The Pittsburgh Steelers and Cleveland Browns entered the Week 3 Thursday Night Football game in Ohio facing similar circumstances. Both entered the game 1-1 and coming off losses in Week 2. The Steelers losing to New England Patriots and the Browns losing to the New York Jets, both losses at their respective home venues.
For the visiting team, the story was all about the team’s offense. Mitch Trubisky faced a critical juncture of his time with the Steelers, and if the offense didn’t start to produce points it could lead to changes following the prime time game.
Cleveland won the opening coin toss, and elected to start the game with the football. After just one first down, the Browns punted the ball away to give the Steelers their first possession of the game. Mitch Trubisky and the offense matched the Browns first down before Pressley Harvin was called on to action.
When the Browns were forced to punt on their second drive, Miles Killebrew got a hand on the punt and the Steelers started with field position at midfield. The offense was able to move into Chris Boswell’s field goal range, but on a windy night the 50-yard attempt sailed wide right.
The Cleveland offense woke up with the good field position, and it was Nick Chubb who set up the offense after a 37-yard run moved the ball to the 10-yard line. Two plays later, Brissett hit Amari Cooper in the end-zone for the first touchdown of the game. After the extra point, it was 7-0 Browns with 2:54 left in the first quarter.
The Steelers needed a big play, and went uptempo on their next drive. The biggest play was a 37-yard one-handed catch by George Pickens which got the team into the red-zone.
A Jaylen Warren run moved the ball to the 4-yard line at the end of the first quarter. On the first play of the second quarter, Najee Harris ran over a Browns defender on his way to a rushing touchdown. The Boswell point-after was good, making the score 7-7.
The Browns’ offense took the field after the Steelers tied the game, and they moved the ball with ease. This time, instead of Nick Chubb, it was Kareem Hunt doing damage on the Steelers defense. When Cleveland reached the red-zone, Brissett threw his second touchdown pass, this one to David Njoku; however, the extra point was missed and the score was 13-7 with 8:58 left in the half.
No one was prepared for a shootout, but the Steelers took the football and rode Najee Harris down the field on the next drive. Throw in runs by Jaylen Warren and Diontae Johnson receptions and it set up a 1st and goal situation. On 2nd down, Mitch Trubisky kept the football and ran the ball into the end-zone for the score.
The Chris Boswell extra point was good, giving the Steelers the 14-13 lead with 3:50 left in the second quarter.
It looked as if the Browns were moving into scoring territory, but on a 4th and 2 on the outside of field goal range, a pass intended for Amari Cooper fell incomplete after video review. Trubisky moved the ball quickly into Cleveland territory, but the drive ended without points, keeping the score 14-13 at halftime.
To start the second half the Steelers moved the ball into Cleveland territory, but when it looked like they were on their way to adding to their point total, penalties resulted in another Pressley Harvin punt.
Brissett and company continued to rack up the yards against the Steelers’ defense, but, again, when the field shortened the defense stood tall. The drive resulted in a field goal, making the score 16-14 Browns, with 2:31 left in the third quarter.
After a Pittsburgh three-and-out, the Browns offense moved steadily down the field. They grinded out a 6-minute drive which resulted in a Nick Chubb touchdown to extend the Cleveland lead. Following the extra point, the score became 23-14 with 9:28 left in regulation.
The Steelers posted three straight three-and-outs after the Cleveland touchdown, and it took the urgency of the two-minute offense to get the offense moving. Big passes to Pat Freiermuth moved the ball into Cleveland territory with ease, but the drive resulted in nothing more than a Boswell 40-yard field goal. It made the score 23-17 with 1:48 remaining in regulation.
Boswell’s ensuing onside kick was unsuccessful, leaving Cleveland with the football and the Steelers only one timeout. It wasn’t enough, and after the Steelers’ lateral game ended in a fumble in the end zone, the final score read 29-17.
The loss moves the Steelers record to 1-2 on the season as they have an extended layoff before hosting the New York Jets at Acrisure Stadium in Week 4. Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they press on throughout the regular season.