The Cleveland Browns, after beating the Pittsburgh Steelers, are in the postseason.
It didn’t come without drama.
Should Browns fans expect it to happen any other way though?
A narrow 24-22 victory over the Mason Rudolph-led Steelers was far from the best performance this team has put on this season.
That doesn’t matter though, as a playoff ticket trumps all for the time being.
Still, as with any game, there are takeaways and things to evaluate.
Let’s take a look at things from a personnel standpoint with this week’s “Studs n’ Duds”.
Stud: Nick Chubb
After a disheartening effort on the ground in the loss against the Jets, the running game turned things around in a hurry against Pittsburgh.
Sunday’s performance revolved around Nick Chubb, and boy did he show up.
Of course, having Wyatt Teller back on the offensive line helped.
That front helped pave the way for a 14-rush, 108-yard performance for Chubb that included a 47-yard touchdown scamper.
NICK CHUBB UNLEASHED 😤
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) January 3, 2021
Granted, the Steelers rested a number of defensive starters.
But this is the kind of rushing performance the Browns needed as they head into the postseason.
They’ll face this same Steelers defense next week in the Wild Card and will look to replicate what was done on Sunday.
Dud: Terrance Mitchell
Terrance Mitchell was not a complete dud against the Steelers.
However, he did give up a number of plays over the top to Pittsburgh receiver Chase Claypool.
CHASE CLAYPOOL SHOTGUN TD pic.twitter.com/I9ikv2iMzJ
— PFF Fantasy Football (@PFF_Fantasy) January 3, 2021
All Terrance Mitchell has to do is turn and find the ball and this dude is playing the eyes
He does it every game and he lets teams get big plays on him constantly
— Robert (@JRAMNOTTHAGOAT) January 3, 2021
Claypool has the height advantage over Mitchell and Mason Rudolph did a good job of attacking that matchup.
Mitchell did well on a couple occasions to break up would-be big gains.
Still, the defense may want to consider giving him some more safety help in the rematch next weekend.
Stud: Jacob Phillips
With BJ Goodson out this week, the Browns called on rookie Jacob Phillips to start in his place.
Phillips did his job well and than some.
He would lead the team in tackles after the final whistle with 10.
He made a number of heads-up plays throughout the afternoon that helped get the Browns defense off the field.
— Daryl Ruiter (@RuiterWrongFAN) January 3, 2021
There’s a significant speed difference between Jacob Phillips and Goodson
— Casey Jones (@WHOcaseyJones) January 3, 2021
It was by far his best performance of the season.
The third-round pick out of LSU earned a lot of respect from the Browns faithful on Sunday afternoon, and hopefully the coaching staff as well.
Some guys shell up when given the opportunity to shine.
With a playoff spot on the line, Phillips delivered one of the better linebacker performances we’ve seen from this team all season.
He certainly earned a spot on the “stud” list for this week.
Dud: Jedrick Wills
Similarly to Mitchell, Sunday was no nightmare for Jedrick Wills.
In fact, he helped with a nice block on Jarvis Landry’s touchdown.
— Jake Trotter (@Jake_Trotter) January 3, 2021
He did, however, have a bit of a tough afternoon against Alex Highsmith of Pittsburgh.
Jedrick Wills is no slouch and Highsmith is really making him look silly on some of these reps. Steelers have their starting OLB opposite of TJ Watt next year.
— Nick Farabaugh (@FarabaughFB) January 3, 2021
Something Browns Nation’s own Jimmy Swartz messaged in a group chat during the game was the concern over Pittsburgh’s consistent pass rush even without T.J. Watt.
Highsmith’s ability to get by Wills several times was a big contributor to that.
Alex Highsmith has really gotten the best of Jedrick Wills today… That’s impressive. #Steelers
— Tommy Jaggi (@TommyJaggi) January 3, 2021
Wills has been solid with the rest of the offensive line this season.
This may just have been one of those afternoons where he was simply outplayed.
That can’t happen next weekend though when Watt returns to the Steelers pass rush.