NFL: Browns, Steelers both look to bounce back in AFC North showdown
The Cleveland Browns are trying to put a big meltdown behind them in a short week as they prepare to host the Pittsburgh Steelers in an AFC North battle on Thursday night.
The Browns (1-1) blew a 13-point lead with 1:55 left to play in Sunday’s 31-30 home loss to the New York Jets. Pittsburgh (1-1) also is moving on from a setback, as it dropped a 17-14 home decision to the New England Patriots.
Cleveland’s defeat was much more painful. The Browns missed the extra point after Nick Chubb’s 12-yard scoring run to still lead by 13 with New York out of timeouts. But the Jets scored on a 66-yard touchdown pass with 1:22 remaining, recovered the onside kick and then scored the winning points with 22 seconds left.
Chubb, who rushed for 87 yards and a career-high-tying three touchdowns, said Tuesday that the loss can be pinned to him. He could have slid down without scoring, which would have allowed Cleveland to run out the clock.
“Yeah, I probably shouldn’t have scored right there,” Chubb told reporters. “Honestly, looking back at it, it cost us the game. A lot of things went wrong, not just one thing. But collectively as a unit, as a team, we could’ve all done things different. But it’s only a problem because we didn’t win. So I probably should’ve went down.”
The Browns will attempt to bounce back, and head coach Kevin Stefanski made it clear there is no time to dwell on the victory that got away.
“We have to be problem-solvers,” Stefanski said. “We have to find solutions any which way. There are a bunch of different ways you can do it, but we have to find solutions so that when we are in a position like we were (Sunday), and it’s an obvious passing situation, we just can’t let that happen.”
Pittsburgh is looking to get its passing game going in Mitch Trubisky’s third straight start.
Trubisky is averaging just 5.1 yards per completion — which ranks 32nd among 33 qualifying quarterbacks — while passing for 362 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.
“I like to throw the ball down the field,” Trubisky said. “Why I haven’t given certain looks, especially early in the games, I can’t tell you exactly why. We’re looking for that. I’m looking for that.
“Every quarterback deep down in their heart likes to throw the ball as far as they can down the field and watch their playmakers go up and get the ball.”
Steelers receiver Diontae Johnson has caught 13 passes for 112 yards and his longest gain is just 25 yards.
Pittsburgh has scored just one offensive touchdown in the first half and Johnson knows that needs to change.
“We just have to start fast,” Johnson said. “That’s the way we’re going to win games and get in the motion that we want to get into. If we don’t start fast, it’s going to be like last year. It’s going to be hard to get that momentum that we want and to put points on the board and get that field position.”
Steelers running back Najee Harris is also off to a slow start with 72 yards on 25 rushes.
Harris shredded the Cleveland defense for 279 yards in Pittsburgh’s two-game sweep of the Browns last season. He recorded a career-best 188 rushing yards in January’s 26-14 victory.
Steelers linebacker Devin Bush (foot) was a full practice participant on Tuesday and looks on track to play.
Cleveland star defensive end Myles Garrett is dealing with a neck injury. Garrett has 61.5 career sacks, just shy of the franchise record held by Clay Matthews (officially 62 after sacks became a stat in 1982).
Browns guard Joel Bitonio (biceps) is in danger of missing the game while defensive end Jadeveon Clowney (ankle) was ruled out Monday.
–Field Level Media