Steelers Vs. Browns Week 3 Recap: With PFF Total Snaps & Grades

Unfortunately, it was a tale of two halves for the Pittsburgh Steelers Thursday night, faring well to start the game and going into halftime with a one-point lead. Pittsburgh outgained Cleveland in the run game 88 to 79 in the first half, but the Browns ultimately won the war with 171 yards on the ground. Pairing this with the Steelers offense particularly struggling on third down (1/9), allowed Cleveland to control time of possession, especially in the second half which wore down the Pittsburgh defense in this painful 17-29 loss. In this article I will provide data from Pro Football Focus and takeaways from watching the film.

Let’s start with the offense:

PFF’s highest graded player was quarterback Mitch Trubisky (80.3), and while I do agree he was far from the biggest problem on offense, felt the grade was a bit strong. I do agree with the strong grades from the offensive line, with center Mason Cole getting the highest 79.3 grade, followed by guard James Daniels (70.5) having the strongest game in my opinion along with the rest of the starters toward the top right of the graph. The remaining grades above 70 include tight end Pat Freiermuth (78.4) with some good receptions late but an otherwise quiet game, running back Jaylen Warren (78) with strong rushes but should be dinged more for his fumble though Pittsburgh recovered, and wide receiver Diontae Johnson (70.1). The only player with a below 50 grade was tight end Connor Heyward (34.3), way below and all by his lonesome on the bottom left of the graph and especially struggling as a run blocker.

Pittsburgh’s offense came on for the first time with 13:00 on the clock, starting with a play action rollout from quarterback Mitch Trubisky, going through his progressions well after short routes were covered well, finding wide receiver Diontae Johnson along the sideline for a nice gain of 13 to get things going. The following first down was running back Najee Harris’ first opportunity on the ground, but tight end Pat Freiermuth was pushed back off the line along with wide receiver Chase Claypool unable to land his block and allowing the tackle on the two-yard gain. On second and eight, Harris got another carry, this time for a churning gain three yards due to center Mason Cole getting beat quickly and falling off his block to the ground allowing the tackle. Third and five now, and good pass protection including picking up a twist inside from Browns edge rusher Myles Garrett by Cole and guard Kevin Dotson, with Trubisky taking a refreshing deep shot early, but slightly underthrown to Johnson allowing the pass deflection and incomplete. Short drives for both squads on offense to start the game.

The offense returned with 8:37 on the clock with good field position off the short punt and the game still scoreless. They started with a run and good block overall (sans tight end Connor Heyward’s pulling block whiff ending on the ground), especially tight end Zach Gentry on Garrett, with tackle Dan Moore getting to the second level and a good punch but the defensive back had a chance on Harris, who eluded along with a stiff-arm and churn for a nice gain of ten yards. Back to Harris on the ground on the following first down, providing a good spin move avoiding the tackle attempt from the defensive back, behind mostly good blocking again, but Gentry getting beat around the edge this time facing Garrett again, allowing the tackle on the four-yard gain. On second and six, Trubisky got the quick screen to wide receiver George Pickens, and though it went for a loss of two yards against tight cushion, refreshing to see him get the ball early. Third and eight now, and curious formation here from 11-personnel, with Harris lined up at tight end signaling a likely target in my opinion, and expectedly got the pass short of the sticks on the out route and was only able to gain four yards. Disappointing play call, no third down conversions yet, and unfortunately Boswell was unable to connect on the field goal. Big missed scoring opportunity.

With 2:54 left in the first quarter now down by seven, Cole got pushed back taking on two defenders, and tackle Chukwuma Okorafor got beat around the edge allowing pressure on Trubisky’s throw to running back Jaylen Warren on the screen, with guard James Daniels out in front to get just enough of the defender to aid a cutback on the gain of three yards. On second and seven, Trubisky threw on the move to the left to Johnson on the stop route short of the sticks, refreshingly getting good separation and YAC (which has lacked so far in 2022) for 11 yards.

Pittsburgh went hurry up on the following first down, a run to Warren with good blocks from Cole, Dotson, and a nice seal by Moore (on Garrett) for a solid gain of seven yards. On second and three, Moore allowed quick pressure by Garrett, forcing Trubisky to come off his first read (Johnson) and leave the pocket, throwing a great back shoulder deep pass on the run away from the cornerback, giving Pickens a chance to make a play, which he does in spectacular fashion, adjusting to the ball falling backward for a refreshing highlight reel one hand catch and explosive gain 36 yards! Amazing!

This set up the following first down in the red zone, going back to Warren on the ground, showing great fight and effort to gain six yards despite a lack of running room. Warren provided another good gain on the ground on the second straight play to end the first quarter, with the following reverse action to Pickens sucking the defenders in and allowing running room around the edge on another good gain of seven yards.

To begin the second quarter, great pre snap action going from a jumbo formation to 2-1 personnel from shotgun look, confusing the defense and the linebackers still shifting on the snap. This aided the o-line in their good collective run blocks, especially Moore sealing Garrett along with Dotson staying on his man just long enough for the crease for Harris to stiff arm him along with another defender, as well as muscle through another for the five-yard touchdown! Very encouraging first half drive including an explosive catch and run successes including a touchdown. Steelers tie the game at seven.

The offense returned with 8:58 left in the second quarter, with Trubisky moving right on the snap and finding Johnson on his release to the sideline for an eight-yard gain on first down. On second and two, despite Heyward not connecting on his pulling block, Harris was able to make a good cut for the positive gain of three yards, and noted good overall o-line blocking, especially Dotson and Daniels. The following first down was a pass, and fantastic pass block from Harris to upend the blitzing linebacker through the air and to the ground, but Okorafor got beat allowing the rusher to get to Trubisky, but was able to elude, scramble, and good read to find Johnson downfield for the 16-yard gain.

The following first down had good run blocks overall, especially Dotson and Daniels creating a crease and Cole providing on Harris’ run for four yards, with Okorafor unable to connect on his second level block which allowed the tackle. On second and six, Warren got the carry around the right side with Freiermuth providing a good block out in front along with Johnson, lowering his shoulder in typical fashion but the safety forcing the fumble and fortunately Johnson is there to recover. On cue, Coach Mike Tomlin puts Harris back in after the turnover-worthy play, only able to gain one yard despite good blocks including an impressive pancake from Daniels, with the safety inching up to the line late to fill the hole and purse Harris for the tackle. On second and nine, Claypool got the jet sweep with a nice run behind Harris and Pickens out in front clearing space as blockers on the gain of 11.

This set up first and ten from the red zone, where Harris got the carry with a good push from the o-line once again, with a ferocious pancake from Daniels, including Freiermuth keeping Garrett away from the play, and Harris finding a solid hole between Dotson Moore for ten yards. First and goal from the five now, and Harris got good collective blocking again on the run including Freiermuth, with Dotson especially providing a good push on the four-yard gain that nearly got in. On second and goal from the one, though I don’t love shotgun in this situation, the Steelers go play action with Trubisky keeping it and scrambling right for the endzone, and despite Pickens allowing the cornerback past him on his run block, showed great toughness and effort to get in for the touchdown! Pittsburgh’s offense providing a five-minute drive following the long drive the defense endured, and really encouraged with the offense overall thus far. Steelers up 14-13.

One more opportunity for the offense with 30 seconds before halftime, and Trubisky has all day to throw, leading to Cleveland being penalized for defensive holding, understandable when having to cover Johnson (drew the penalty) that long. The following first down was a 20-yard explosive play, rolling left and waiting patiently behind good blocking for Claypool’s crossing route to open up against the zone. Pittsburgh took their final timeout with 17 seconds left. The following three plays were all incompletions to end the half, starting with a pass over the head of both Claypool and Johnson out of bounds, with the latter wide open and a huge opportunity missed there. The next was a deep target to Pickens into double coverage, also out of his reach out of bounds. With six seconds left, Pickens was the target again, this time with seemingly nothing open downfield on the short target near the sideline to end the half. Huge miss to Johnson that could’ve set up more first half points, but encouraging to see the best first half for the offense in 2022.

Pittsburgh’s offense came out first to open the second half, starting with a slot screen to Johnson but Claypool missing his block out wide on the limited gain of one out of bounds and noted a nice combo pancake block from Daniels and Cole. On second and nine, Trubisky targeted Pickens on a stop route and though the pass was a bit low and away, definitely catchable but instead falls incomplete. Third and nine now, and Cleveland showed blitz and brought it, which the o-line struggled to pick up collectively (Dotson on the ground, Okorafor and Daniels beat and allowing pressure) and Warren got a good pass block initially but lost late ending up on the ground, but Trubisky was able to step up and impressively keep his eyes downfield to complete the pass to Claypool on the sideline for the gain of 14.

The following first down Cleveland was penalized for too many men on the field, negating a would be drop on a screen to Johnson. This set up first and five, a carry with good blocks from Daniels and Cole, but Dotson’s man working off his block to hit Harris close to the line, but able to churn for a four-yard gain. On second and one, another carry from Harris where he made Gentry’s man miss at the line and follow behind him for the first down and gain of two yards. Third straight run for Harris, and Dotson got a good seal, but Moore let Garrett past to work up field, with Daniels late to react and allowing him to tackle the three-yard gain. On second and seven, and good play fake on the wide receiver reverse with the offensive line pulling that way to sell it, with Trubisky doing a great job looking deep and subtle fake to manipulate the defender deep, freeing up Harris in the flat behind the line on the opposite side with great YAC and hurdle to pick up the first down on the nine-yard gain.

The drive continued with another first down pass, with Freiermuth being pushed back and disrupting the timing on the Harris screen, with Trubisky still forcing it on the loss of four, and wonder what the all-22 will show here, with seemingly Pickens open even on the TV tape. On second and 14, Okorafor was penalized for ineligible man downfield, negating a would-be huge gain on a flip pass by Warren. Instead second and 19, another stop route just short of the sticks on the 14-yard gain. Third and five now, and Claypool was penalized for pass interference, but with the pass falling incomplete, Cleveland declines setting up fourth down.

The Steelers offense finally returned with 2:31 in the third quarter, following the defense being on the field for a seven-minute drive and now down by two and Cleveland’s defense dealing with injuries. Harris got the carry on first down, only able to gain a yard with Heyward losing his block and allowing the tackle. On second and nine, Trubisky fakes to Harris and keeps the RPO, running to the edge with a good pulling block from Freiermuth, but his man just able to trip him up to limit the gain to six yards. This proved costly, with the following third and three an excellent throw deep, hit as he threw with pressure by Garrett allowed by Moore, and despite this dropping it in the bucket to Johnson but dropped off his hands incomplete. What a discouraging three and out, forcing the punt right back to the overworked defense and still down by two.

With 9:29 left in the game and a nine-point deficit, the offense started with a Harris run with good blocks from Daniels and Claypool, but lost his footing for no gain. On second and ten, Trubisky had the right idea going deep, but threw to Claypool in tight double coverage over the middle, but jarred loose at the last second incomplete. Third and ten now, and a crucial untimely false start penalty on Dotson, insult to injury setting them back to third and 15. Trubisky then targeted Freiermuth over the middle, but the pass was overthrown, and likely would have been short of the first with two defenders there waiting. Terrible offense when it matters most, another three and out.

5:29 left, pinned back at their own six, and down by nine, Trubisky comes out passing to Claypool who makes the catch for seven yards on the out route getting out of bounds. On second and three, Trubisky’s target was a bit low to Johnson on the deep out, nearly going down to get it but hit the turf incomplete. Third and three now, and Harris was late rotating and getting beat in pass pro, with Trubisky trying to elude but excruciatingly takes the sack! Unbelievable, another three and out, and curious to see the all-22 with Trubisky knowing he’s got to make something happen there. Gross display in the second half for the offense.

The offense got yet another shot with 3:13 left in regulation, with Trubisky good throw behind a good pocket to Johnson who did well to keep his feet inbounds for the catch for 13 yards. Trubisky had another good throw on the following first down, this one to Freiermuth who had a quiet game as a receiver, a back shoulder up the seam in traffic for an explosive 26-yard gain. Freiermuth made another catch on the following play, also over the middle and holding on despite a solid hit for 15 yards. Trubisky put it up for Pickens on the right sideline into the end zone, going for another one hand snag, tipped and appeared to be intercepted, but was ruled out of bounds. On second and ten, Pickens was able to secure his next target showing good strength and fight to break a tackle but was brought down in bounds for only five yards. The Steelers hurried up to get a play off before the two-minute warning, but offsetting penalties instead (Steelers illegal shift, Browns pass interference.

Third and five with two minutes left, and the pass to Freiermuth is agonizingly incomplete, broken up by good coverage. Pittsburgh goes for the field goal here taking the likelier points (arguable with Boswell’s earlier miss and the weather conditions), but it’s thankfully good, cutting the deficit to six with 1:48 left.

The offense had one more shot with nine seconds left from their own four-yard line, hoping to see a deep shot, but instead a short pass with laterals that only moved backward, and Harris’ final lateral ending up in the end zone recovered by Cleveland to add insult to injury. What a tale of two halves, with an encouraging start to the game, but putrid second half in this upsetting divisional loss.

Now for the defense:

PFF’s highest graded defender was safety Miles Killebrew (73.4) on his limited five snaps, highlighting no defender having a spectacular game overall. The only other players with above 70 grades are edge rusher Alex Highsmith (73) and cornerback Cameron Sutton (72.3) which I agree with, along agreeing with defensive lineman Cameron Heyward’s grade. While most of the below the mean grades were deserving, what does linebacker Devin Bush have to do to get a respectable grade? They dinged him in coverage in particular, allowing three catches for 33 yards, but thought his 47.9 grade was way too low on another good performance in my opinion repeatedly making my notes positively, especially against the run. Nine players in total landed with a below 50 grade, and agree with defensive lineman Tyson Alualu being the lowest 30.3 grade, really struggling in the game.

Pittsburgh’s defense came out first to start the game, and as expected defended a run from Browns running back Nick Chubb, with defensive lineman Larry Ogunjobi getting washed out by Browns right tackle Jack Conklin making his season debut, and good job by edge rusher Malik Reed to set the edge and work off his block to stop him for the tackle of one yard. On second and nine, it was back to Chubb again, but this time he found space on a 13-yard gain with Ogunjobi running himself past the play along with good blocks on linebacker Devin Bush and a double team on defensive lineman Cameron Heyward for a big hole, and safety Minkah Fitzpatrick tackling the hurdle attempt.

The following first down was the drop back from Cleveland quarterback Jacoby Brissett, with a good push from Reed and Ogunjobi, with the latter wrapping him up for the near sack, but the able to get the pass off incomplete. On second and ten, the following pass was a screen to Browns wide receiver Amari Cooper, and great job by cornerback Cameron Sutton to shoot backfield between blockers to trip him up for no gain. Third and ten now, and Pittsburgh lacks pressure with a four-man rush including Ogunjobi and fellow defensive lineman Tyson Alualu ending up on the ground, and Brissett targeted Browns wide receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones past the sticks, but good eyes on the quarterback to come by cornerback Levi Wallace from his short zone drop for the pass breakup and incompletion. Nice job shutting down three straight passes for a short early drive.

The defense returned quickly at 11:04, stopping another Chubb run for two yards with Steelers edge rusher Alex Highsmith doing a great job to set the edge and work off his block to make the tackle. On second eight, running back Kareem Hunt was split wide and motioned to the slot across the formation, then caught the screen pass with ample separation with slot cornerback Arthur Maulet coming on the blitz, with cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon getting off Cooper’s block well but unable to make the tackle, and good burst and tackle from linebacker Myles Jack for only one yard. Third down and seven now, and big situational penalty here on Highsmith in the neutral zone, setting up third and two. Defensive lineman Larry Ogunjobi did a great job to split the center and win against Browns right guard Wyatt Teller on his pass rush, providing a great sack along with Highsmith blitzing from an off-ball alignment to combine for the sack and stop the Browns for a three and out and another short drive early on. Still scoreless.

With 5:55 in the first quarter, the defense returned to a Chubb on the third straight drive, with Highsmith setting the edge and nearly able to get there in the backfield, Alualu blocked to the ground, and good play to work off his block for the stop of only one yard by Heyward. On second and nine, Brissett targets Chubb in the flat but leads him too far on the incompletion with Highsmith in coverage. Third and nine now, and Pittsburgh rushes five but blocked well, with Browns tight end David Njoku getting his first catch from the slot, with cornerback Levi Wallace a step behind in man coverage on his route over the middle but able to make the tackle just short of the sticks on the eight-yard gain. The Browns decide to go for it on fourth and one, with Brissett keeping it on the sneak and picking up the first down, behind a good interior push on Alualu and fellow defensive lineman Chris Wormley who made the tackle but a three-yard gain and conversion.

The drive continued with another Chubb run, and unfortunately this one breaks loose for an explosive 36-yard gain with solid blocks from the o-line, tight end, and two wide receivers to that side, with Bush being pancaked and Witherspoon coming up into the hole but missing with a low tackle attempt, and safety Minkah Fitzpatrick also missing a downfield tackle with fellow safety Terrell Edmunds finally bringing him down. The following first down from the redzone at Pittsburgh’s 12-yard line, Chubb run with Ogunjobi and Reed each penetrating well to force the bounce out, where Witherspoon was unblocked and responded with a sound tackle for only one yard. On second and nine, Brissett finds Cooper from the slot on a slant route short of the sticks with separation, taking advantage of a tough coverage assignment given to Edmunds and Fitzpatrick a tick late to react on the 11-yard touchdown. Fourth down conversion and explosive run prove costly, Steelers down by seven.

The defense returned at 14:49 in the second quarter, this time motioning the running back out wide for a shotgun empty set pass to a pass to Cooper, who settled between Jack and Edmunds’ zone drop with the former making the tackle on the six-yard gain. On second and four, edge rusher Delontae Scott and Ogunjobi provided a push, forcing the scramble drill where Cooper released deep and beat Witherspoon deep, but thankfully his stepped out of bounds unnecessarily prior to the catch for a loss of down. Third and four now, and good push from Heyward along with Highsmith looping across the entire formation to nearly bat the pass, instead complete to Njoku on the stick route from the slot with edge rusher Jamir Jones a late to react off his zone drop but making the tackle on the first down plus YAC for 13-yards. Pittsburgh then had to use a timeout to avoid a personnel penalty.

The following first down was a Hunt run, where Highsmith got good penetration upfield, Edmunds set the edge well, and Bush did well to get off the blocker, along with Heyward throwing his man to the ground to combine for the tackle for only one yard. On second and nine, defensive lineman Montravius Adams provided a nice play on the batted pass forcing the incompletion to an open receiver. Third and nine now, and Brissett targeted Peoples-Jones on the following play as well, an out route getting good separation in front of zone and able to get ten yards and just enough for the first before Sutton could make the tackle on the sideline.

The drive continued with a trick play, a flip pass to Hunt, who tossed it to the receiver on the reverse, tossing it back to Brissett, who got the ball back to Hunt on the screen with a wall of offensive lineman out in front, but encouragingly Witherspoon was able to stay free of Teller’s block to make the tackle but an 11-yard gain. Bush provided pressure up the middle on the following first down, but able to get it to Cooper on a deep out route, beating Witherspoon in coverage for the 18-yard gain.

Fourth fresh set of downs on the drive, and Chubb got the outside run handoff, and great push off the line by Adams to blow his blocker back and to the ground, but unable to corral him behind the line for a big loss due to his cutback ability, and despite Highsmith seemingly blocked in the back, gets back on his feet to make the tackle of only one yard. On second and nine, Njoku got another catch on a short stick route with Sutton coming off his zone drop to tackle the six-yard gain. Third and three now, and Hunt got the carry behind Bitonio pulling, who got a good blook on Witherspoon along with Reed being sealed, but working free along with Bush getting off the wide receivers block to combine for the tackle but a six-yard gain and first down. This set up first and goal from the seven, and Brissett finds Njoku for yet another reception, this time split out wide running a slant to the end zone for the leaping grab over Edmunds for the touchdown. Long six-minute drive, and Browns tight ends continue to give Pittsburgh fits when they square off. The extra point was missed, so Steelers trail by six.

The defense got a bit of rest, returning with 3:45 before halftime and a one-point lead now. The Browns came out passing with another target to David Njoku, with Bush in tight coverage allowing the catch but immediately making the tackle on the gain of six. On second and four, it was Njoku again, with Heyward trying to help but with a chip and redirect at the line, but this actually created separation from Bush, who was able to get to him before the sticks but missed the tackle, and good pursuit from Alualu all the way from the line of scrimmage but also missing a tackle, with Bush finally chasing him down after big YAC on a second effort for the tackle of 19 yards. On first down, you guessed it, Njoku again for the third straight play, making another catch with Jack providing the close coverage and tackle, but able to fall forward for another chain moving play. Here the Browns went with a run with Jack meeting Chubb at the line, who showed strength two drag him on his tackle for the three-yard gain and take the clock down to the two-minute warning.

On second and seven, Hunt got the carry on a stretch run to the right, able to find a cutback crease between defensive lineman DeMarvin Leal and Wormley, with the latter being blocked to the ground, and finally Jack wrapping him by the ankles along with Maulet coming in to combine for the tackle. The following first down was to Hunt again on the ground, and Reed did a great job to work both inside, then around off his cuts despite seemingly being held by Conklin (Maulet flying in but missing the angle), allowing Wormley and Jack to come in for the combined tackle. On second and ten with 57 seconds left, Brissett dropped back and got the dump off pass to Hunt following a good push from Reed in his face, with the completion going for two yards, staying on his feet following a lunging low attempt from Jack and linebacker Robert Spillane pushing him out of bounds. Third and eight with 50 seconds left, and the receiver was able to get separation on the drag route, with Sutton having to work through traffic but great recovery speed to tackle the six-yard gain short of the sticks! Cleveland decides to go for it for the second time on fourth and two, with the throw to Cooper originally ruled a catch for four yards, but upon review was overturned incomplete for the big situational fourth down stop before halftime! Steelers still lead by one.

The defense returned with 9:33 in the third quarter to a Chubb run, limiting him to only one yard with Spillane shooting into the backfield to wrap him up four yards behind the line but allowing a churn and needing Bush’s help, to bring him down, working off Conklin’s block well on the combined tackle. On second and nine, Brissett found Cooper on the out route at the sticks against Witherspoon, who went for the pass break up unsuccessfully, allowing the angle to turn up field and run for an explosive play of 28 yards behind Chubb’s downfield block on Spillane and Fitzpatrick finally running him out of bounds. The following first down was another completion to Njoku on the tight end screen, with plenty of room for YAC with Reed and Jack blocked up, and the latter working off his block to combine with Witherspoon on the tackle, but a 12-yard chain moving play.

The chunk plays continued on the following first down, with a Chubb run this time where the entire d-line of Reed, Ogunjobi, Alualu, and Wormley were all blocked up, along with Chubb churning and three o-lineman pushing the pile for nine yards with Wormley and Bush combined for the tackle. On second and one, Cleveland was penalized for holding, thankfully negating a Brissett scramble for a first down. Instead, second and 11, but Chubb picks up the majority of the needed yardage on the run behind good blocking, eluding Edmunds who met him in the hole with a good cut and Leal making the tackle. Third and three now, with Highsmith and Jack blocked by pulling lineman, and thankfully Heyward got a good push to close the hole, forcing Hunt to trip over an o-lineman’s foot and credited with the tackle to get the stop on third down. Cleveland goes for another fourth down here, motioning Hunt into the backfield and giving him the quick handoff from the fullback position, with Edmunds in position to make a play but committing to Chubb, which was confusing in this case considering Brissett fell and therefore had no chance to get the ball outside, and Witherspoon and Jack finally combining to tackle the nine-yard gain and conversion. Ugly.

The long drive continued with a Chubb run, defended better with Reed containing the edge along with Bush working up field and off his block to crowd the hole, and Highsmith working down the line to make the tackle. On second and seven, Cooper got another catch against Witherspoon, giving cushion off the line but reading, reacting, and tackling the stop route quickly short of the sticks on the gain of six. Third and one now from the red zone, and Pittsburgh yet again cannot get the stop on a short yardage money down, with Brissett converting second quarterback sneak on fourth down, churning forward behind the right guard and through Alualu’s tackle for two yards.

Thankfully the defense firmed up, with Cleveland confusingly going three straight passes here. On first down, Sutton did a great job coming off his deep drop to Njoku’s out route just short of the goal line, providing a solid hit at the catch point to jar the ball loose incomplete. On second and ten, Ogunjobi, Highsmith, and Bush got a push on their pass rush in Brissett’s face, rushing his out-route throw to Cooper, bouncing off Witherspoon in tight coverage incomplete. Third and ten now, and Brissett finds Hunt on the Texas route over the middle but it’s dropped, and would have been short of the first with Jack bringing him down. The Browns do put points up with a field goal to cap this long 14 play, seven-minute drive. Steelers down by two.

The defense returned quickly after an offensive three and out with 1:04 left in the third. The Browns closed out the third quarter with two Chubb runs. The first was a five-yard gain where Edmunds had the edge, but Chubb eluded him again on the inside cut and Jack made the tackle. On second and five, the run fits were good but was able to gain four yards churning through Wormley and Heyward’s combined tackle.

The drive continued to start the fourth quarter with a third and one, and Cleveland went play action getting the defense to understandably bit, with Brissett unleashing it deep to Cooper for the explosive air yard completion, with Sutton beat in coverage but making the tackle on the 32-yard gain. Painful to watch.

Back to Chubb on the ground on first down, cutting back through a gaping hole between Alualu, and Ogunjobi along with Wormley washed out, Jack missing a tackle as well as Chubb bouncing off a Reed tackle, and finally Wallace wrapping him up but allowing a couple more yards on the churn and Fitzpatrick coming in to combine for the tackle of 16 yards! Defense looks gased.

The Browns understandably kept it on the ground, with Hunt benefitting from a big hole this time between Ogunjobi and Reed, along with good blocks on Alualu and Jack, with latter working off his late and combining with Bush who stayed clean coming across the formation on the tackle but an eight-yard chunk. On second and two from the red zone, Highsmith provided a much-needed run stop, getting inside the tight end and tackling Hunt for only one yard. Third and one now, and Brissett took his third sneak for his easiest conversion yet, gaining six yards with Alualu over committing thinking it would go to the right side again, and Bush getting muscled on his tackle for extra yards.

This set up first and goal, with Hunt getting the carry behind Bitonio pulling and solidly sealing Scott for the cutback lane, with Heyward coming off his block along with Bush combining to tackle the five-yard gain. On second and goal, Bush provided another good run tackle stopping Hunt just short of the goal line on the gain of two. Third and goal now, and Hunt appeared to have a bit of daylight cutting up the middle, but good job by Wormley to long arm his blocker and stand him up, with Fitzpatrick coming in to assist for no gain. Big fourth and goal, and Cleveland decides to go for it again with Chubb behind a double team block on Bush, leaping and met by Heyward and Fitzpatrick, but hammers it in on the second effort. Gut wrenching play to cap off the back-to-back long drive, and putting Pittsburgh down by nine. Ouch.

Poor Steelers defense, back at it quickly with 8:32 left and the Browns getting the clock running with another Chubb run for three yards with Jones coming free down the line for the tackle. On second and seven, Brissett dropped back and continued his great connection with Njoku for an eight-yard gain with Bush making the tackle but allowing him to fight for the first down. Chubb got the ball on the ground the following two plays, both tackles by Highsmith for a gain of three, then a great stop darting into the backfield unblocked for the loss of five. This set up third and 12, where Reed provided a good push, and Brissett’s pass to Cooper went off his hands for the drop with Wallace beat in coverage. Good job by the defense to get the stop after the tough second half situations they faced, but can the offense do anything with it?

Nope. With 4:18 left, the defense had to come out again after another three and out, with Cleveland expectedly running with the nine-point lead, and Jack stands Hunt up after only two yards with Heyward coming to assist on the tackle and force Pittsburgh’s first timeout. On second and eight, Chubb got the carry, and great run stop behind the line here by Heyward for a loss of two! Third and ten now following another Steelers timeout, and awesome spin move inside by Highsmith for the sack! Three and out by the defense, still down by nine.

With 1:46 left after Pittsburgh’s field goal and failed onside recovery attempt, Chubb carried to force the Steelers final timeout with Alualu tackling the three-yard gain. Chubb ran again on second and seven for six yards with Alualu on the tackle once again with Jack combining on the stop. Cleveland ran the clock down and took a timeout with 36 seconds left. Third and one now, and Chubb ran again appearing to get the first on the initial call, but upon review was tackled for no gain by Wallace. This forced a punt with 15 seconds left. Similar to the offense, it was a tale of two halves, especially against the run with good results in the first half, but were gased and dominated in the second half losing the obvious biggest key of the game going in.

Last, let’s look at special teams:

PFF’s highest graded special teamer was Miles Killebrew, which he also accomplished on defenseon limited snaps, getting his hand on a punt and making a tackle with an 82.7 grade. James Pierre also had a good game, with an 81.5 grade getting downfield and making tackles. Benny Snell was the other player with an above 70 grade, and thought Miles Boykin was graded a bit low. Tre Norwood (48.3) and long snapper Christian Kuntz (40.2) received the lowest grades for the week.

Punter Pressley Harvin got his first opportunity early, a short 39-yard punt traveling to the 23-yardline, and great gunner play from Miles Boykin and James Pierre forcing the fair catch. Miles Killebrew provided a good push to pressure Cleveland’s punt at 8:45 in the first quarter, getting his hand on and affecting the short 25-yarder that went out of bounds! Special teams showing out early. Boswell attempted his first field goal with 5:59 in the first quarter, a 49-yarder, but the kick was wide right and no good with the high winds playing a major factor early.

Boswell’s kickoff to start the second quarter was a short line drive to the nine-yard line, with Miles Killebrew shedding the blocker to make the solid tackle at the 21-yard line. Boswell kicked off with 3:50 before halftime, sending to the endzone, with the returner taking it out but only to the 12-yard line where Boykin made a great play and tackle as we’ve grown accustomed to so far in 2022.

Gunner Olszewski took the opening kickoff from the end zone, but poor overall blocking limited the return to 16 yards. Pittsburgh took a delay of game penalty to give Harvin more room on his punt attempt at 9:40 in the third quarter, a 32-yarder that was fair caught at the 14-yard line. Harvin’s next punt came with 1:16 left in the third quarter, a 48-yarder that rolled and was downed by Pierre at the 20.

Harvin punted yet again with yet another offensive three and out, this one a 48-yarder traveling to the 32-yard line, returned for seven yards where Pierre cut inside two blockers and providing another solid tackle. Harvin was a busy man in the second half, with his next punt at 4:27 a 45-yarder with Pierre getting yet another tackle and limiting the return to only four yards! Boswell made his second field goal with only 1:51 left, converting when it counts to give Pittsburgh one last shot. This shot also depended on a Boswell onside kick, with Pickens having an opportunity to recover the loose ball on the bounce but was unable, and was also penalized for offsides giving Cleveland extra yardage.


Thanks for reading and let me know your thoughts in the comments!

To Top
error: Alert: Content is protected !!