It was a familiar sight for the Pittsburgh Steelers in the second half Thursday night in Cleveland, one that they had just endured four days earlier against the New England Patriots at Acrisure Stadium.
Cleveland ran downhill over and over again, punishing the Steelers’ front seven, milking the clock and essentially salting the game away with a powerful rushing attack featuring star running back Nick Chubb and dependable backup Kareem Hunt. It was a carbon copy of what the Patriots did in Week 2 in the second half with Damien Harris and Rhamondre Stevenson, getting after a tired, short-handed Steelers’ front seven to put the game away.
Those two performances back to back from the Steelers run defense has raised some concerns outside of the facility for those that cover the Steelers and root for them, but inside the facility head coach Mike Tomlin isn’t as concerned, stating to reporters Tuesday during his weekly media session that sometimes the professionals they’re going against need credit too.
“Sometimes you just gotta give Cleveland credit, you know? You gotta give Nick Chubb credit,” Tomlin said to reporters Tuesday when asked about concerns regarding the run defense, according to video via the Steelers’ official YouTube page. “I’m not ready to to assess it in that way. Do we need to play better? Certainly. But I’m not ready to assess it in that way.
“Sometimes I just tend to give credit to the professionals that we compete against because that’s appropriate as well.”
Those reading Tomlin’s words there certainly don’t want to hear that, but sometimes that has to be the case.
In the first half the Steelers did a relatively good job holding the Browns’ rushing attack in check, outside of Chubb’s 36-yard run to set up the Amari Cooper touchdown. Outside of that long run though the Steelers front seven was getting after it against the run, minimizing Chubb and Hunt, like Tomlin stated they needed to earlier in the week.
The seconds half was a different story though as the defense was on the field for long stretches after three straight three and outs from the Steelers offense, putting the Steelers’ defense in a real bind from a stamina standpoint. Sometimes, in instances like that, the opponent deserves credit, rather than the critique of themselves, specifically the defense.
The offense is a different story, but it wasn’t like the Steelers defense was getting gashed on the ground like they were in 2021.