The Browns suffered their first defeat of the season on Monday night football as they lost 26-22 to division rival Pittsburgh Steelers in an up-and-down affair. Despite the defeat, there were some key players that stood out for the Browns in Week 2.
There were a lot of Browns players that struggled in the contest. None more than quarterback Deshaun Watson. He had two lost fumbles and one interception. Two of his turnovers were returned to the endzone. Indeed, the Browns defense played well, giving up just one touchdown.
3 Key Players for Cleveland Browns in Week 2 Loss to Pittsburgh Steelers
Star running back and unanimous best player on the Browns offense, Nick Chubb, was gashing the Steelers early in the game. He managed 64 rushing yards on just 10 carries. However, as he approached the endzone in the second quarter, he took an awkward hit and suffered a severe injury to his left knee. This meant Jerome Ford, a former fifth-round draft pick in his sophomore year, had to fill in for the best part of three quarters of the game.
Ford performed excellently. He did as well as anyone can when replacing an All-Pro running back, as he finished with 16 carries for 106 rushing yards (6.6 yards per carry). The young back also had three catches for 25 receiving yards and a touchdown.
Moreover, Ford’s 69-yard run early in the second half set up a rushing touchdown for the Browns’ other running back, Pierre Strong Jr., the former New England Patriot. Ford will now anchor the running back group for the Browns for the foreseeable future.
JEROME FORD REVERSES FIELD FOR THE 69-YARD RUN 🔥
— NFL (@NFL) September 19, 2023
The Browns’ best wide receiver, Amari Cooper, was questionable for Monday night’s contest. However, shortly before the game, Cooper was ruled as active.
Fortunately for the Browns, the star wideout looked as healthy as ever. He ran crisp routes and made tough contested catches all night. His strong effort was rewarded with 10 targets. With those targets, he managed seven catches for 90 yards.
Only two players received more than four targets all game, and Cooper made the most of it whenever the ball was thrown his way. With Chubb being hurt and the Browns trailing, he made sure to step up for the Browns offense as much as he could.
Like Ford, 24-year-old Grant Delpit is another young player that burst onto the scene against the Steelers. The Browns defense made big plays throughout the game, but Delpit set the tone early when he picked off Steelers quarterback, Kenny Pickett, on Pittsburgh’s first drive of the game. This immediately put his team in the opposition red zone.
Denzel Ward, Greg Newsome, and Juan Thornhill may be the big name players. However, Delpit had as good of a game as anyone. He finished with six tackles (four solo tackles), one pass deflection and one crucial early-game interception.
As the offense goes through some more growing pains with a new quarterback and backfield, the defense will be relied on even more. Therefore, expect Delpit to continue his breakout for Cleveland.
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