The Cleveland Browns managed a victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday 13-10. The Browns were able to hold off the Steelers in a classic AFC North rock fight. Defensive end Myles Garrett stood out once again, and kicker Dustin Hopkins knocked home another game-winner.
The game was a battle of the wills as each team tried to bully the other into submission. The Browns started hot in the first half, scoring a touchdown on their second possession. The defense was robbed of multiple safeties on their first drive of the game. The Browns’ defense kept the Steelers from scoring in the first half. The offense was able to get into field goal range to end the first half.
The Steelers turned it around at halftime as they became the more aggressive team. The Steelers scored on their second play of the half as Jaylen Warren ran for a 76-yard touchdown. Pittsburgh relied on Warren and Najee to move the ball for the rest of the game. The Steelers tied the game with a field goal in the 4th quarter and held off the Browns’ offense for a couple of drives. Rookie quarterback, He led the Browns down the field into field goal range for Dustin Hopkins, who knocked the ball in like it was a routine play.
As the Cleveland Browns marched to 7-3 on the season, here are the studs and duds of the Steelers game.
Dud: QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson
Dorian Thompson-Robinson improved greatly in his second career start in the NFL. The rookie quarterback was determined to get the ball out fast to negate the Steelers’ impressive group of pass rushers. A few of the passes were predetermined and probably shouldn’t have been thrown.
To compound the problem, Thompson-Robinson was firing passes at his receivers less than 10 yards away, which caused a lot of drops. David Njoku had the most drops during the game, and he admitted that he would work on the JUGS machine the second he got home. Njoku wasn’t the only player unable to handle passes; Thompson-Robinson’s only interception happened on a tipped pass off the hands of Amari Cooper. It’s good to see Thompson-Robinson has acceptable arm strength in the NFL, but he’ll need to learn touch quickly.
Thompson-Robinson will need to rely on his arm strength to work every part of the field. The rookie quarterback cannot rely on quick games and screens. He needs to make the defense defend every portion of the field. Thompson-Robinson averaged 3.6 yards air yards per target, and the Steelers stopped respecting him to throw it deep. Instead, their defense camped 10 yards away and swarmed to the eventual ball carrier. Thompson-Robinson needs to let himself and the play breathe for a second to allow for longer routes to develop.
The rookie quarterback eventually carved up the intermediate parts of the field during the Browns’ game-winning drive. Hopefully, that was the confidence he needed to push the ball further down the field.
Dud: QB Kevin Stefanski
Kevin Stefanski has done a great job of keeping the Browns focused and motivated despite all the injuries that have mounted against the team. I’ve been a fervent Stefanski supporter throughout his time in Cleveland. I think his game against the Steelers was one of his worst games. Stefanski started the game off slow when he was late to the draw challenging Myles Garrett’s sack for an eventual safety. The Browns left 2 points on the board due to the poor process. Stefanski and his staff usually excel at game management situations. Sunday was not the case. The Browns managed to win a challenge later in the first half, awarding Jerome Ford a touchdown.
The Browns ended the first half with a sloppy two-minute drill. Quarterback Thompsom-Robinson attacked the middle of the field, and the Browns had to spend their last timeouts before the team could get into field goal range. When the Browns entered the red zone, they had to waste a down on a spike to stop the clock. In the second half, the Browns wasted another timeout to challenge a spot. I assume challenges over the spot during a scrum are rarely overturned due to a lack of video evidence. The Browns could’ve used the challenge or the timeout later in the game.
It’s rare to see the Browns’ staff mismanage gameday situations like they did on Sunday. Stefanski and the staff need to tighten operations up. Timeouts and challenges are some of the easiest decisions a head coach can make on game day. They cannot afford to mismanage them again.
Stud: DE Myles Garrett
This season, Myles Garrett’s name is etched in stone on the stud list. The defensive end is quickly running away with Defensive Player of the Year in my opinion. His highlight plays where he beats a bevy of blockers in under three seconds are happening more and more during crunch time. Garrett is making big plays when they matter most.
The defensive end was robbed of a safety as I mentioned earlier. Hopefully, that doesn’t come to haunt him when award voters recap the season by glancing at box scores after the season. Garrett’s impact in this game cannot be stated by the box scores as the Pittsburgh Steelers chose to run away from him the entire game.
In the passing game, the Steelers were double and triple-teaming Garrett on every play. Despite these efforts, Garrett finished the game with two sacks and another tackle.
Stud: DE Ogbo Okoronkwo
Ogbo Okoronkwo played an exceptional game on Sunday. The defensive end took advantage of all the attention Myles Garrett drew as Okonkwo lived in the backfield. Okoronkwo had five tackles, four tackles for loss, a sack, and a quarterback hit against the Steelers.
Okoronkwo did a great job of stuffing the stat sheet. The free-agent addition is incredibly hard to block as he has the strength, speed, and bend to threaten offensive tackles on every single pass rush. He proved against the Steelers that he is no slouch in the run game with his multiple tackles for loss.
Okoronkwo has played well all season; he’s been extremely efficient in his limited snaps. His performance against the Steelers is hopefully a launching point for a successful end of the season. Okoronkwo dedicated the game to his newborn son.
Stud: K Dustin Hopkins
Dustin Hopkins should’ve been on the stud list before this game. The kicker has been a model of consistency since entering Cleveland. Hopkins was perfect on kicks against the Steelers, and at no point did I feel worried about him missing a kick. He makes every kick look routine, his season stats help reinforce the idea.
Hopkins is 26-29 on field goals with his three misses clustered between 40-49 yards in length. The kicker missed only one extra point during that same period. It took some time and multiple draft picks, but the Browns have finally found their franchise kicker.
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