Browns fall short against Steelers

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Game Recap

Cleveland played extremely conservatively on their opening possession. They began with a pass play, well covered by Pittsburgh that led to a short Kizer run. Hue Jackson followed that up with back to back Crowell runs, one that lost eight yards and one that picked up only a few on a halfback draw.

The Browns punt team failed to block Steelers rushers up the middle, and the Steelers got through, blocked the punt and scored the first touchdown of the game before their offense had even taken the field.

The Browns couldn’t get anything going on offense when they got the ball back. Though Kizer made a solid throw to move the chains, he took a sack and eventually the drive stalled.

The Browns defense showed up to play, however, and the Browns got the ball back after a short Steelers drive and started moving ball the field through the air. A big catch and run by Duke Johnson moved the chains for the Browns and a Crowell run took them into Steelers territory.

One of the sneaky big plays early for the Browns was a 3rd and 1 just inside Steelers territory. Kizer took the sneak and behind a big push from the Browns offensive line got the necessary yards, but it proved the psychically of Kizer and this Browns line. The Steelers had been pretty effective stopping the run up to that point, so that conversion was big for a Browns team that seemed like it was struggling to find its groove.

The Browns kept moving the ball, a large majority of Kizer’s passes going to his running backs. The check-down passes worked for the Browns though, and a Steelers penalty helped them get all the way down to the goal line before Kizer snuck it in for a Steelers touchdown.

The Browns defense came back on the field and continued to dominate at the line of scrimmage, even without Myles Garrett. The Steelers could not get anything going on the ground with Bell, and eventually they had to punt the ball back to the Browns.

The Browns wouldn’t score on their next drive, and the biggest occurrence of note was a Ryan Shazier hit on Kizer of questionable legality (as of now Shazier has not been fined).

The Browns defense did their job again, including stuffing the Steelers on a 3rd and 1 run. For a Browns team that struggled to stay psychical with teams last season, stopping Bell on a 3rd and 1 running play is a huge step in the right direction.

Though the Browns were still moving the ball on the Steelers, a missed throw and a throwaway by Kizer forced the Browns to have to punt. The Steelers still couldn’t move the ball on this Browns defense, and Pittsburgh punted it back to the Browns.

The Steelers first four offensive drives had resulted in four punts. 

The Browns offensive line let the Steelers get some pressure on Kizer on the next possession, and the Browns would punt it right back to the Steelers. With just under four minutes left in the first half, Antonio Brown came up with some big plays and led the Steelers down the field.

Jesse James caught a touchdown pass from Roethlisberger to put the Steelers up 14-7 going into halftime.

The Browns defense stopped the Steelers opening drive after the half, and when the Browns got the ball back they started moving it down the field again.

The Browns kept trying to establish the run, but seemingly every chunk play the Browns got was through the air. The Browns drove it down the red zone before the Steelers defense stiffened and the Browns kicked a field goal to make the score 14-10.

On the ensuing Steelers possession, Pittsburgh drove right down the field and another Jesse James touchdown catch put the Steelers up 21-10. The drive was mostly the result of a questionable pass interference call.

The Steelers defense kept stopping the Browns on the next drive, but they continually committed penalties that kept the chains moving for the Browns. The result could have been disastrous for Pittsburgh had TJ Watt not made a leaping interception.

After the Steelers were able to move the ball, it was the Browns turn to make a big play. Roethlisberger threw a pass that was tipped and intercepted by Derrick Kindred.

Just when it looked like the Browns were going to get something going on offense, a wide-open Kenny Britt dropped a near-perfect Kizer pass and the Browns were forced to punt.

The Browns defense was able to do what it had been doing all day however, and the Browns got the ball back and quickly drove down the field. A few big Kizer throws got them in the red zone and the Browns went for it on 4th down to score a touchdown. It was Kizer’s first passing touchdown of his NFL career.

After a successful two point conversion, the Browns put the Steelers offense back on the field down by only 3 points. A huge catch by Antonio Brown took the Steelers down the field and moved the chains.

The Browns, with two timeouts left, took one to look at the replay of the catch and then staked the other on a challenge of the catch. When they lost the challenge, they lost the timeout and therefore used two timeouts back to back. They would be unable to stop the clock and the Steelers would run time down and finish the game.

Takeaways

This Browns defense looks sensational

Even without Myles Garrett on the field, this Browns defense looked great. They made Bell a non-factor and forced the Steelers to beat them through the air. The Steelers were 5/13 on third downs yesterday and ended up totaling only 290 yards.

They only logged one sack, but hopefully with the return of Garrett that number will go up. The Browns can only get better from here.

DeShone Kizer is looking solid

Expectations were high for the Browns rookie, and Kizer came out and made some plays that Browns fans could be proud of. Though he did take some sacks unnecessarily, he was also showing improved movement in the pocket and building chemistry with the young Browns receivers.

Moving forward, Kizer needs to resort less to the check-down passes and know when to throw the ball away instead of taking a sack. He also needs to get more help from the running game.

The Browns need to run the ball more effectively

With a rookie quarterback at the helm, the Browns need to be able to establish the run and get the tough yards when they need to. While their running backs made some plays in the passing game, the Browns struggled to run the ball for the entirety of the game.

The Browns are going up against the Ravens next week, whose sensational defense will be looking to prey upon the rookie Kizer. If the Browns want to improve their chances to win that game, they need to be able to move the ball on the ground.

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