PITTSBURGH (AP) — The Pittsburgh Steelers knew what was coming. More particularly, they knew who was coming. And it didn’t matter.
Cleveland working again Nick Chubb went wherever he wished throughout lengthy stretches of a 29-17 victory over the Steelers on Thursday night time, nevermore so than early within the fourth quarter when the Browns put collectively an 11-play 80-yard drive that ended with Chubb’s 1-yard fourth-down dive that gave Cleveland a two-score lead.
Ten of these performs got here on the bottom, eight of them handoffs to Chubb, who completed with 113 of the 171 yards dashing the Browns piled up on the bottom in opposition to a protection that supplied little pushback with out injured All-Pro exterior linebacker T.J. Watt.
“We have to be better with the run,” defensive deal with Cam Heyward stated. “We cannot blame anyone but ourselves. Where the game was going, it came down to whose runner was going to get stopped first, and as a defense we did not take care of that.”
Four days after New England was in a position to bleed the ultimate 6:33 of a taut 17-14 win by enjoying keepaway with working again Damien Harris, Cleveland did a lot of the identical. The Browns held the ball for greater than 36 minutes, all of them with Watt watching from the sideline in sweats, his left pectoral nonetheless within the early levels of recovering from a tear suffered in Week 1 in opposition to Cincinnati that despatched him to injured reserve.
The NFL’s reigning Defensive Player of the Year labored out on the sphere earlier than the sport and can return sooner or later, although who is aware of what Pittsburgh’s season may appear to be by then. The Steelers are 0-6 with out Watt since he arrived within the first spherical of the 2017 draft.
Watt is a game-plan wrecker and a chaos agent in his prime whose presence can cowl up a number of flaws — together with in 2021 when the Steelers slipped into the playoffs regardless of having the league’s worst rush protection.
Pittsburgh’s offseason plan included hoping defensive deal with Tyson Alualu can be again at full power at age 35 after lacking most of final season with an ankle harm and banking on defensive finish Stephon Tuitt rediscovering his love for the sport after sitting out 2021 with a knee harm. Tuitt opted for retirement as a substitute.
The Steelers re-signed Montravius Adams, drafted lean defensive finish DeMarvin Leal and caught a break when Larry Ogunjobi’s free-agent take care of Chicago fell by means of, permitting them to pluck him off the open market in late June.
Pittsburgh’s most secure path to relevance in 2022 is closely reliant on a protection that may hold it in video games whereas the offense makes an attempt to determine issues out with first-year beginning quarterback Mitch Trubisky.
The protection can’t merely be OK. It must be disruptive. It may even must discover a approach to rating from time to time.
The unit managed to do each in Week 1, forcing 5 turnovers — together with Minkah Fitzpatrick’s pick-6 — and amassing seven sacks in an exhilarating and borderline weird additional time win in Cincinnati, a recreation the Steelers survived solely after the Bengals missed an additional level and a chip-shot discipline aim after Watt exited with the left facet of his chest in critical ache.
New England proved way more cautious with the ball. Cleveland, too. The Steelers have simply two sacks and one turnover of the final two weeks. They have two losses two after giving up 295 yards on the bottom within the span of simply over 100 hours.
“(The Browns) did what they wanted to,” Fitzpatrick stated. “Run the ball, do trick plays, and stuff like that. They did what they wanted to do and we could not stop it.”
If Pittsburgh desires to show issues round, it must discover a manner. Soon.
The offensive line generated a little bit push within the working recreation, with the Steelers going over 100 yards for the primary time this season. Rookie undrafted free agent Jaylen Warren appears to be like like good praise to starter Najee Harris. Warren ran for 30 yards and had 32-yard reception worn out by a penalty that had nothing to do with the execution of the play.
WHAT NEEDS HELP
While the Steelers did sack Cleveland’s Jacoby Brissett twice — two extra sacks than they’d final Sunday in opposition to the Patriots — they hit Brissett simply 4 occasions whereas he accomplished 21 of 31 for 220 yards and two touchdowns.
Rookie WR George Pickens confirmed flashes of the brilliance he displayed usually throughout coaching camp, making an unbelievable one-handed 36-yard reception within the first half that arrange a Harris landing.
S Terrell Edmunds is usually regular if not spectacular however couldn’t sustain with Browns tight finish David Njoku, who caught a game-high 9 passes, together with a 7-yard landing.
CB Ahkello Witherspoon left with an obvious hamstring harm. Otherwise the Steelers made it out of Cleveland comparatively wholesome.
9-1 — The present mixed report for Pittsburgh’s subsequent 5 opponents earlier than its bye week in early November.
Somewhat bit of additional relaxation earlier than a go to from the New York Jets on Oct. 2.
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