Lost in the shuffle of Thursday night’s chaos was a stellar defensive performance by the Cleveland Browns, who held the Pittsburgh Steelers to just one touchdown that was heavily assisted by penalties.
The Browns also forced a season-high four interceptions in the 21-7 victory — a pair from Joe Schobert, and one each from Juston Burris and veteran Morgan Burnett.
Burnett’s presence has been important in a Browns defensive backfield, bringing some stability to a unit that has been ravaged by injury this season. However, that appears to be coming to an end.
Burnett reportedly suffered a torn Achilles against the Steelers, ending his season according to NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport. He will have an MRI on Friday to confirm the diagnosis.
Burnett, a 10-year pro, had compiled 41 tackles, two sacks, two passes defended and an interception this season.
Morgan Burnet Injury Underscores Need for Browns
Cleveland will likely have to make a move this week to add some depth to the safety position.
Damarious Randall, Juston Burris and rookie Sheldrick Redwine are the only other players listed on the Browns depth chart at safety.
Redwine and Burris were forced into major action after Randall was ejected for a helmet-to-helmet hit in the second half. It’s unlikely Randall misses any time, and will likely just get a hefty fine.
Safety Jermaine Whitehead had been a major contributor for the Browns on defense, but was cut earlier this month after a social media tirade where he threatened fans and media members in NSFW fashion.
The Brown will likely also be without another key defender in Myles Garrett, who will miss at least some time after his helmet-swinging attack on Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph.
As head coach Freddie Kitchens pointed out in his postgame press conference, the good things the Browns did — most notably the dominant defensive performance — will be lost in the shuffle due to the ugliness at the end of the game between Myles Garrett and Mason Rudolph.
“You can’t lose sight of the good things that we did – the turnovers the defense had, the offensive production early in the game, the ability to run the ball when we needed to run the ball at the end of the game,” Kitchens said. “There are a lot of good things from the game that are going to get overshadowed by this, and a lot people are not going to get the recognition because of this. Our tight end (Stephen Carlson) made an unbelievable catch in the end zone. You won’t even hear about it now because of all of this.”
Eric Berry a Free Agent Option for Browns
At this point in the year, it’s going to be hard to fill the hole left by Burnett. But a name still on the market that may be able to have an impact is former All-Pro Eric Berry.
Berry has played just three games since the 2016 season — his last All-Pro campaign. Berry suffered a ruptured Achilles in 2017 and was having problems in his right heel last year.
Berry does have a link to the Browns in general manger John Dorsey, who was with the Chiefs while Berry was there and has shown a penchant for reuniting with his former players.