Browns open 28-0 lead over Steelers

Monitoring Desk

The Latest on wild-card Sunday in the NFL playoffs (all times EST):


9 p.m.

The Cleveland Browns are off to a record-setting start in Pittsburgh.

The Browns have raced to a 28-0 lead over the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The Browns’ 28 points are the most by any team in the first quarter of a playoff game since the 1970 merger.

Cleveland scored on the first offensive play of the game when safety Karl Joseph pounced on a fumble in the end zone after Maurkice Pouncey’s snap sailed over the head of Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

Jarvis Landry made it 14-0 on a 40-yard touchdown pass from Baker Mayfield and Kareem Hunt has added two scoring runs.

The Browns are attempting to win their first playoff game in more than a quarter century and their first postseason game on the road since 1969.


7:55 p.m.

Drew Brees has joined Brett Favre and Tom Brady as NFL quarterbacks to win a playoff game after age 40.

Brees led the New Orleans Saints past the Chicago Bears 21-9 Sunday in an NFC wild card game.

Jimmy Graham made a one-handed touchdown catch with no time remaining to give the Bears and quarterback Mitchell Trubisky their only touchdown of the game. They didn’t bother with the extra point.

Brees and the Saints will host Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers next Sunday in the divisional round.

Brees turns 42 on Thursday and Brady is 43. So, this will be the first NFL playoff game ever pitting two quadragenarian quarterbacks.

In the other NFC semifinal, the Los Angeles Rams visit the top-seeded Green Bay Packers on Saturday.


7:42 p.m.

Drew Brees thought he scored his first touchdown run in the playoffs but TV replays showed he didn’t get the nose of the football across the plane of the goal line before pulling it back on fourth-and-goal.

The play was ruled a touchdown with 2:19 left to put New Orleans ahead of Chicago 27-3 pending the extra point.

The play was reversed, and Chicago took over trailing 21-3.


7:25 p.m.

Careful with that language, Cordarrelle Patterson. There are kids listening on Nickelodeon.

Just before halftime, the Chicago Bears All-Pro wide receiver dropped a curse word after the official announced a penalty. The only trouble was the microphone picked it up for all to hear.

Social media had a field day with Patterson’s not-so-G-rated word, complete with memes featuring SpongeBob SquarePants characters admonishing him.

The game was being broadcast on CBS and also on Nickelodeon to attract a younger audience. The game was complete with virtual slime cannons after players scored and analogies to explain penalties.


7:18 p.m.

Alvin Kamara’s 3-yard touchdown run has given the New Orleans Saints a commanding 21-3 lead over the Chicago Bears in the fourth quarter.

Kamara’s touchdown capped a 15-play drive that ate up nearly nine minutes.

So far in the second half the Saints have had the ball for 16 minutes, 20 seconds to just four minutes, 50 seconds for the Bears.

The Saints led just 7-3 at halftime.


7:07 p.m.

The Saints have taken a 14-3 lead into the fourth quarter of their wild-card game against the Chicago Bears.

Drew Brees is trying to join Brett Favre and Tom Brady as quarterbacks to win a playoff game after turning 40.

If the Saints hold on, Brees and the Saints will host Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the divisional round next weekend.

Brees had thrown for 215 yards and two touchdowns. Michael Thomas has five catches for 73 yards so far. Mitchell Trubisky has thrown for 107 yards and no TDs for Chicago.


6:53 p.m.

The New Orleans Saints have taken a 14-3 lead over the Chicago Bears late in the third quarter on Drew Brees’ second touchdown pass of the game.

Brees hit running back Latavius Murray for a 6-yard TD shortly after the Bears committed a neutral zone infraction on fourth-and-3 at the Chicago 13.


6:40 p.m.

Saints defender CJ Gardner-Johnson just got Bears starting wide receiver Anthony Miller ejected from their NFC wild card game in New Orleans.

Gardner-Johnson appeared to be talking smack after a third-down incompletion and Miller shoved him.

Both players got offsetting personal fouls for unsportsmanlike and Miller got ejected.

Gardner-Johnson is a second-year player out of Florida who has developed a reputation for upsetting opponents.

The Saints lead the Bears 7-3 early in the third quarter.


6:25 p.m.

The Cleveland Browns ended a long drought by making the playoffs. They can stop a few more with a win over the rival Pittsburgh Steelers in the wild-card game Sunday night.

Making their first postseason appearance since the 2002 season, the Browns have lost 17 straight games at Heinz Field, getting their last win there in 2003 with Tim Couch at quarterback and Butch Davis as their coach.

Cleveland is seeking the first postseason win in its expansion era, which started in 1999, and first playoff win since the 1994 season.

The Browns are also trying to end an eight-game road playoff losing streak. They haven’t won outside Cleveland in the playoffs since 1969.

Of course, the Browns will try to do it without first-year coach Kevin Stefanski, who tested positive for COVID-19 earlier this week and is prohibited from participating. He’ll watch the game from his basement home in Rocky River, Ohio.

The Browns weren’t able to practice until Friday because of COVID-19 issues.


6:15 p.m.

The Chicago Bears trail the New Orleans Saints 7-3 at halftime in their NFC wild card game.

This the the lowest scoring first half in the playoffs since Super Bowl 53 on on Feb. 3, 2019, when the New England Patriots led the Los Angeles Rams 3-0 on their way to a 13-3 win.

Saints running back Alvin Kamara has 39 yards rushing on eight carries in his return from the COVID-19 list. Kamara ran for an NFL record-tying six touchdowns in his last game on Christmas Day against the Vikings.

The Bears made the playoffs despite an 8-8 record that included a six-game losing streak. The Saints went 12-4 and earned the No. 2 seed in the NFC bracket behind the Green Bay Packers.


5:45 p.m.

The Chicago Bears are on the board at New Orleans. They pulled to 7-3 midway through the second quarter on a 36-yard field goal by Cairo Santos.

That followed a takeaway by nose tackle John Jenkins of the Saints’ Taysom Hill who was in at quarterback for Drew Brees on the play.


5:35 p.m.

Will Lutz has missed a 50-yard field goal that would have given the New Orleans Saints a 10-0 lead in the second quarter Sunday.

Lutz has missed five of his last nine field goal attempts after starting out the season 19-for-20.

Earlier, the Bears blew a golden chance to tie it at 7 when Javon Wims let Mitchell Trubisky’s long pass go right through his arms in the end zone in the first quarter after defender Marcus Williams fell face first in pursuit.


5:15 p.m.

Michael Thomas scored for New Orleans and instantly got hit with virtual slime cannons from all four corners of the end zone.

Welcome to the NFL playoffs on Nickelodeon.

The network accustomed to showing SpongeBob SquarePants made things fun and interesting for the Chicago Bears-New Orleans Saints wild-card game Sunday.

The line for the first down looks like moving slime. The players are constantly compared to SpongeBob characters. Everything is thoroughly explained to a more youthful audience.

Noah Eagle, the radio voice of the Los Angeles Clippers and son of longtime CBS play-by-play announcer Ian Eagle, called the the game along with “NFL Today” analyst Nate Burleson and Nickelodeon’s Gabrielle Nevaeh Green.

The announcers kept it entertaining by explaining things in a unique way, like how moving the ball down the field is akin to a homework assignment while the red zone was like taking a test.

One of the topics they discussed: What happens if a player needs to use the restroom in the middle of the game?


5:10 p.m.

The New Orleans Saints have taken a 7-0 lead on the Chicago Bears. Drew Bees hit Michael Thomas with an 11-yard touchdown pass with five minutes left in the first quarter in New Orleans.

That marked Thomas’ first TD since Dec. 22, 2019, at Tennessee.

Brees has thrown a touchdown pass in 17 consecutive playoff games. That’s one the third-longest streak in NFL history.

Brett holds the record with touchdown throws in 20 consecutive playoff games between 1995 and 2009. Tom Brady had a streak of 18 consecutive playoff games with a TD throw from 2001 to 2011.


4:20 p.m.

The New Orleans Saints are aiming to become the first NFC wild card home team to win this weekend when they host the Chicago Bears Sunday afternoon.

Two road teams won on Saturday with the Buccaneers winning 31-23 at Washington and the Rams winning 30-20 at Seattle.

Tampa Bay’s win was its first since Super Bowl 37 in 2003. The Rams’ win snapped Seattle’s streak of 10 consecutive home playoff victories.

The Saints are the NFC’s No. 2 seed and feature a prolific offense led by Drew Brees and Alvin Kamara.

The Bears finished 8-8 but reached the playoffs for the second time in Matt Nagy’s three seasons as Chicago’s coach.


4 p.m.

Lamar Jackson has secured his elusive first playoff victory.

Jackson led the Baltimore Ravens past the Tennessee Titans 20-13 in an AFC wild card game Sunday.

Jackson ran for 16 times for 136 yards and scored on a 48-yard scamper that was part of a 20-3 run by Baltimore after falling behind 10-0 early on. Jackson also completed 17 of 24 passes for 179 yards.

The Ravens limited the league’s leading rusher Derrick Henry to just 40 yards on 18 carries. Henry posted the fifth-highest rushing total in the regular season with 2,027 yards and had 17 TD runs.

Ravens cornerback Marcus Peters intercepted Ryan Tannehill’s pass to Kalif Raymond with 1:50 remaining, and the Ravens chewed up the rest of the clock.

After Peters’ interception several Ravens stomped on the Titans’ midfield logo, drawing a 15-yard taunting penalty. The Titans had stomped on Baltimore’s logo back in Week 11.


3:33 p.m.

Justin Tucker has atoned for his missed 52-yard field goal by nailing a 51-yarder with 4:19 remaining that gave Baltimore a 20-13 lead over the Tennessee Titans.

And Lamar Jackson has eclipsed the 100-yard mark in a second straight playoff game against Tennessee.

The Baltimore quarterback has 104 yards rushing on 14 carries.

Jackson rushed for 143 yards last season in a playoff loss against Tennessee.

He and Colin Kaepernick are the lone quarterbacks to rush for 100 or more yards in multiple postseason games.

Jackson has outgained Derrick Henry, who has just 37 yards after leading the NFL in rushing during the regular season.


3:25 p.m.

Baltimore kicker Justin Tucker missed a 52-yard goal wide right in the fourth quarter against Tennessee, only the second playoff miss of his career.

He’s now 12 of 14 in his postseason career.

Tucker has a 90.7% success rate on field goals, the best percentage in NFL history. He was 26 for 29 this season.

Tucker had converted 48 consecutive field goal attempts in the fourth quarter or overtime in the regular and postseason before missing with 12 minutes left in the game.


3:10 p.m.

The Tennessee Titans have ended the Baltimore Ravens’ run of 17 unanswered points with a short field goal after stalling at the Baltimore 4.

Stephen Gostkowski’s 25-yard field goal on the first play of the fourth quarter pulled the Titans to 17-13.

After that, Justin Tucker was wide right on a 52-yard field goal attempt.

After going up 10-0, the Titans ran seven plays for minus-7 yards in the second and third quarters as the Ravens got a field goal and two touchdown runs to take a 17-10 lead.

The Ravens have held NFL rushing leader Derrick Henry to 29 yards on 14 carries.


2:50 p.m.

The Baltimore Ravens have taken their first lead at Tennessee.

Rookie running back J.K. Dobbins broke a 10-10 halftime tie with a 4-yard touchdown run that capped Baltimore’s 77-yard drive to open the second half.

Justin Tucker’s extra point made it 17-10.

The Ravens have scored 17 straight points after falling behind 10-0 in the first half.

The Ravens are the only NFL team in the last four seasons not to win a game after trailing by double digits.


2:30 p.m.

Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens have shaken off their sluggish start in their AFC wild card game at Tennessee to tie the game at 10-all at halftime.

The Ravens scored 10 straight points after falling behind 10-0 in the first quarter.

The Titans have matched their season high with four sacks of Jackson. But Jackson broke loose on third-and-9 and scampered 48 yards for the tying touchdown.

That was the longest touchdown run by a quarterback in the playoffs since Colin Kaepernick went 56 yards for the 49ers against the Packers on Jan. 12, 2013.

NFL rushing leader Derrick Henry has just 18 yards on 10 carries so far for the Titans. Henry rushed for 2,027 rushing yards this season, the fifth-most in NFL history.


2:10 p.m.

The Baltimore Ravens have erased an early 10-0 deficit in their AFC wild card game at Tennessee.

Lamar Jackson raced for a 48-yard touchdown on third-and-9 to tie the game after Justin Tucker got the Ravens on the board with a 33-yard field goal.

Jackson is the first quarterback in NFL history with multiple 1,000-yard rushing season.

He had 1,005 yards rushing this season after rushing for 1,206 yards in 2019.

And he’s led all NFL players in yards-per-rush in each of the last two seasons. That number was 6.9 yards in 2019 and 6.3 yards in 2020.


1:40 p.m.

Titans cornerback Malcolm Butler intercepted a Lamar Jackson pass on on a ball that looked like it intended for the Titans cornerback instead of Ravens receiver Miles Boykin.

Butler’s takeaway led to a 45-yard field goal by Stephen Gostkowski, who was activated off the reserve/covid-19 list earlier this week. That gave Tennessee a 10-0 lead with 1:38 left in the first quarter of their AFC wild card game.

This was Butler’s first playoff interception since Super Bowl 49 when he picked off Russell Wilson’s pass at the goal line in the closing seconds to preserve New England’s 28-24 win over the Seahawks.

Tennessee forced three turnovers in beating Baltimore in the divisional round a year ago. The Titans led the NFL with a plus-11 in turnover margin with Butler tied for the team-lead with four interceptions during the regular season.


1:30 p.m.

The Titans have taken the lead in their AFC wild-card game with the Baltimore Ravens.

Both teams opened with a three-and-out. Then the Titans went on a 10-play, 70-yard drive with Ryan Tannehill throwing a 10-yard touchdown pass to A.J. Brown with 5:39 left in the first quarter.

Malcolm Butler intercepted Lamar Jackson on the Ravens’ ensuing possession.

Tannehill threw for a career-high 33 touchdowns this season. He has started this game completing 6 of 7 for 70 yards, and Brown has been his best target with 52 yards receiving on three catches.

The Ravens have been putting five and six defenders on the line to slow down NFL rushing leader Derrick Henry. He has five carries for just seven yards to open this game.

The road team has won each of the first four playoff games between these teams. Tennessee won in Baltimore last year in the divisional round, upsetting the then-No. 1 seeded Ravens.


1:10 p.m.

The Cleveland Browns have no new positive COVID-19 tests Sunday after nearly a week of issues leading into their first playoff game in almost two decades.

The Browns will be without coach Kevin Stefanski for Sunday night’s wild-card game in Pittsburgh. He tested positive with the virus Tuesday along with Pro Bowl guard Joel Bitonio, who will also miss the game.

Top cornerback Denzel Ward won’t play either after testing positive. The Browns did get safety Ronnie Harrison, tight end Harrison Bryant and linebacker Malcolm Smith back to face the Steelers.

It’s not yet known if they’ll have All-Pro right tackle Jack Conklin. He was listed as questionable with an “illness” and traveled separately to Pittsburgh.

In addition to Stefanski, the Browns are also without several assistants, including offensive line coach Bill Callahan.

Cleveland is making its first playoff appearance since the 2002 season. The Browns are facing two other major droughts: They’ve lost 17 straight at Heinz Field and haven’t won a road playoff game since 1969.


12:50 p.m.

The Ravens-Titans playoff game features two of the NFL’s best ground games.

The Titans are led by running back Derrick Henry, who’s 2,027 rushing yards this season was the fifth-most in NFL history. Henry led the league with 17 touchdown runs.

Henry ran for 195 yards in the Titans’ 28-12 win over Baltimore in last year’s playoffs. That was his third career playoff game with 150 or more rushing yards, one game shy of Hall of Famer Terrell Davis’ record.

The Ravens rushed for 404 yards at Cincinnati last weekend, the fourth-highest single-game total since 1950.

Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson this season became the first quarterback in NFL history with at least 1,000 rushing yards in multiple seasons.

And Baltimore rookie running back J.K. Dobbins rushed for 805 yards and nine touchdowns in 2020. He’s had a TD run in each of his last six games.


12:20 p.m.

It’s Day 2 of the NFL’s wild card weekend beginning with a rematch from last year when the Ravens visit the Titans

That’s followed up by the Bears visiting the Saints and the night game pits the Cleveland Browns at Pittsburgh. The Browns are making their first playoff appearance since 2002.

To advance, the Browns will have to end a 17-game losing streak at Pittsburgh.

In Saturday’s wild card games, the Bills edged the Colts 27-24, the Rams won at Seattle 30-20 and Tampa Bay won at Washington 31-23.

That was the Buccaneers’ first playoff victory since they beat Oakland in Super Bowl 37 on Jan. 26, 2003.

Courtesy: AP News