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3 Big Takeaways: Browns offense, defense showed bright spots moving forward

WR Amari Cooper and RB Jerome Ford had big games while the defense held Pittsburgh to 12 points

takeways week 2

The Browns lost their first regular season game in a 26-22 disappointing defeat to the Steelers on Monday night.

Here are three takeaways from the Monday Night Football showdown.

WR Amari Cooper strong in passing game, one bright spot of offense in the run game

During the Browns two preseason games in which the starters played, the goal was for the offense to keep things "operational," meaning avoiding turnovers and bad penalties.

On Monday night against the Steelers, the offense committed four turnovers – two of which were returned for touchdowns and resulted in 14 points scored by the Steelers' defense. They committed eight penalties for 81 yards, which killed multiple offensive drives.

Ahead of their Week 3 matchup against the Titans at Cleveland Browns Stadium, the offense needs to return to its operational mindset. Despite the need for several fixes in practice this week, Monday's bright spots provide a solid foundation to build upon.

After being a game-time decision after injuring himself in practice Saturday, WR Amari Cooper showed to be a reliable option for QB Deshaun Watson. Cooper caught seven passes for 90 yards and had a few clutch catches.

In the fourth quarter, on third-and-6 and the ball on their 5-yard line, Watson threw a high pass toward the left sideline to Cooper. Despite being closely guarded by the Steelers' defense, Cooper caught the ball while getting one foot inbounds before tapping a second one inbounds. He landed out of bounds on his third step, having already gained 18 yards. The Steelers initially contested the call, but the officials confirmed that the play was good.

However, the brightest spot from Monday was the running game, which continued to be very encouraging this season.

RB Nick Chubb was on his way to having another monster performance for the second game in a row, rushing for 64 yards on 10 carries. When he went out due to a knee injury early in the second quarter, RB Jerome Ford stepped in immediately, setting a career-high with 106 rushing yards, including a 69-yard run. He also recorded a 3-yard touchdown reception on his first career catch. He finished with three receptions for 25 yards and 131 scrimmage yards.

"Jerome, as we've told you guys all along, he studies hard, knows what to do, runs hard," head coach Kevin Stefanski said. "There's a reason we like him. There's a reason he is a big part of what we do, and obviously, his role will increase. I think he is ready for that."

Check out photos of the Browns against the Steelers in Week 2

Defense played well for second week of regular season

Don't be fooled by the final score - the Browns defense dominated the Steelers offense, forcing two turnovers and putting their own offense in excellent field position. During the first quarter, the Steelers offense only managed to gain 19 total yards, resulted in a field goal, and failed to convert on two third-down attempts.

The Pittsburgh offense failed to convert five out of six third-down attempts and had to punt on their last four offensive series. The Browns defense limited the Steelers to 12 points.

The defense would like to have had more sacks, as they only had two, but they managed to rush QB Kenny Pickett by having nine quarterback hurries in the game.

"As far as getting the stops we needed to, we got that done, but we need to get those takeaways," DE Myles Garrett said. "If we get our hands on the ball, then we have to be able to come up with it or score with it."

Depth at running back takes hit with loss of Nick Chubb

Chubb sustained a gruesome knee injury during Monday night's game early in the second quarter. ABC opted not to broadcast close-up replays of the incident.

Watson handed the ball off to the tailback, and Steelers S Minkah Fitzpatrick tackled after running into a group of defenders. Moments later, Chubb could not stand up even with his teammate's help. He grimaced and writhed in pain while gripping his left knee.

Following the game, head coach Kevin Stefanski anticipated that Chubb's season was over. Tuesday confirmed that and said Chubb would undergo season-ending surgery.

"Nick has a very significant knee injury, which you feel for the person," Stefanski said. "He is a great football player as we know, but he is an even better person. So, we will support him every step along the way."

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