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 ways towards correcting those mistakes, beating their bitter AFC North division rivals, 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 excellent season, running for 113 yards and a touchdown.
Despite trailing at halftime, a combination of the Browns offense rolling and the defense putting the clamps on the Steelers wrapped up an important victory for Cleveland, exorcising some of Sunday’s demons.
It was Brissett’s burgeoning connection with Cooper — who was traded from the Dallas Cowboys in the offseason — which was a key driving force behind Thursday’s victory.
Having broken out in his home debut last week with 101 yards, Cooper again finished with 101 yards against Pittsburgh, including an 11-yard touchdown in the first quarter.
After the game, Brissett expressed his appreciation for the acquisition of the four-time Pro Bowler.
“I’m glad they [management] did it,” Brissett told NFL Network Insider Tom Pelissero.
“I mean he’s been unbelievable. He’s one of the smartest, hardest-working players I’ve ever worked with, comes out here every week, every day working hard, putting in the work and it’s just a pleasure to play with him. I know that he wants to just continue to keep this going.”
Calling for the rookie
The Pittsburgh offense continued its early season struggles of being able to move the ball consistently with Mitch Trubisky behind center on Thursday.
Although there were glimpses of explosiveness — a stunning catch from rookie George Pickens and Najee Harris looking dynamic — it was another limited display from Trubisky and the offense.
Trubisky, the former No. 2 overall pick who arrived in the offseason from the Buffalo Bills, was named the starter this season by head coach Mike Tomlin.
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 from fans have gotten louder for the former Pittsburgh Panthers star to get his opportunity in the lineup. During last week’s loss to the New England Patriots, the Pittsburgh faithful could be heard chanting Pickett’s name.
After the defeat to the Browns, when asked about whether he was considering giving Pickett an opportunity, Tomlin was adamant in sticking behind Trubisky.
“I’m not in that mindset,” Tomlin told the media. “I’m interested in reviewing his tape and looking at the totality of it and figuring how we collectively get better.
“So, the answer to that question is definitively no.”
The result means the Steelers slip to 1-2 on the year as they are set to host the Jets in Week 4. The Browns move to 2-1 — and atop of the AFC North — and travel to play the Atlanta Falcons next week.