For a franchise with a history of heartbreak and disappointment, giving up a 13-point lead in the final few minutes against the New York Jets — and their backup quarterback — to lose was shocking even for the Browns.
However, on Thursday Night Football, they went some way toward righting those wrongs, beating their bitter AFC North division rival, the Pittsburgh Steelers, 29-17.
Cleveland quarterback Jacoby Brissett threw for 220 yards and two touchdowns — one to Amari Cooper and one to David Njoku — while Nick Chubb continued his stellar season, rushing for 113 yards and a touchdown.
Despite trailing at halftime, the combination of the Browns offense rolling and the defense clamping down on the Steelers clinched a key victory for Cleveland, exorcizing some of Sunday’s demons.
It was Brissett’s growing relationship with Cooper — who was traded to the Dallas Cowboys in the offseason — that was a key driver behind Thursday’s victory.
After breaking out with 101 yards in his home debut last week, Cooper again finished with 101 yards against Pittsburgh, including an 11-yard touchdown in the first quarter.
After the game, Brissett expressed his admiration for the four-time Pro Bowler.
“I mean he’s been unbelievable. He’s one of the smartest, hardest working players I’ve ever worked with, he comes here every week, works hard every day, puts in the work. Lives and is just a joy to play with. Know that he just wants to keep it going.”
Calling the rookie.
Pittsburgh’s offense continued its early-season struggles of being able to move the ball consistently with Mitch Trubisky behind center on Thursday.
While there were flashes of explosiveness — a spectacular catch by rookie George Pickens and Naji Harris looked dynamic — it was another limited display by Trubisky and the offense.
However, the Steelers drafted quarterback Kenny Pickett with the 20th pick of that year’s draft. Given the offensive struggles the team has shown so far this year, calls from fans for the former Pittsburgh Panthers star to get a chance in the lineup have grown. During last week’s loss to the New England Patriots, the Pittsburgh faithful could be heard chanting Pickett’s name.
After the loss to the Browns, when asked if he was considering giving Pickett a chance, Tomlin was adamant about sticking behind Trubisky.
“So, the answer to that question is absolutely no.”
The result means the Steelers will fall to 1-2 on the year as they host the Jets in Week 4. The Browns are 2-1 — and atop the AFC North — and will next travel to play the Atlanta Falcons. Saturday