With 1:46 to play Sunday, the Cleveland Browns had a real chance to beat the depleted Pittsburgh Steelers and avoid an 0-15 season. Down 28-24, the Browns simply had to convert a fourth-and-2, then advance the rest of the way from the Steelers’ 27-yard line to the end zone.
On the fateful fourth-down play, quarterback DeShone Kizer dodged Pittsburgh pressure, slipped from the pocket and found a wide-open Corey Coleman who… dropped a pass right at his hands, well beyond the first-down marker.
— Maximiliano Bretos (@mbretosESPN) December 31, 2017
After the horrifying drop, Pittsburgh ran out the clock, relegating the Browns to the second 0-16 season in NFL history. Cleveland is now 1-31 over the past two seasons, 4-44 over the past three and 38-122 over the past 10 seasons.
The whole situation can be aptly summed up in two tweets. First, this image of Coleman on the sideline after his costly drop:
Great shot. Gotta feel for Coleman. pic.twitter.com/JBkEqyIrja
— Jay Morrison (@JayMorrisonCMG) December 31, 2017
And second, this message from the Browns’ official account:
— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) December 31, 2017
Somewhat remarkably, an 0-16 season immediately following a 1-15 season will not cost Browns coach Hue Jackson his job. Owner Jimmy Haslam announced Sunday that Jackson will be back for a third season in 2018, to the chagrin of Browns fans who want to entirely clean house after the most embarrassing season in franchise history.
All this losing does come with a silver lining for Cleveland. Not only will the Browns have the No. 1 overall pick in April’s NFL Draft, they will also have the No. 4 overall pick, thanks to a trade with the Texans that netted Houston Deshaun Watson. Of course, cynics will say that Cleveland will simply mess up their top selections in 2018 as they have so often in the past. And given the recent history of this franchise, it’s tough to assume anything else.