By TOM KEEP
CLEVELAND (AP) — An unimaginable meltdown still fresh in their minds, the Browns managed to avoid a second one in four days.
Jacoby Brissett threw two touchdown passes, Nick Chubb ran for a score and Cleveland bounced back from their epic slump by finishing the rival Pittsburgh Steelers 29-17 on Thursday night.
“We had the right men in that room to be able to push through,” Brissett said, “and I think we answered that call. We knew it wasn’t going to be easy. The guys answered the bell.
The Browns (2-1) built a nine-point lead early in the fourth on Chubb’s 1-yard run, then held on for life.
The Steelers (1-2) shot within 23-17 on Chris Boswell’s 34-yard field goal with 1:48 left before Pittsburgh attempted an onside kick. But unlike the 31-30 loss of Sunday, when the New York Jets overcame a 13-point deficit in the 1:55 final helped by a recovery, the Browns kicked the ball out of bounds.
For a split second, it felt like Sunday again.
Browns coach Kevin Stefanski was asked what he thought as the ball bounced near the Pittsburgh sideline. He paused for six seconds before answering.
“A lot,” he said.
Cleveland fans finally got a breather when cornerback Denzel Ward fell on a Steelers fumble in the end zone on the final play for a meaningless touchdown.
Brissett connected with Amari Cooper and David Njoku for touchdowns and went 21 of 31 for 220 yards. The 29-year-old had his second consecutive solid game as he fills in while Deshaun Watson is serving an 11-game suspension.
Chubb had 113 yards and pushed and twisted across the goal line at fourth base with 9:29 left to give the Browns a 23-14 lead.
Mitch Trubisky and the stagnant Steelers offense showed signs of life in the first half, but bogged down after halftime, kicking on their first three possessions while gaining just 54 yards.
Criticized for not throwing deep the first two weeks, Trubisky threw a few long balls but didn’t connect enough.
“I think Mitch made a few plays, but we all failed collectively,” said Steelers coach Mike Tomlin, who said he has no plans to move to rookie QB Kenny Pickett. “Winning is our job. I wasn’t looking to be impressed, I was looking to win the game.
The Pittsburgh defense is missing star winger TJ Watt, but tackle Cameron Heyward said that’s not the problem.
“When you try to tackle Nick Chubb, he’s going to charge you,” Heyward said. “We have to do much better.”
The victory smoothed over a few tough days for Cleveland.
Sunday’s debacle was followed by Myles Garrett criticizing fans for booing the Browns as they walked off the field, and a fan was arrested for throwing a plastic bottle in the direction of owner Jimmy Haslam on the sidelines.
But there was no drama this time around, just a win over their hated Pennsylvania neighbors.
“It’s not easy to bounce back,” Stefanski said. “We talked about it on Sunday. We talked about it on Monday. What I’m proud of with these guys is that you can’t let a loss drag on, and we won’t let this win drag on either. But I’m proud of how they responded. You have to be resilient. »
Rookie Cade York’s 34-yard field goal gave the Browns a 16-14 lead in the third quarter, when Cleveland lost four players, including starting linebackers Anthony Walker Jr. and Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, to injuries.
Brissett’s 7-yard pass to Njoku put the Browns up 13-7 with 8:58 left before halftime. But for the second week in a row, York missed an extra point.
Trubisky led the Steelers on a 75-yard run — 51 rushing yards — before the QB rolled right and scored a 1. Boswell’s PAT put Pittsburgh ahead 14-13.
Steelers rookie receiver George Pickens expressed frustration at not receiving the ball in a loss to New England last week, saying he was open “90% of the time”. He wasn’t kidding either.
Trubisky finally hit him with a long ball, but it took a spectacular one-handed hold from Pickens for a 36-yard gain.
Garrett failed to record a sack and remains just short of Clay Matthews’ team record of 62. The Browns All-Pro defensive end was double teamed, chipped and was credited with just-assisted tackles.
Cavaliers All-Star guards Donovan Mitchell and Darius Garland served as honorary captains for the Browns. Mitchell, recently acquired in a trade from Utah, smashed a fake guitar during pre-game festivities.
Steelers: CB Ahkello Witherspoon (right hamstring) limped off in the third quarter and did not return.
Browns: Walker was transported with his left leg immobilized in a cast. Walker appeared to be injured when he awkwardly bent over trying to fend off a block. … Owusu-Koramoah (quadriceps) didn’t come back. … DT Taven Bryan (hamstring) was also injured in the third. … S Ronnie Harrison suffered a hamstring injury during warm-ups and did not play.
Steelers: Host the New York Jets on October 2.
Browns: visit Atlanta on October 2.
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