The Cleveland Browns have been able to hang with the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 3. They’d rather have a lead, but the Browns are still within a score of getting ahead of the Steelers and are down just one point heading into halftime. Though they will kick off to Pittsburgh to start the second half, Cleveland should have a chance to take control of the game if they can play some stingy defense in the third quarter.
Here are our three biggest takeaways from the game’s first half:
Jacoby Brissett is dialed in
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Brissett’s performance so far has been nearly flawless. Though he would like to be better than 16-for-22 on his passing attempts, Brissett has marched the Browns down the field for two long scoring drives and has found seven different receivers for receptions. After finding star receiver Amari Cooper for the team’s first touchdown of the matchup, he hit David Njoku for another early in the second quarter to get Cleveland back in the lead.
His counting stats might not earn him widespread recognition around the league or in fantasy football circles, but Brissett has been a rock for the Browns so far this season. As he builds on this already solid showing, he could start to draw attention from the national audience that is getting their first glimpse of what he brings to the gridiron.
Cleveland's pass rush has been non-existent against Mitchell Trubisky
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Myles Garrett remains one sack away from the Browns’ franchise record, and with half of this game in the books, fans will have to wait for the third and fourth quarters to see if he will finally make history. Overall, the team has managed to hurry Trubisky three times but has not managed to secure a sack.
Defensive coordinator Joe Woods would be wise to dial up more blitzes or try some novel alignments and assignments to overwhelm the Steelers’ line and get his players into Pittsburgh’s backfield. If he can’t adjust to the game in real-time, Woods may find himself on the hot seat, especially after the team’s defensive collapse last week against the New York Jets.
Kickers Cade York and Chris Boswell are struggling to compensate for gusty conditions
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The wind might not be much of a factor in most football games, but the Browns’ first two matchups have been decided by a total of three points, so this week feels like it is destined to come down to a field goal. Both kickers have already missed on one of their attempts, York on a point after try, and Boswell on a three-point attempt.
This gritty matchup of AFC North rivals looks to be headed to a close finish, and Cleveland is down by a point because kicking conditions are poor. Whether the wind will play in their favor or not at the final whistle is anyone’s guess, but the Browns will need to score touchdowns in the second half to ensure that they don’t drop their second game in a row.