Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin opened his postgame news conference following Thursday night’s 29-17 loss to Cleveland by tipping his cap to Nick Chubb and the Browns’ running game.
“I’d like to compliment Cleveland. They did what was required for victory, and you have to acknowledge that,” Tomlin said. “I thought they controlled the line of scrimmage, particularly in the second half. If you can’t slow down Chubb, you can’t beat this group. We kind of knew that and we didn’t get it done. We have to own the outcome and we will, so there’s not really a lot to talk about. We’ll look at this tape and learn, get better, and get better very fast.”
While Jacoby Brissett, Amari Cooper and David Njoku shined in the passing game, the victory was about Chubb’s ability to churn out yards, move the chains and keep the clock moving. Chubb generated 113 rushing yards on 23 carries and scored the game-sealing touchdown on fourth-and-1.
“I thought they controlled the game, man. They possessed the ball. Nick Chubb controlled the game,” Tomlin said. “He was running through arm tackles and things of that nature, getting yards after contact. It wasn’t good enough.”
Thursday marked Chubb’s 15th game with 100-plus rush yards and at least one touchdown since he entered the league in 2018 (second-most in that span). His 24 100-plus rushing games since 2018 are one more than Derrick Henry entering Sunday (next closest is Ezekiel Elliott and Dalvin Cook with 18 each).
“Nick Chubb is one of the best backs in the league, man,” Steelers linebacker Alex Highsmith said. “You have to bring it when you tackle him, and we did not do that enough tonight. We know we have to do better in that area. We can’t just be talking about it, there has to be action. We have a long week ahead of us. We will review the film and get back to a long week on Monday and get back to it.”
The Browns have rushed for 170-plus yards in four consecutive games dating back to last season and are averaging a whopping 190.7 rush yards per game this season.
“We felt like Nick would have another good day today,” Brown coach Kevin Stefanki said. “He felt confident I think in a lot of the run schemes. He gives you an honest day’s work. He ran hard. He gets stronger as the game wears on. Part of that, you have to attribute to (RB) Kareem (Hunt) coming in there and taking the workload. That 1-2 punch, we have talked about it. It is 1A and 1B.”
The Browns’ offensive line opened holes versus at T.J. Watt-less Steelers defense, but Chubb’s ability to break tackles turned 3-yard gains into 8-yard gains. The RB finished with +40 rushing yards over expected, per Next Gen Stats, and leads the NFL with +104 RYOE in 2022, entering Sunday’s slate.
“They did what they wanted to,” Steelers safety Minkah Fitzpatrick said. “What they wanted to do was give Chubb the ball, and he ran over 100 yards. When you let a guy like that do what he wants, they will win the game.”