Saturday released a lot of pent-up emotion for Tracy Howard and his Browns teammates, but now the focus must turn to the immediate and long-term future.
“I feel better today than I did at any time during this year, to be honest with you,” coach Hue Jackson said.
Which is fine. But cold, hard reality awaits Sunday and when the season ends.
The Browns have to win in Pittsburgh to avoid a 1-15 finish, which would be the worst in the team’s 66-year history. Not since 2009 has an NFL team finished 1-15, with the St. Louis Rams having that dubious honor. And not since 2003 have the Browns won in Pittsburgh, a streak of 12 games in a row. In seven of the past eight, the Browns have not scored more than 14 points.
That’s a Steelers smack in the face.
Other issues also remain.
Limited Youth Ryan Kelly Jersey A favorite target of quarterback Jameis Winston, Brate’s absence was felt in the fourth quarter when, down 31-21, Winston failed to connect with backup Brandon Myers in the end zone on two consecutive plays from the Saints’ 17-yard line. The drive stalled at the New Orleans 17 and the Bucs settled for a field goal, ultimately losing 31-24.
Brate caught a 12-yard touchdown strike from Winston in the second quarter Saturday, tying Jimmie Giles’ franchise record for most touchdowns by a tight end in a single season (eight). That record has stood since 1985. A touchdown against the Carolina Panthers this Sunday would have broken it.
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Brate finishes his season with 57 catches for 660 yards. His eight touchdown catches are the most in the league among tight ends and are second on the Bucs behind Mike Evans.
The Bucs also placed cornerback Jude Adjei-Barimah on IR with an undisclosed injury and re-signed running back Russell Hansbrough.