanski watched in his basement back in Ohio.“We have a resilient team,” Mayfield said. “Defense played great in the first half and we kind of stalled out and let them climb back in the game, but that’s a great team win right there — guys stepping up all over the board. I’m proud of these guys.”The Steelers certainly helped, ending a season in which they started 11-0 with a thud that could reverberate for years. Ben Roethlisberger ended his comeback season by throwing for 501 yards on an NFL-record 47 completions with four touchdowns and four interceptions.“I don’t have any magical answers,” Roethlisberger said. “We just didn’t put it together. Tonight, the glaring issues is we turned the ball over.”And over. And over. And the NFL’s third-ranked defense could do little to stem the tide. The Steelers led the NFL in sacks but failed to get to Mayfield. Cleveland’s 48 points were the most Pittsburgh has given up in the playoffs, surpassing the 45 to Jacksonville in the 2017 playoffs.Pittsburgh’s problems started on the first play from scrimmage when center Maurkice Pouncey’s snap sailed by Roethlisberger into the end zone. Cleveland’s Karl Joseph fell on it for a touchdown. Roethlisberger threw three first-half interceptions, two of which led directly to Browns scores.By the time the Steelers found their footing, they were down 28-0. Even when they did get it going on a 1-yard touchdown run by James Conner with 1:44 to go in the half, the Browns stormed right back. Mayfield capped a cathartic opening half with a masterful 64-yard drive that ended with a 7-yard toss to Austin Hooper with 34 seconds remaining. Pittsburgh countered with a field goal in the closing seconds but trailed 35-10 at the break.Pittsburgh tried to claw back in it. The Steelers pulled within 35-23 at the end of the third quarter. Facing fourth-and-1 at the Pittsburgh 46 on the first play of the fourth, Tomlin opted to punt.“I wanted to pin them down and maybe provide a short field for their offense,” Tomlin said. “I just wanted to keep the momentum going in terms of field positioning.”It didn’t work out. The kick bounced into the end zone for a touchback and Mayfield calmly took Cleveland 80 yards in six plays. The sideline erupted as Chubb streaked into the end zone.So much for the Browns being the Browns, a winking assessment Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster made about Cleveland in the middle of the week. Regardless of the intent — Smith-Schuster said after the game he didn’t regret it — Mayfield and All-Pro defensive end Myles Garrett took it to heart.Then, in front of a mostly empty stadium and a national audience so accustomed to seeing them stumble, the Browns, who didn’t win a game in Garrett’s first season, took out their frustration by landing one haymaker after another.“We’re the Cleveland Browns,” Garrett said with a smirk. “Same old Cleveland Browns.”Not so much anymore.INJURIESBrowns: All-Pro tackle Jack Conklin was cleared to play after being listed as questionable with an “illness” on Friday. His return didn’t last long. He exited in the first half with a hamstring injury. Guard Michael Dunn, stepping in for Bitonio, left in the fourth quarter with a calf issue.Steelers: Rookie linebacker Alex Highsmith sustained a high ankle sprain in the second half and did not return.UP NEXTBrowns: Will make their first divisional-round appearance since the 1994 playoffs when they face the Chiefs.Steelers: Head into what will be a busy offseason. Several high-profile players, including Smith-Schuster and outside linebacker Bud Dupree, will become free agents. The 38-year-old Roethlisberger will also have to decide whether he wants to return for an 18th season.
Greensburg, In. — The Greensburg/Decatur County Chamber of Commerce will hold the 13th Annual Women’s Conference, “Power and Purpose” June 13 at the Greensburg Elementary School from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.For registration information click here.
With all seven of Canada’s teams in action on “Hockey Day in Canada,” it was one of the newest players north of the border that stole the show in an overtime thriller between the Montreal Canadiens and the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday.Knotted at one score apiece, the Canadian rivals headed to a 3-on-3 overtime period with Ilya Kovalchuk emerging as the hero in front of the home fans at the Bell Centre. TRADE RUMORS: Chris Kreider | Alexandar Georgiev | Jason Zucker |Brenden DillonIt started — as many overtime rushes do — with a save at the other end of the ice, courtesy of Carey Price. Pushing the puck off his blocker to center ice, Nick Suzuki grabbed the rubber disk and headed for the net, all alone. Newly-acquired Toronto goalie Jack Campbell, who is filling in for the injured Frederik Andersen, poked the puck away, but straight to a trailing Kovalchuk who made no doubt about it, sending it to the back of the net and commencing mayhem in Montreal.Ilya Kovalchuk marque le but gagnant @EASportsNHL 3 contre 3! Encore.Ilya Kovalchuk with the @EASportsNHL 3-on-3 winner! Again.#GoHabsGo | #HockeyIsForEveryone pic.twitter.com/JMA1ThY4Uy— Canadiens Montréal (@CanadiensMTL) February 9, 2020Kovalchuk’s tally put him in sole possession of third place on the all-time, regular-season overtime goal list with 17, trailing only Alex Ovechkin (23) and Jaromir Jagr (19).Ilya Kovalchuk scored his 17th career regular-season overtime goal – third most in NHL history behind Alex Ovechkin (23) and Jaromir Jagr (19). https://t.co/wN52nCfAL9 #NHLStats pic.twitter.com/Ak0js3AePo— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) February 9, 2020Pumping his fist, flailing his arms and screaming until his face was as red as his sweater, Kovalchuk was pumped. He brought that energy back to the locker room, as well.INJURY UPDATES: Shea Weber | Mark Giordano Il-YEAH Kovalchuk 🗣️#GoHabsGo | #HockeyIsForEveryone pic.twitter.com/zhiSlhlhX3— Canadiens Montréal (@CanadiensMTL) February 9, 2020After being released by the Los Angeles Kings earlier this season, Kovalchuk signed a one-year deal with the Habs and has felt a resurgence since moving to Quebec. In 17 games with the Kings this season, the forward had just three goals and six helpers but in 15 games with a better Habs team, he has 12 points (six goals, six assists).His name has been tossed around in trade talks, but if Kovalchuk can produce offense and the Canadiens can keep their playoff hopes alive, his $700,000 deal starts to look even more favorable to Montreal the longer their season goes and the more points No. 17 racks up. Currently, the Canadiens (61 points) sit five points behind the Maple Leafs (66) for an Atlantic Division playoff spot and six points out of the second Eastern Conference wild card, currently held by the Philadelphia Flyers (67).Welcome to the rivalry, Ilya.
Campfire program, 8-9 p.m. Saturday at Placerita Canyon Nature Center, 19152 Placerita Canyon Road, Newhall. Call (661) 259-7721. Ranger-led nature hike, 11 a.m. the second, third and fourth Sundays of each month at Vasquez Rocks Natural Area, 10700 W. Escondido Canyon Road, Agua Dulce. Call (661) 268-0840. Circus Vargas will be in town, Monday-June 1 at Saugus Speedway, 22500 Soledad Canyon Road, Saugus. Kids are invited to watch the big top as it is lifted up, 2 p.m. Monday. For tickets to the circus, visit www.circusvargas.org. To submit an event for the Things To Do calendar, contact Sharon Cotal two weeks prior to the event at (661) 257-5256, fax her at (661) 257-5262, e-mail her at [email protected] or write to her at 24800 Avenue Rockefeller, Valencia, CA, 91355.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORE11 theater productions to see in Southern California this week, Dec. 27-Jan. 2“Don’t Dress For Dinner” will be presented, 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays through June 17 at the Repertory East Playhouse, 24266 San Fernando Road, Newhall. Tickets: $16 for adults and $14 for students and seniors. Call (661) 288-0000. Brian Sheil and Tom Clarke will perform, 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday at J.R.’s Comedy Club located inside Marie Callender’s at 27630 The Old Road, Valencia. Cost: $12; or $22.99 for dinner and the show. Call (661) 259-2291 or visit www.comedyinvalencia.com. Memorial weekend event, 10 a.m. Saturday at the Veterans Historical Plaza, 24275 Walnut St., Newhall. Cal (661) 286-4018. Tesoro Adobe Historic Park is open to the public, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. every Saturday with guided tours of the Harry Carey/Farmer John Ranch House, 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Call (661) 702-8953. Family Nature Walk, 11 a.m.-noon, and an animal presentation, 1-2 p.m., every Saturday at Placerita Canyon Park and Nature Center, 19152 Placerita Canyon Road, Newhall. Call (661) 259-7721. Spring Desert Flower outing for seniors, 10 a.m. today from Santa Clarita United Methodist Church, 26640 Bouquet Canyon Road, Saugus. Call (661) 297-3783 to reserve a spot. Spring jazz concert, “All About Jazz,” 7:30 p.m. today at the Valencia High School Theater, 27801 N. Dickason Drive, Valencia. Cost: $5. Call (661) 294-1188. LETMESAIL, Inc. will host a therapeutic drumming session for individuals 16 or older with disabilities, 7-9 p.m. Friday at the Lifestyle Enrichment Center, 28304 Constellation Road, Valencia. Requested donation: $5. Call (661) 702-8555. “Jackie and the Beanstalk” will be presented, 7 p.m. Friday at the Hart High School auditorium, 24825 N. Newhall Ave., Newhall. Call (661) 259-7575.