PITTSBURGH – Pat Shurmur’s career as Browns coach is expected to be over by Monday.
If that’s the case, he ended with a 24-10 loss to the Steelers.
The Browns played hard – sometimes too hard – in the season finale, but a few crucial mistakes cost them. They finished 5-11 and haven’t won at least six games in a season since 2007.
Shurmur is 9-23 in two seasons.
Quarterback Thaddeus Lewis looked poised in his first NFL action, going 23-for-32 for 204 yards, a touchdown and an interception. He left the game in the final two minutes after taking a huge hit on a sack.
The touchdown was a 5-yard pass to Greg Little in the back of the end zone after Lewis bought time and rolled left. But he threw an interception in the red zone in the first quarter to end a scoring threat and struggled on deep balls.
He wasn’t the only Browns player with a big negative play.
** Rookie receiver Josh Gordon fumbled on Cleveland’s 25-yard line, setting up a Pittsburgh touchdown before halftime. Gordon injured his ankle on the play and didn’t return.
** A promising drive at the end of the third quarter stalled after a false start penalty on left guard John Greco – he later left with a knee injury – a sack and a holding penalty on Joe Thomas.
** Rookie receiver Travis Benjamin fumbled after a 13-yard completion in the fourth quarter as the Browns tried to rally. He wasn’t touched after he slid down with the catch – the call withstood a replay review — got up and had the ball poked away by cornerback Cortez Allen.
The Steelers turned the turnover into a game-sealing touchdown on a 12-yard pass from Ben Roethlisberger to Plaxico Burress.
** Phil Dawson, voted to the Pro Bowl last week, missed a 39-yard field goal. He bounced back with a 51-yarder.
Tempers flared in the third quarter after Browns defensive tackle Phil Taylor knocked Steelers lineman Kelvin Beachum from the game with a forearm behind the play. Beachum was tested for a concussion and didn’t return.
The Steelers went after Taylor on the next play and there were several skirmishes the rest of the way. Browns defensive linemen Billy Winn and Ahtyba Rubin received personal fouls following a Pittsburgh extra point.
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