Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin opened his postgame news conference following Thursday night’s 29-17 loss to Cleveland by tipping his cap toward Nick Chubb and the Browns’ running game.
“I’d like to congratulate Cleveland. They did what it took to win, and to their credit,” Tomlin said. “I thought they controlled the line of scrimmage, particularly in the second half. If you can’t stop Chubb, you can’t beat this group. We knew it and we didn’t. We have to own the result and we will, so there’s no So much to talk about. We’re going to watch this movie and we’re going to learn and get better and get better very quickly.”
While Jacoby Brissett, Amari Cooper and David Njoku all shined in the passing game, the victory was due to Chubb’s ability to generate yards, move the chains and keep the clock ticking. Chubb generated 113 rushing yards on 23 carries and scored the game-clinching TD on fourth-and-1.
“I thought they controlled the game, man. They owned the ball. Nick Chubb controlled the game,” Tomlin said. “He was going through arm tackles and things of that nature, getting yards after contact. He wasn’t good enough.”
Thursday marked Chubb’s 15th game with 100-plus rushing yards and at least one touchdown since entering the league in 2018 (second-most in that span). His 24 games of 100+ rushing yards since 2018 are one more than Derrick Henry entering Sunday (next closest are Ezekiel Elliott and Dalvin Cook with 18 apiece).
“Nick Chubb is one of the best running backs in the league, man,” Steelers linebacker Alex Highsmith said. “You have to bring him up when you tackle him, and we didn’t 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’ve got a long week ahead of us. movie and we’ll go back to a long week on Monday and we’ll go back to that.
The Browns have rushed for more than 170 yards in four straight games since last season and are averaging a whopping 190.7 rushing yards per game this season.
“We feel like Nick is going to have another good day today,” Brown’s trainer Kevin Stefanki said. “He felt confident, I think, in a lot of the running schemes. He gives you an honest day’s work. He ran hard. He gets stronger as the game goes on. Part of that, you have to put it down to (RB) Kareem ( Hunt) going in there and taking the workload. That 1-2 hit, we’ve talked about it. It’s 1A and 1B.”
The Browns’ offensive line opened up holes against the TJ 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 above expectations, per Next Gen Stats, and leads the NFL with +104 RYOE in 2022, entering Sunday’s list.
“They did what they wanted,” Steelers safety Minkah Fitzpatrick said. “What they wanted to do was give Chubb the ball, and he ran 100-plus yards. When you let a guy like that do what he wants, he’s going to win the game.”