CLEVELAND — Nick Chubb ran for 113 yards and a touchdown as the Cleveland Browns took control in the second half, beating the rival Pittsburgh Steelers 29-17 on Thursday at FirstEnergy Stadium.
Cleveland Browns wide receiver Amari Cooper dropped a fumble that allowed the New York Jets to pull off a stunning comeback on Sunday. On Thursday night against the Steelers, Cooper more than atoned for that mistake.
He had seven receptions for 101 yards and a touchdown to lead the Browns to victory.
“We’ve got to own it, learn from it and flush it,” Cooper said of the collapse against the Jets this week. Cooper led Cleveland’s rebounding performance as the Browns (2-1) moved into first place in the AFC North.
Central Game: On third-and-1 early in the fourth quarter, quarterback Jacoby Brissett faked a handoff to Chubb. Meanwhile, Cooper hit Steelers cornerback Cameron Sutton before a 32-yard reception at Pittsburgh’s 39-yard line. Cleveland scored eight plays later to go up by two scores. Cooper became the first Browns player in nine years to gain more than 100 yards and a touchdown in back-to-back games.
QB breakdown: Brissett had another solid performance in his third start for the Browns. He threw a pair of touchdowns in the first half, the first on a slant to Cooper, the second to tight end David Njoku in the back of the end zone. Brissett finished the game 21-of-31 passing for 220 yards, pacing the Browns offense.
An alarming trend: The Browns lost both starters to injury, including Anthony Walker, who was carted off the field with a left knee injury. Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah also left the game with a quad injury. Cleveland was already missing defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, who injured his ankle last weekend. — Jake Trotter
Underrated stats to know: Cooper now has a receiving TD in consecutive games. No Browns wide receiver had a receiving touchdown in consecutive games last season.
Next game: at Falcons (1 p.m. ET, Oct. 2)
The Steelers preached an aggressive approach to the offense after two weeks of lackluster performances. During the half they delivered.
But a disappointing second half from an offense that couldn’t hold together, combined with a defense that couldn’t pass the pass or run the defense, buried the Steelers (1-2) in a loss to the Browns.
An alarming trend: For the second week in a row, the Steelers struggled with an effective pass rush in the absence of TJ Watt. Larry Ogunjobi and Alex Highsmith had early sacks, but that was the only one until late in the fourth quarter. While the passing game was shaky, Brissett was pressured for just three of his 23 rebounds in the first half. And on the back end, the Steelers’ secondary had a series of breakdowns and miscommunications that led to big plays and touchdowns. Terrell Edmunds was in the wrong position for the Browns’ first score, an 11-yard pass from Brissett to Cooper, giving the receiver too much room. Cooper sweetened the secondary, racking up 101 yards on seven catches. An ineffective pass rush also contributed to the Browns’ ability to run the ball freely, and the Steelers’ defense was led by Chubb (23 carries, 113 yards) and Kareem Hunt (12 carries, 47 yards).
The biggest hole in the game plan: For all the offensive adjustments they made — at least in the first half — the Steelers still didn’t target the middle of the field. Steelers tight end Pat Freiermuth wasn’t targeted until midway through the fourth quarter. That pass went high and Mitch Trubisky threw it into triple coverage. Freiermuth’s first touchdown came with 2:56 left in the fourth quarter, an impressive 26-yard gain. He followed that up with a 15-yard run up the middle on the next play. But trailing by two points, it was too late for those finishes 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 more aggressive and targeted George Pickens — at least in the first half. Trubisky fanned the ball more often in the first half, connecting with Pickens 36 yards — thanks to an impressive one-handed catch by the wide receiver — for the Steelers’ longest passing game of the season. Trubisky also showed his mobility when he escaped pressure, completing 7 of 8 passes from outside the pocket for 108 yards in the first half, the most by a Steelers quarterback since 2015. But Trubisky and the offense bounced back. an anemic brand of football in the second half. After going 9-of-13 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 for a field goal. . — Brooke Pryor
George Pickens somehow gets his hands on that ball for an unreal one-handed grab.
Underrated stats to know: Three different Steelers have now caught one-handed catches this season (Pickens, Diontae Johnson and Chase Claypool). No other team has ever had more one-handed receptions.
Next game: vs. Jets (1 p.m. ET, Oct. 2)