CLEVELAND, Ohio – After a short week, the Cleveland Browns are back in action today, Sept. 22, against their bitter rival, the Pittsburgh Steelers. Kickoff is scheduled for 8:15 p.m. ET.
Last week, the Browns (1-1) were doomed by their own mistakes. The New York Jets, led by quarterback Joe Flacco went on two of the most improbable touchdown drives to capture victory from the jaws of defeat. A series of broken coverages throughout the Browns secondary allowed the Jets to make a 13-point Browns lead evaporate before their shocked eyes.
Today, though, the Browns are setting out to get back on the right track. Their opponent: the Pittsburgh Steelers (1-1). The new-look Steelers are also looking to break away from their mistakes after a narrow 17-14 loss to the New England Patriots.
Despite the sour taste in their mouths, the Browns have a lot to be interested in tonight. Myles Garrett needs one-half sack to tie Clay Matthews’s Browns career sack record, and a full sack will break it. In addition, the Browns will be honoring former cornerback Joe Haden, who signed a one-day contract with the club yesterday to retire as a Brown.
Time: 8:15 p.m. ET
Where: Cleveland, Ohio – FirstEnergy Stadium
TV: Amazon Prime – Al Michaels, Kirk Herbstreit
Radio: Cleveland Browns Radio Network
Weather: 60oF, 1% chance of rain, 22 mph winds NNW
Pittsburgh Steelers (1-1, AFC North)
- Total Offense: 29th (255.0 ypg)
- Passing Offense: 28th (172.0 ypg)
- Rushing Offense: 26th (83.0 ypg)
- Scoring Offense: 21st (18.5 ppg)
- Total Defense: 25th (404.0 ypg)
- Passing Defense: 30th (275.5 ypg)
- Rushing Defense: 22nd (128.5 ypg)
- Scoring Defense: 13th (18.5 ppg)
- T Jack Conklin (knee) Probable
- DE Myles Garrett (neck) Probable
- G Joel Bitonio (biceps) Probable
- DE Jadeveon Clowney (ankle) Out
- LB Devin Bush (foot) Questionable
- Despite a poor ending, quarterback Jacoby Brissett posted his best game in brown and orange against the Jets. Brissett was incredibly efficient through the air, going 22-of-27 for 229 yards and one touchdown strike to Amari Cooper. Brissett also tossed his first interception of the season on the game’s final play.
- The Jets’ vaunted defensive line seemed helpless against the Browns’ rushing attack, which bodes well for another matchup against a talented defensive front. Nick Chubb exploded for 87 yards and 3 touchdowns on 17 carries against the Jets. Kareem Hunt tossed in 58 yards on his 13 carries and even Brissett got in on the rushing game, tallying 43 yards on 6 surprising carries.
- A week after struggling through the air, Brissett and his receivers seemed to be on the same page a week ago. Cooper in particular looked the part of a number one target, hauling in 9 catches on 10 targets for 101 yards and a receiving score.
- Last week, tight ends began to see some work, with David Njoku and Harrison Bryant the second and third most targeted players with five and four respective targets. If Stefanski wants to keep running the power run, play-action focused scheme with Brissett under center, the pair of pass catchers will see a lot more work.
- T Jack Conklin (knee) is expected to make his season debut tonight against the Steelers. While James Hudson III played well in Conklin’s stead, the former Titan is one of the league’s top right tackles. Conklin’s return should help make the Browns’ offensive attack even stronger.
- DE Myles Garrett is still chasing history, despite his neck injury. Garrett will line up against a Pittsburgh offensive line that isn’t as strong as it used to be. Left tackle Dan Moore Jr. will have his hands full against the league’s top edge rusher.
- On the defensive side, the Browns will be thin at edge rusher with Jadeveon Clowney (ankle) out and Chase Winovich (hamstring) on injured reserve. Rookie Alex Wright will see significant playing time to build off of a strong start. Cleveland also elevated fan favorite Isaac Rochell to the active roster and is expecting the return of Isaiah Thomas soon, if not tonight.
- There is a lot to figure out in the Browns’ secondary, but perhaps a players-only meeting will get them on the right track. The entire secondary has not been on the same page this season, leading to busted coverages and long touchdown throws in both games. Many secondary players have said they’ll make the fixes and communicate better, but that remains unseen. If the players don’t figure it out, perhaps Cleveland looks to make a more drastic change.
- Rookie phenom Cade York will face his toughest game day conditions so far on a brisk night in Cleveland. The wind is expected to be whipping through FirstEnergy Stadium in excess of 20 mph by the time kickoff rolls around.
- Demetric Felton struggled in the punt return game a week ago, and it seems that rookie Jerome Ford has taken over kick return duties. Cleveland elevated wideout Chester Rogers from their practice squad in preparation for tonight’s game, and he brings punt returning experience. Look for Rogers to line up deep on fourth downs tonight.
- Ben Roethlisberger is no longer the face of the Steelers, with Cleveland native Mitchell Trubisky lining up under center. Trubisky has fared decently so far this season, completing 59.2% of his passes for 362 yards, one touchdown, and one interception.
- Based on last season’s offensive styles, expect a heavy dose of second-year tailback Najee Harris out of the backfield. Harris is averaging a measly 2.9 yards per carry this season, but Pittsburgh will likely continue to pound the pigskin in order to set up the pass.
- Pittsburgh has a talented stable of pass catchers, headlined by recently-extended Toledo product Diontae Johnson. Johnson is joined by Chase Claypool and rookie George Pickens. The Pittsburgh pass catchers will give the Browns’ secondary a challenge, especially with the number of blown coverages we’ve seen so far this season.
- The Steelers may be without reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year T.J. Watt, but they still have a formidable front seven. Cameron Heyward is still one of the top defensive linemen in the NFL, Tyson Alualu is terrific against the run, and Larry Ogunjobi can hold his own. The Browns were successful last week against a talented Jets front and will need a repeat performance tonight.
- Safety Minkah Fitzpatrick and the rest of the Pittsburgh secondary are looking to make Brisset’s night tough. Fitzpatrick has already snagged two interceptions on the year, and he is joined by Terrell Edmunds and Cameron Sutton deep. Edmunds and Sutton are very capable players, and their coverage skills open up Fitzpatrick to go for the home run plays.
- The storied Browns-Steelers rivalry has had 141 installments, with Pittsburgh leading the series 79-61-1.
- There have been 61 meetings in Cleveland, with the Browns holding a 39-29-1 edge on the shores of Lake Erie.
- Pittsburgh has taken three of the last five meetings between the two bitter rivals.
- Cleveland and Pittsburgh closed out the 2021-22 regular season at Heinz Field, where Pittsburgh punched their playoff ticket with a 26-14 win. The Steelers held Nick Chubb and the Browns under 100 yards rushing while picking Baker Mayfield off twice.
The Browns will enjoy a long week before flying down to Atlanta to take on the Falcons, Oct. 2. Kickoff from Mercedes-Benz Stadium is scheduled for 1:00 p.m. ET on CBS.
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