Coming into Sunday’s matchup against the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium, the Pittsburgh Steelers’ defense was focused on stopping the Browns’ vaunted rushing attack.
Though Cleveland had a couple of long runs Sunday against the Steelers’ defense, Pittsburgh’s defensive unit held down the fort on Sunday overall, keeping the Browns’ rushing attack bottled up, earning praise from Steelers’ head coach Mike Tomlin following the 15-10 win, in which the Browns’ running back tandem of Nick Chubb and D’Earnest Johnson rushed for just 82 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries.
Following the win, Tomlin praised the Steelers’ collective defensive unit for its ability to stop the run on Sunday, taking away the Browns’ strength and identity offensively.
“Man. You know, not only those guys, but just it’s a collective effort,” Tomlin said following the game, according to the Steelers’ YouTube page. “Um, and that’s an awesome run team and they really challenge you. And largely I thought we stood up; the only time we didn’t, and this is, you know, schematics when we were trying to catch them playing pass. And I was putting the defense in less than ideal circumstances. But when I put them in run stop and structure, they stopped the run all day. And so they deserve credit for that.”
Against the Steelers’ front seven, Chubb and Johnson recorded just four runs of 10 yards or longer, with one of Chubb’s runs going for a game-high 21 yards. Those four runs went for 14, 12, 21 and 11 yards, meaning that 58 of Cleveland’s 82 yards from the tandem came on four of 20 runs, matching what Tomlin talked about after the game.
Throughout Sunday’s battle guys like Cameron Heyward, Chris Wormley, Isaiah Buggs, Henry Mondeaux, Devin Bush, Joe Schobert and Robert Spillane were monumental against the run, getting penetration, staying gap-sound throughout the game, and tackling well when they got to the football.
In the end, that proved to be a winning formula and a great sign for the Steelers’ defense moving forward, especially after the debacle that was the run defense in the second half in Week 6 on Sunday Night Football against the Seattle Seahawks.