Nothing might come easy to the Cleveland Browns this season.
But they survived another game that was closer than it should have been thanks to some key plays and players.
Pittsburgh came into town determined to stop the Browns’ vaunted running attack.
— Sunday Night Football on NBC (@SNFonNBC) September 23, 2022
But Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt still racked up 160 yards on the ground.
And even though Chubb came up short with a chance to ice the game, he did more than enough.
Here are the other studs and duds from the Browns’ important victory over Pittsburgh.
Stud: Jacoby Brissett
Cleveland fans who were worried about Jacoby Brissett after Week 1 are warming up to their quarterback.
Brissett ran an efficient and unrelenting attack for the second week in a row.
He was in a good throwing rhythm with all of his receivers, hitting them in stride and in time.
In 3 games #Browns QB Jacoby Brissett has put up the following numbers:
61/92 66.3% completion
1 INT pic.twitter.com/3isxrM7UQ4
— MoreForYouCleveland (@MoreForYou_CLE) September 23, 2022
And when he couldn’t find an open receiver, he moved well enough to keep plays alive.
Brissett took 2 sacks, including a smart one near the end of the game that allowed the clock to continue running.
Fans are enjoying intelligent quarterback play that keeps the chains and clocks moving effectively.
Stud: David Njoku
David Njoku had a bad drop last week and couldn’t get his feet inbounds on what could have been a touchdown.
But Thursday was a new day for the tight end and he took full advantage of it.
Njoku gathered in 9 of his 10 targets for 89 yards and that elusive touchdown.
David Njoku with the big catch for six!
— Elite Media Group (@TheEliteMedia_) September 23, 2022
The only pass he did not bring in was on a play where he was fully extended as the defender upended him.
Before the game, Njoku was interviewed by former tight end Tony Gonzalez, who brought up the Browns’ 0-16 season.
If Njoku’s answer wasn’t enough, his play on the field helped show those days are behind the franchise.
Stud: Jacob Phillips
Anthony Walker was having himself a game before he went down with a knee injury.
And Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah was already on the sidelines with a quad injury.
It was time for somebody else to show up and take charge.
😤 @jacobphillips_1 😤
— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) September 23, 2022
Second-year linebacker Tony Fields had a TV moment with a big tackle.
But it was Jacob Phillips who took charge, ending the game with 7 tackles, a sack, tackle-for-loss, and a quarterback hit.
And his best play was on a 4th quarter pass when he dove in front of tight end Pat Freiermuth and batted the ball away.
Stud: Amari Cooper
Amari Cooper left little doubt he can be the player we all hoped Odell Beckham would be.
Cooper caught 7 of his 11 targets, and even an uncharacteristic drop couldn’t diminish his importance to this offense.
Those 7 catches were enough to make him only the 4th Browns player with back-to-back 100-yard games since 1999.
— Overtime (@overtime) September 23, 2022
Josh Gordon was the last receiver to do it way back in 2013.
Brissett and Cooper are locked in, with Brissett putting the ball in the right spot at the right time all day.
And Brissett knows he can trust Cooper to get open whenever he needs a big play.
Dud: Mike Priefer
Cleveland’s special teams got a punt off in the last 14 seconds that Corey Bojorquez planted at the 5-yard line.
It might help exorcise some of the ghosts of last week’s Jets game.
But the unit didn’t field another onside kick earlier in the night, allowing it to roll out of bounds with a Steeler in pursuit.
— Scott Petrak ct (@ScottPetrak) September 23, 2022
If onside kicks were not a point of emphasis, even in a short week, Priefer needs to be an ex-coordinator.
Cleveland also managed to line up 12 men for a late Steelers field goal try and Cade York missed another extra point.
And Priefer really needs to stop giving up yards (13 today) by letting his return men come out of the end zone.
Dud: Myles Garrett?
This is probably unfair since I haven’t reviewed the game film yet.
But the fact is, Myles Garrett followed up his “disappointed by booing” statement and players-only meeting with 2 tackles.
He did register a quarterback hit and he tried many different lines of attack to get to Mitch Trubisky.
Myles Garrett is getting the attention of three Steelers blockers.
No wonder he doesn't have a sack– or more than two tackles– today. #Browns
— Hayden Grove (@H_Grove) September 23, 2022
And there were several times when he was close enough to maybe affect a pass.
Joe Woods sent his linebackers on occasion, often dropping Garrett into pass coverage at the same time.
So Myles Garrett played hard, but on a good night for Cleveland, he’s the closest player to a dud we got.