Jacoby Brissett threw two touchdown passes, Nick Chubb ran for a score and the Cleveland Browns bounced back from their epic meltdown four days earlier to beat the rival Pittsburgh Steelers 29-17 on Thursday.
The Browns (2-1) built a nine-point lead early in the quarter on Chubb’s 1-yard run and then held on like nothing happened.
The Steelers (1-2) pulled within 23-17 on Chris Boswell’s 34-yard field goal with 1:48 left before Pittsburgh attempted an onside kick. But unlike Sunday’s 31-30 loss, when the New York Jets overcame a 13-point deficit in the final minute at 1:55 aided by a comeback, the Browns took the ball out of bounds.
Cleveland fans were finally able to exhale when cornerback Denzel Ward fell on a Steelers fumble in the end zone on the final play for a meaningless touchdown.
Brissett connected with Amari Cooper and David Njoku for touchdowns and went 21-of-31 for 220 yards. The 29-year-old had his second solid game in a row while filling out as Deshaun Watson serves an 11-game suspension.
Chubb had 113 yards and pushed and spun across the goal line on fourth-and-goal with 9:29 remaining to put the Browns up 23-14.
Mitch Trubisky and the Steelers’ stagnant offense showed signs of life in the first half, but bogged down after halftime, clearing their first three possessions while gaining just 54 yards.
Criticized for not shooting deep the first two weeks, Trubisky threw some long balls but didn’t connect enough.
The victory softened a difficult few days for Cleveland.
After Sunday’s debacle, Myles Garrett criticized fans for booing the Browns as they walked off the field, and one fan was arrested on charges of throwing a plastic bottle in the direction of owner Jimmy Haslam on the sidelines.
But this time there was little drama, just a win over their hated Pennsylvania neighbors.
Rookie Cade York’s 34-yard field goal gave the Browns a 16-14 lead in the third quarter, when Cleveland lost four players, including starting linebackers Anthony Walker Jr. and Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, to injuries. .
Brissett’s 7-yard touchdown pass to Njoku put the Browns up 13-7 with 8:58 remaining before halftime. But for the second week in a row York missed an extra point.
Trubisky led the Steelers on a 75-yard scoring drive on 51 rushing yards before the quarterback rolled to the right and scored from the 1-yard line. Boswell’s PAT put Pittsburgh ahead 14-13.
Steelers rookie wide receiver George Pickens expressed frustration at not receiving the ball during last week’s loss to New England, saying he was open “90% of the time.” He wasn’t kidding either.
Trubisky eventually hit him with a long ball, but needed a spectacular one-handed catch from Pickens for a 36-yard gain.