2022 NFL season Week 3 What we learned from Browns win over the Steelers on Thursday
1. Amari Cooper is paying early. Think the Dallas Cowboys might regret trading Cooper? In what amounts to a salary dump, the Browns picked up a potential game changer.
Through three games, he has been as good as expected. After a quiet opener, Cooper had a big game in Week 2 that was largely forgotten when the Browns blew a two-score lead late (and Cooper admitted he was partially at fault for the loss. was on).
But in Week 3, Cooper was fundamentally sound, turning in his second straight 100-yard game and getting the Browns in business with an 11-yard score on Thursday. When Ahkilo Witherspoon-the Steelers’ best cornerback-went down with an injury in the third quarter, the Browns immediately went vertical for Cooper, and he delivered with a 32-yard catch that led to a key TD that led the game away. Even with Jacoby Brissett’s fourth-quarter slump on goal, Cooper had proven his worth early on.
The heat is on for Trubisky. Mitchell Trubisky knew this was a big game for him. And he got off to a hot start, completing eight of his first nine passes — with a big assist from George Pickens — and a rushing touchdown, giving the Steelers a 14-13 halftime lead. According to his scouting report, he mostly attacked the sidelines and avoided the middle of the field.
The Browns couldn’t stop him at first, but the Browns made the necessary adjustments in the second half and forced Trubisky to look inside more. It didn’t go well. The Steelers started the game with back-to-back three-and-outs, and the Browns rallied from a one-point disadvantage to take a 23-14 lead. The Steelers went three-and-out in a row before Trubisky guided the team on a late field goal drive. To be fair, not everything was Trubisky’s fault.
After the Steelers threw the kitchen sink at Myles Garrett, the Browns’ star pass rusher finally broke through in the second half. The receivers were guilty of a few third-quarter drops, and even offensive coordinator Matt Canada abandoned the run game after a certain point. But with a semi-bye this week, it’s not hard to wonder if the Steelers will start considering replacing rookie Kenny Pickett, even though Mike Tomlin shot down the idea shortly after the game.
Run defense leaks are not yet plugged. The Steelers couldn’t stop the defense when it needed one (or two or three) against the Patriots last week. Thursday night was the same. The Browns chipped away at the Steelers’ front and punctuated the back seven with several second-down runs. The Browns have an offensive line that includes Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt. They are as good a duo as there is in the NFL.
But that kind of dominance wouldn’t sit well with a team coached by Mike Tomlin. It’s not just an absent T.J. Watt’s problem and it’s not like the problem just arose out of thin air. Last season’s run defense was borderline ugly. Through three 2022 games, this is simply disappointing. They made several personnel changes, changed coordinators (from Keith Butler to Terrell Austin), and added Brian Flores to the coaching staff. So far, no changes have been made. Cleveland finished the game with 171 yards on 38 carries for a 4.5-yard average. With several multi-faceted offenses coming to the schedule, the Steelers have an obvious problem to solve on defense.
4. No joke: Njoku shines in prime time. David Njoku tied a career-high for catches in a game before the two-minute warning of the first half — and would go on to set his personal best midway through the third quarter. When the Browns signed Njoku to a four-year, $56.75 million contract in May, more than a few eyebrows were raised.
He has had some big moments and flashy plays but has rarely taken over games. We can’t say Njoku did exactly that on Thursday, but it’s the kind of performance he should turn in two or three times a season. He had nine catches for 89 yards (the second-highest game total of his career) and a big early score. The Browns settled for a field goal on a tight play. But that was the only complaint about his performance against a Steelers team that had largely covered him earlier in his career.
5. Bang-up The Browns’ defense turns into a gutsy effort. After the loss to the Jets, the Browns’ young, talented defense took some heat this week. Understandable too. But Thursday night’s game was a positive step in the right direction—and a step back in another area. The Steelers had some juice early, but the Browns’ defense closed the game strong, allowing just one turnover on nine third downs. Even more impressive? They did it without many key players on that side of the ball.
Cleveland already lacked Jadeveon Clowney and Chase Winovich, who was declared out earlier this week. But during the game, three more key defenders were injured: linebackers Jeremiah Owusu-Kuramah (quad) and Anthony Walker (knee) and safety Ronnie Harrison (hamstring). All the injuries left the Browns extremely short-handed, and it’s fair to wonder if all the missing personnel led to communication errors — hence the penalties for three (!) too many men on the field. But overall, it was a gutsy effort from a depleted unit that badly needed this performance.
Who is picked to win the Steelers vs. Browns game?
In Caesars Sportsbook’s latest Browns vs. Steelers odds, Cleveland is a 4.5-point favorite, with a 38-point over/under.
Next general stat of the game: on Nick Chubb’s 1-yard touchdown run on fourth down, the Browns had seven offensive linemen on the field. It was the first time in the 2022 NFL season that any team used more than six on any offensive play.
What was the final score of the Browns-Steelers game?
With Brissett, the Browns bounced back from disaster to beat the Steelers 29-17.
The Steelers’ scheduled for 2022
The Browns’ scheduled for 2022
Amari Cooper had his first back-to-back 100-yard games since 2016 with the Raiders. The last Browns wide receiver to achieve it before Cooper on Thursday was Josh Gordon, who had four straight 100-yard games in 2013.
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