For a franchise with a history of heartbreak and disappointment, it was shocking even for the Browns to give up a 13-point lead against the New York Jets — and their backup quarterback — in the closing minutes to lose.
On Thursday night, however, they did something to rectify those mistakes by defeating their bitter AFC North Division rivals, the Pittsburgh Steelers, 29-17.
Cleveland quarterback Jacoby Brissett threw for 220 yards and two touchdowns — one for Amari Cooper and one for David Njoku — while Nick Chubb continued his excellent season, rushing for 113 yards and a touchdown.
Despite being behind at halftime, a combination of the Browns’ rolling offense and defense pinning down the Steelers produced a key win for Cleveland that exorcised some of Sunday’s demons.
It was Brissett’s burgeoning connection with Cooper – traded from the Dallas Cowboys during the offseason – that was a key driving force behind Thursday’s win.
After breaking for 101 yards on his home debut last week, Cooper finished with 101 yards again against Pittsburgh, including an 11-yard touchdown in the first quarter.
After the game, Brissett expressed his appreciation for taking on the four-time Pro Bowler.
“I mean he was incredible. He’s one of the smartest, hardest working players I’ve ever worked with, comes here every week, works hard every day, puts in the work and is just a pleasure to play with. I know he just wants to keep doing it.”
Call for the beginner
Pittsburgh’s offense continued its struggles early in the season to consistently move the ball behind center with Mitch Trubisky on Thursday.
Though there was an air of explosiveness — a stunning catch from rookie George Pickens and Najee Harris looking dynamic — it was another limited performance from Trubisky and the offense.
However, the Steelers drafted quarterback Kenny Pickett with the 20th pick of this year’s draft. Given the offensive struggles the team has shown so far this year, calls have grown for the former Pittsburgh Panthers star to get his chance in the lineup. Pittsburgh supporters could be heard chanting Pickett’s name during last week’s loss to the New England Patriots.
When asked after the loss to the Browns if he was considering giving Pickett a chance, Tomlin stood adamantly behind Trubisky.
“So the answer to that question is definitely no.”
The result means the Steelers are down 1-2 this year as they host the Jets in Week 4. The Browns are up 2-1 – and at the top of the AFC North – and traveling to play the Atlanta Falcons next week.