Four days after their gut-wrenching loss, the Browns rebounded by defeating their longtime rivals at home on “Thursday Night Football.” Aided by Nick Chubb and a strong second half by their defense, the Browns posted a 29-17 victory to move to 2-1 on the season. Pittsburgh, fresh off its own disappointing Week 2 loss, fell to 1-2.
Trailing 14-13 at intermission, the Browns took control of the game by scoring their first two drives of the second half. The offense was fueled by Chubb, who finished the night with 113 yards on 23 carries. Cleveland also received a big night from Amari Cooper, whose 32-yard catch on a third-and-1 play set up Chubb’s 1-yard touchdown that extended the Browns’ lead to 23-14 with 9:29 left. The Browns put an exclamation point on the win with Denzel Ward’s defensive score on the game’s final play.
After slow starts on both sides of the ball, the Browns — spearheaded by a 37-yard run by Chubb — struck first on Jacoby Brissett’s 11-yard touchdown pass to Cooper, who finished the night with 101 yards on seven catches. The Steelers responded with Najee Harris’ 5-yard touchdown run to start the second quarter. A balletic one-handed catch by rookie George Pickens set up Harris’ touchdown.
Cleveland countered with David Njoku’s touchdown catch from Brissett with 8:58 left until halftime. The Steelers took their first lead moments later when Mitch Trubisky scored on a 1-yard touchdown run. Pittsburgh’s offense started the second half with another promising drive that ultimately fizzled shortly after crossing midfield. Pittsburgh, after doing little for most of the second half, was able to mount a late scoring drive that made it a six-point game with 1:46 left. A penalty on their ensuing onside kick, however, allowed the Browns to run the game clock down to nine seconds.
Heavy winds affected both kickers during the first half. Boswell missed a 53-yard attempt on Pittsburgh’s second drive. Browns rookie kicker Cade York missed a PAT but made up for it by making his 34-yard field goal attempt late in the third quarter to give Cleveland the lead for good.
Why the Steelers lost
Before heading into tonight, Trubisky did not have one game with over 200 yards passing, but just did it tonight, with a stat line of 20-for-32 for 211 yards and no touchdowns.
Trubisky has not shown enough this season, with some asking if he should be benched for rookie QB Kenny Pickett.
On offense, Diontae Johnson was the player of the night for the Steelers, with six receptions for 63 yards and a fumble recovery, but did have some key drops. The Steelers offense clearly has a lot it still needs to work on.
The defense was unable to keep up with Chubb, one of the best running backs in the NFL, who recorded another 100-yard game to his resume.
The defense missed TJ Watt and historically did not win without him. They are now 0-6 when Watt is on the sidelines.
Why the Browns won
The Browns came off a loss where all three phases of the game struggled and bounced back with a game where everyone had a helping hand in the win.
Brissett looked confident and composed and when needed was able to use his rushing abilities on short-yardage situations.
Speaking of the running game, let’s talk about Chubb. Chubb absolutely demolished the Steelers defense, putting up 23 carries for 113 yards and a touchdown. Since 2018, he has 24 100-yard games, the most in the league during that span.
I was also impressed by Cooper, who had a rhythm with Brissett and finished the game with seven catches for 101 yards and a touchdown.
What sealed the deal for the Browns was the defense keeping the Steelers off the field and forcing back-to-back three-and-outs toward the end of the game. The Steelers were never able to recover from those two stops, which brings us right to our turning point of the game.
(And the garbage time defensive touchdown didn’t hurt.)
Late in the third quarter, a 35-yard pass from Trubisky to Jaylen Warren was called back due to a penalty on Chukwuma Okorafor. That drive led to a Steelers punt not long after and the Browns responded by scoring a field goal on their next drive.
With the ball back, the Steelers were again unable to do anything with it, going three-and-out.
The Browns responded once again, this time using 6:35 to go 11 plays for 80 yards and scoring a touchdown to make it 23-14. On the scoring drive, multiple players made an impact and the Browns looked like they had complete control of the game and Brissett looked like he had complete control of his offense.
Chubb, who passed over 100 yards on the ground on this drive, had his fair share of rushes, including one for 16 yards. Cooper came up big in the air with a 32-yard pass to put them in Steelers territory. Chubb was the one to punch it in for a yard on fourth-and-1.
To make matters worse for the Steelers, they responded with another three-and-out, making it two in a row.
Play of the game
The Steelers did not get the win, but they did get the next best thing, a feature in our “Play of the Game” segment.
Wide receiver George Pickens proved why he was the talk of the Steelers training camp with a single catch. In the first quarter,
Pickens’ catch came off a second-and-3 play, with Trubisky tossing one to the right sideline. The 36-yard catch put the Steelers in the red zone and set up a touchdown from Najee Harris.
The Browns will head to Atlanta to face the Falcons next week, who are 0-2 as we enter Week 3. The Falcons’ two losses have both been close, losing 27-26 to the Saints and 31-27 to the defending Super Bowl champion Rams.
The Steelers will host the Jets in Week 4. The Jets offense has been led by quarterback Joe Flacco so far, with Zach Wilson still on the sidelines with a bone bruise and meniscus tear. Wilson was expected to miss two-to-four weeks and will not return for Week 3. Through two weeks, Flacco is third in passing yards with 616, behind Dolphins’ Tua Tagovailoa (739) and Commanders’ Carson Wentz (650).