After Further Review: An early test of resolve

CLEVELAND - After further review …

The adversity seemingly all teams face eventually has hit the Steelers before the end of September.

It has arrived in the form of a two-game losing streak.

The second of those consecutive setbacks played out on Thursday night and was as frustrating for the Steelers as last Sunday's near miss against New England.

The offense made significant progress in the first half but stalled thereafter.

And the defense picked up where it had left off in the Patriots game and remained too vulnerable against running back Nick Chubb and the Browns' punishing ground attack.

It's all added up to a 1-2 record through three games.

It's still early, but not too early to appreciate the need for urgency in response.

Game action photos from the Steelers' Week 3 game against the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium

"We gotta win some games," center Mason Cole emphasized. "Especially these big division games, we gotta win 'em, right?

"We're not hanging our heads by any means, but we gotta win these big road games. When we're in 'em and we don't close 'em out, it's tough."

Added cornerback Cam Sutton: "Losses are always tough to swallow in the business of winning."

Those reactions to Browns 29, Steelers 17 were as representative as any in the visitor's locker room at FirstEnergy Stadium.

The Steelers were leading at halftime, by the slimmest of margins at 14-13 but leading nonetheless.

A chance to build upon the advantage on the first possession of the second half slipped away in the wake of a penalty that wiped out a big play.

Their next possession, which commenced with the Steelers trailing, 16-14, threatened but came up empty when a deep ball to wide receiver Diontae Johnson that looked like a big play wasn't completed.

Another critical turning point occurred early in the fourth quarter.

Fourth-and-goal from the Steelers' 1-yard line.

Two extra offensive linemen reporting as eligible, including one, guard Hjalte Froholdt, lining up at fullback.

Chubb launches to go over the top behind pulling guard Joel Bitonio.

Defensive tackle Cam Heyward goes high to meet Chubb just before Bitonio arrives.

Linebacker Myles Jack goes low and gets ahold of Chubb on the way up.

The surge is thwarted initially but Chubb spins while being forced back and falls across the goal line.

He got the ball across and not a whole lot else, but it was enough.

It was the longest yard for Chubb on a night when he gained 113 of them, several in bunches.

And it was one of a handful of plays in the Browns game the Steelers weren't able to make when a play needed to be made.

Heyward spoke afterward about the Steelers' collective response to the Browns' ground game, which has a habit of gaining a lot of yards against a lot of teams.

"They got the job done, but I look inward," he maintained. "We need to be a lot better."

Sooner rather than later.

Advertising