5 Impactful Plays and Players From Week 2 Steelers Game

September 21, 2023

Tony Camino

Plays and Players That Stood Out From the Game Versus the Steelers


Monday night in Pittsburgh went how most games there have been recently, as the Browns found a way to lose despite shutting down the Steeler’s offense. The defense shined on all levels yet again, and they look to be every bit as advertised through two weeks. Offensively, the devastating loss of Nick Chubb is going to be difficult to overcome, but the passing game didn’t come through on Monday to save them. Here are five plays from Monday night in Pittsburgh that stood out


Grant Delpit Interception

Two weeks in, the Browns’ defensive MVP might be Grant Delpit, who put together another outstanding showing on Monday. He got started early and often, with a huge stand here on third down after the pick-six and Browns’ field goal.

The Steelers are running a simple triple-slant concept here with a backside hitch. The Browns are in some sort of cover three, and Delpit is in the box, playing the role of a hook dropper. The one-high shell makes the Steelers think the Browns are running pure man coverage, making a triple-slant play a great call.


Delpit is purely reading and reacting to the eyes of the QB, and he does a fantastic job of moving with every eye movement during the snap. Pickett looks left, and Delpit opens his hips toward where his shoulder is pointing, allowing him to jump the slant behind him and make a terrific interception.

Following a huge momentum shift like a first-play pick-six on the road, the ability of the defense to get a stop and a turnover without allowing a first down right after is crucial. The Browns’ offense somewhat recovered just before this, managing a field goal, and the Browns’ defense responded in the best possible way, setting the team up for a score moments after a tragic turnover.


Shelby Harris & JOK TFL

In this play, the Steelers are running an outside zone, where every lineman zone blocks to their right, and the QB and RB execute a fast flow on the handoff to force the RB to stay flat and get outside. JOK is lined up as the 10 backers, set up right in the A-gap


Aligned in a three-technique on the outside hip of the guard, Shelby Harris does an amazing job on his get-off and blasting through the Steelers’ line. Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah does a great job avoiding traffic, then sliding under the linemen and avoiding the block to get into the backfield. Harris couldn’t make the tackle, but his presence slowed the runner down and blew up the play. JOK can then come in cleanly and make an easy tackle for loss to put the Steelers behind the chains.

The defensive line has been great through two games, and they have really made their impact on multiple levels. The increased pushback allows for backers to play free and fast to make plays like this one, and it’s a beautiful sight to see. More run defense like this going forward will make the defense a headache to game plan against.


Watson and Cooper connect to get out of the endzone on 3rd down

Backed up late in the game, the Browns faced a crucial third-down situation where they needed to convert just to flip the field and make their offense work. The Browns recognized man coverage across the board and saw that Amari Cooper would be isolated on the outside with no safety help. The play is complemented by a backside post and a backside dig, with Elijah Moore releasing from the backfield as a checkdown, and David Njoku blocking and releasing in case Watson is flushed out to his right. The Steelers are blitzing the linebacker, meaning the ball needs to be out sooner or Watson has to buy some time.

Watson stands tall under pressure and delivers a perfectly placed ball to Cooper, who makes a massive catch to get the offense out of their own endzone. This is a great sign, and the connection between these two was evident throughout the game. With more time and a greater dedication to playing from the gun, I think the passing game can get back on track because of flashes like these.

Although a fumble on this drive ruined all the field position that was earned on this play, converting those types of situations late in games is what great teams do to win games. While the fumble that led to six was the backbreaker, avoiding a fumble on this drive would have kept them away from that situation because the hard work was already done.


3rd down run stuff with the game on the line

The Browns somehow found themselves trailing in the game at this point, despite the defense not giving up the go-ahead score. On third and one with just over two minutes left on the clock, a first down would have gone a long way toward closing this one out without giving the offense another chance. Ogbo Okoronkwo is lined up in a seven-technique outside the tackle, and Anthony Walker is lined up as a 40 backer head up on the tackle.

The Steelers are running a simple zone option here, where Pickett is reading Okoronkwo to decide whether to hand it off or keep it for the yard. Okoronkwo’s job is to drive to the back hip of the QB so he can play the RB from behind if he gives it but also force the QB outside if he keeps it. Walker is working completely vertically upfield, so if the QB keeps it, he’s right there to make the play.


Both guys do their jobs to perfection here, and Pickett is forced outside into Walker, who finishes the tackle with ease behind the line to gain. This is a significant step for the Browns’ defense and shows why this team will stick around in games this year. Not only will they hold opposing offenses to a few points, but they will come up with timely stops to give their offense as many chances as possible to get the job done.


Blown play results in game-changing TD

The single play that completely shifted the game the most was the 2nd down fumble that resulted in a TJ Watt touchdown, giving the Steelers the lead in the fourth quarter. Following the game, Watt said they knew this was a pass play. The Browns came out under center and started identifying assignments, with Watson confirming at the line. That hadn’t happened at all for run plays, as they typically just ID the MIKE and have their rules off of that.

The Browns are running a play-action fake here where the QB and the RB are the only ones who sell the run, in hopes of holding the linebacker to create an opportunity for a throw behind him. If the edge rushers didn’t know it was a pass, Highsmith would have been responsible for the C gap to the left of Jed Wills. Since he knew it was going to be a pass, he could completely abandon his gap and work upfield to apply pressure on the QB.


The blown fake results in Watson having zero time, with pressure coming right after the play fake, and the ball is jarred free for a crushing fumble recovery touchdown. The wide view shows how the route concept was a good one, and Donovan Peoples-Jones would have come open had there been enough time.

This play highlights the need for the offense to get on the same page, and the playcalling needs to be less predictable, especially against familiar opponents late in the game. After all the snaps against Stefanski’s offense, it was easy for Watt to figure out that it was a pass and completely disrupt the play. While the concepts seemed to work on multiple occasions, everything else needs to come together to help the play come to fruition.


Recap

Monday night was a brutal loss regardless of the outcome, and blowing the lead like that made it even worse. The defense continues to show great signs moving forward, but the passing game has to improve for this team to reach its goals. It starts with the coach and QB finding what works best for them, and time will only tell if this unit as a whole can be productive in 2023. Despite the setbacks, the team remains resilient, and their determination to overcome challenges will be a defining factor in their season’s success.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Sign Up For Our Newsletter

If you're a fan of Cleveland sports and want to stay up-to-date with the latest news, scores, and insights on your favorite teams, signing up for the Cleveland sports newsletter is a no-brainer.

Copyright © 2024 Believe In The Land

threads icon