CLEVELAND — Nick Chubb ran for 113 yards and a touchdown as the Cleveland Browns took control in the second half to beat the rival Pittsburgh Steelers 29-17 on Thursday at FirstEnergy Stadium.
Cleveland Browns wide receiver Amari Cooper dropped an onside kick that allowed the New York Jets to pull off a stunning comeback on Sunday. On Thursday night against the Steelers, Cooper made up for that mistake.
He finished with seven receptions for 101 yards and a touchdown, leading the Browns to victory.
“We’ve got to own it, learn from it and clean it up,” Cooper said of the slump against the Jets this week. Cooper led Cleveland’s resurgent performance as the Browns (2-1) moved into first place in the AFC North standings.
Main play: On third-and-1 to start the fourth quarter, quarterback Jacoby Brissett faked a handoff to Chubb. Cooper, meanwhile, eluded Steelers cornerback Cameron Sutton before hauling in a 32-yard reception to the Pittsburgh 39-yard line. Cleveland punted the ball into the end zone eight plays later and was up by two scores. With the key play-action reception, Cooper became the first Browns player in nine years to finish with over 100 yards receiving and a receiving touchdown in back-to-back games.
QB Breakdown: Brissett delivered another solid performance in his third start for the Browns. He threw a pair of touchdowns in the first half, first on a slant to Cooper and another in the back of the end zone to tight end David Njoku. Brissett finished the game 21-for-31 passing for 220 yards with the Browns offense.
Problematic trend: The Browns lost starting linebackers to injury, including Anthony Walker, who was carted off the field with a left knee injury. Jeremiah Owusu-Koramova also left the game with a quad injury. Cleveland is already missing defensive end JTVeon Clowney, who suffered an ankle injury last weekend. , Jack Trotter
An underrated statistic to know: Cooper now has a TD in consecutive games. No Browns wide receiver had a touchdown in consecutive games last season.
Next game: at Falcons (1 p.m. ET, Oct. 2)
He preached an aggressive approach to the Steelers offense after two underperforming weeks. For one half, they offered.
But a disappointing second half coupled with a defense that couldn’t sustain drives and couldn’t generate a pass rush or run defense, the Steelers (1-2) lost to the Browns.
Problematic trend: For the second week in a row, the Steelers struggled to get an effective pass rush without DJ Watt. Larry Ogunjobi and Alex Highsmith got a scrimmage early, but that was all until late in the fourth quarter. Brissett was only pressured on three of his 23 dropbacks in the first half as the pass rush fumbled. In the back end, the Steelers secondary had a series of breakdowns and miscommunications that led to big plays and touchdowns. Terrell Edmonds was misplaced on the Browns’ first score, an 11-yard pass from Brissett to Cooper that gave the receiver more room. Cooper feasted in the secondary, racking up 101 yards on seven catches. A ineffective pass rush also contributed to the Browns’ ability to run the ball freely, and Chubb (23 carries, 113 yards) and Kareem Hunt (12 carries, 47 yards) carved up the Steelers defense.
Biggest hole in the game plan: At least for all the offensive adjustments made in the first half — the Steelers still haven’t targeted the middle of the field. Steelers tight end Pat Freiermuth didn’t hit a target until midway through the fourth quarter. The pass traveled high and Mitch Trubisky threw it into triple coverage. His first catch came with 2:56 left in the fourth quarter. He followed that up with another 15 yards up the middle on the next play. But trailing by two scores, those completions were too late to have much of an impact on the game.
QB Breakdown: Trubisky did what he was supposed to do in the days leading up to the meeting with the Browns: He was very aggressive and he targeted George Pickens — at least in the first half. Trubisky aired the ball often in the first half, connecting with Pickens for a 36-yard completion — courtesy of the wide receiver’s impressive one-handed snag — for the Steelers’ longest pass play of the season. Trubisky also showed off his drive, completing 7 of 8 passes from outside the pocket for 108 yards in the first half — the most by any Steelers quarterback since 2015. But Trubisky and the offense bounced back. For an anemic brand of football in the second half. After completing 9 of 13 passes for 109 yards in the first half, Trubisky was 6 of 12 for 41 yards until the final drive of the fourth quarter, when he targeted the middle of the field and moved the ball into range for a field goal. . — Brooke Pryor
George Pickens somehow gets a hand under this ball.
An underrated statistic to know: Three different Steelers have now made one-handed catches this season (Pickens, Deonte Johnson and Chase Claypool). No other team has ever had more one-handed receptions.
Next game: vs. Jets (1 p.m. ET, Oct. 2)