The Pittsburgh Steelers The Pittsburgh Steelers

The Pittsburgh Steelers utilized a staunch defensive strategy in the first and fourth quarters to secure a 26-22 victory over the Cleveland Browns at Acrisure Stadium on Monday night, depriving the Browns of a win in Pittsburgh during the regular season since 2003.

However, the score didn’t tell the whole story for the Browns (1-1) as they faced their most significant setback in the game. During the second quarter, their star quarterback sustained a crucial knee injury and had to leave the field, resulting in a Steelers lead of 1-1.

While the Steelers’ offense couldn’t find the end zone, it didn’t stop their defense from preventing the Browns from scoring. Outside linebacker Alex Highsmith made a significant play with a nine-second score, narrowing the gap to 30 yards when Minkah Fitzpatrick flipped the script with an interception of Deshaun Watson’s pass. Then, trailing by three in the fourth quarter, Highsmith forced Watson into another big play, bringing back T.J. Watt, who returned for a game-winning 17-yard touchdown. This marked the first time the Steelers had two defensive touchdowns in a game since 2010 and the first time they recorded a touchdown return and an interception return in the same game since 2009. They racked up six sacks, nine tackles for loss, three forced fumbles, and 11 quarterback hits in the victory.

Quarterback Breakdown

Kenny Pickett, in his second start of the season, was erratic initially, but play calling and pocket decision-making gradually improved. Pickett, who completed 15 of 30 passes for 222 yards, one touchdown, and one interception, faced a challenging Browns defense that kept him out of the end zone during the first half. However, he found his rhythm midway through the second quarter when he connected with Jaylen Warren for a 71-yard score alongside the sidelines. While Pickett had promising moments, he still lacked the consistency the Steelers needed from their second-year quarterback.
Troubling Trend:
The Steelers had a tough time against the Browns in the red zone last season, and despite their offseason efforts, it’s become a recurring issue. While the Steelers ranked 28th in the NFL in red-zone touchdown efficiency in 2020, Pickett hasn’t significantly improved the situation. After scoring on a 21.4-yard touchdown pass to Pickett, there was hope that the Steelers could capitalize on the turnover. However, the lack of a consistent running game and execution issues plagued them in crucial situations.

Cleveland Browns

The Browns fell to the Steelers and lost one of their key players in the process. Fitzpatrick’s hit to Baker Mayfield’s left knee forced the star quarterback out of the game in the second quarter. The Browns’ defense kept them in the game for the most part, and Watson’s final drive ended well, despite their previous struggles. A season that once held so much promise now feels somewhat deflated for the Browns.

Summing up the Game

Gritty. Cleveland had to face some bad luck in Pittsburgh last year, but categorizing Chubb’s injury as one of the Browns’ worst moments in recent history is an understatement.

Worrisome Trend

Watson is an unproven quarterback who led the NFL in interceptions in 2020. He’s had a rocky start to his career with costly fines for mask violations, two flipped passes, resulting in a Pittsburgh touchdown, and unsuccessful attempts at high-impact plays. In the second quarter, Chubb’s knee injury is partly responsible for the Browns’ season now being on Watson’s shoulders, and there’s no sign that he’s up to the task just yet.

Breakout Performance

The Steelers' Defense Secured Victory
The Steelers’ Defense Secured Victory

Jerome Ford had more rushing yards (69) on the second-half run, eclipsing his entire career (54 yards) in a single game against a stiff defense. Chubb is irreplaceable, but Ford showed that the Browns can still move the ball, as he finished with 106 yards on 16 carries.

This game was a snapshot of the gritty AFC North. Cleveland had to face some bad luck in Pittsburgh last year, but characterizing Chubb’s injury as one of the Browns’ worst moments in recent history is an understatement. Browns’ Nick Chubb not expected to return this year after knee injury

Cleveland Browns vs. Pittsburgh Steelers: Unbelievable Drama Unfolds

  • Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield continued to shake his head in disbelief. Quarterback Deshaun Watson couldn’t find words for several seconds. And defensive end Myles Garrett confessed, “It hurts.”
  • Cleveland faced a 26-22 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers on “Monday Night Football.” However, after the game in the Browns’ locker room, the loss on the field seemed secondary to the loss of their star.
  • The challenge of running down Al Perro led to what head coach Kevin Stefanski deemed a “significant” knee injury in the second quarter, sending him out of the field. When asked if he expected Perro to be out for the rest of the season, Stefanski told reporters, “I do.”
  • Stefanski denied specifying the nature of Perro’s injury, but there is concern within the team that Perro had to deal with multiple tears in his knee according to one source. Perro was taken to a local hospital as a precaution before rejoining the team in Cleveland.
  • “It’s obviously a huge loss,” said Cooper. “He’s the engine of the team. The best player on this team… I’m devastated for Nick and this team. It’s not just a loss; it’s a blow.”
  • Chubb injured his left knee after a 5-yard run on the Steelers’ 3-yard line when Pittsburgh safety Minkah Fitzpatrick tackled him. Both teams’ players gathered around Chubb when he was down on the cart.
  • The injured left knee is the same one Chubb tore his MCL, PCL, and LCL in his back in 2015 and reconstructed.
  • “It’s tough right now,” said Watson, a longtime friend of Chubb’s. “I remember when we saw [the stadium] replayed, there were a lot of flashbacks to the [injury] I had in college.”
  • Before leaving the game, Chubb had already racked up 64 rushing yards on just 10 carries. He had rushed for over 1,000 yards in four consecutive seasons, including a career-high 1,525 yards last year.
  • According to ESPN’s Stats & Information research, Chubb is one of only five running backs in NFL history to have at least eight rushes of 40-plus yards in his first five seasons, joining Adrian Peterson, LaDainian Tomlinson, Emmitt Smith, and the great Jim Brown in that group.
  • “He’s a beast, man. He gets yards every game,” said Cleveland defensive end Jadeveon Clowney. “That piece [is] missing [now].”
  • Without Chubb, the Browns’ offense struggled for the rest of the game. In his place, D’Ernest Johnson managed only 69 rushing yards in the third quarter over three months. However, the Browns failed to score again, and Pittsburgh’s second defensive touchdown of the night sealed the score.
  • Browns All-Pro guard Joel Bitonio admitted that the loss of Chubb was felt throughout the second half.
  • “He’s a great teammate, works hard, great person,” Bitonio said. “To see him go down… it’s tough… It’s a big loss.”
  • On Monday night, the Browns attempted to start 2-0 for the first time since 1993. Instead, they will have to move forward in the league without their top running back.
  • “That’s our brother, my brother,” Garrett said. “We’ve been together for a long time. This is a setback for the whole team. We have to keep fighting.”

Sports Info: Colorado leaves the game after halftime

By Areesh

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