PITTSBURGH STEELERS VS. CLEVELAND BROWNS
Sunday, Dec. 29, 2013
1 p.m.; CBS
PLAYERS TO WATCH
WR JOSH GORDON**
Despite catching passes from three starting quarterbacks and missing the first two games of the season due to a suspension, Gordon leads the NFL with a franchise-record 1,564 receiving yards. Gordon's total includes the second- and fourth-highest figures in an NFL game this season (261 yards vs. Jacksonville on Dec. 1 and 237 vs. Pittsburgh on Nov. 24). Gordon also leads the NFL in average receiving yards per game (120.3) and average yards per catch (19.6). He has scored 13 of his 14 career touchdowns from 20-plus yards.
LB D'QWELL JACKSON
According to the coaches' film review, Jackson leads the Browns with 134 tackles, his third consecutive season with at least 100 and the sixth of his career. Jackson also has eight passes defensed, 1.5 sacks, one interception, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery. Two of the passes he defensed were intercepted by teammates. Jackson had career-high totals in sacks (3.5) and interceptions (two), while leading the Browns in tackles for a second straight season last season.
ABOUT THE BROWNS
The Browns improved to 3-2 after beating the Bills 37-24 on Oct. 3 but lost QB Brian Hoyer (knee) for the season in the process. Since Hoyer (3-0 as a starter) went down Cleveland has lost nine of 10, including its last six in succession. At 4-11 the Browns have lost at least 11 games for a fifth consecutive season. With one game left in 2013 the Browns are 27-68 over the last six seasons. A win over the Steelers in the season finale would allow the Browns to match the five victories achieved in 2012, Pat Shurmur's last season as the Browns' coach. Cleveland's depth chart lists rookies as the No. 1 backup at four positions on offense and seven positions on defense.
THE BROWNS' OFFENSE**
Cleveland is No. 15 in total offense (27th rushing, 12th passing). Gordon (80) and TE Jordan Cameron (75) have combined for 155 receptions, the second-highest figure by a pair of Browns in a season (TE Kellen Winslow had 82 and WR Braylon Edwards 80 for a combined 162 in 2007). Cameron (seven receiving TDs) is the first player in Browns history to catch a TD pass from four different players in a season (QBs Brandon Weeden, Hoyer and Jason Campbell and P Spencer Lanning). The Browns have 25 passing touchdowns, up from last season's total of 16. RB Edwin Baker has 102 rushing yards and two rushing TDs (half of Cleveland's 2013 total) since being signed off Houston's practice squad on Dec. 10. The Browns are No. 26 in third-down efficiency (34.7 percent) and No. 27 in points per game (20.1). Cleveland's 14 fourth-down conversions and 28 fourth-down attempts are franchise records.
THE BROWNS' DEFENSE**
Cleveland is No. 10 in total defense (16th rushing, 9th passing). The Browns' 39 sacks have surpassed last season's 38. Cleveland has gotten at least one sack from 16 players (tied for No. 1 in the NFL) and multiple sacks from 12 players (tied for No. 2 in the NFL). LB Barkevious Mingo is tied for No. 2 on the team and tied for second among NFL rookies with 5.5 sacks. The Browns are No. 5 in the NFL in yards allowed per play (4.90) and tied for No. 3 in yards allowed per rush (3.8). Cleveland is tied for second with 19 passes of 25-or-more yards allowed. The Browns are No. 30 in red-zone defense, allowing TDs 65.2 percent of the time. Cleveland is No. 30 in opponents' third-down efficiency (44.8 percent) and No. 23 in opponents' points per game (25.7). The Browns have allowed 142 of 386 points in fourth quarters. SS T.J. Ward (two), CB Joe Haden (one) and FS Tashaun Gipson (one) have return TDs.
THE BROWNS' SPECIAL TEAMS
K Billy Cundiff has a franchise-record 41 touchbacks on 61 kickoffs. Lanning (who holds for place kicks in addition to punting), KR Fozzy Whittaker and PR Jordan Poyer are rookies.