3 Cleveland Browns to blame after loss to Steelers without Nick Chubb

The Cleveland Browns took a rough loss to the rival Pittsburgh Steelers on Monday night and also lost Nick Chubb to a gruesome season-ending injury.
September 18, 2023; Pittsburgh, PA; Browns QB Deshaun Watson during Cleveland's Week 2 loss to the Steelers
September 18, 2023; Pittsburgh, PA; Browns QB Deshaun Watson during Cleveland's Week 2 loss to the Steelers / Cooper Neill/GettyImages
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Coming off a dominant Week 1 win over the Cincinnati Bengals in the "Battle of Ohio," the Cleveland Browns entered their Week 2 Monday Night Football matchup with the rival Pittsburgh Steelers hoping to start a season 2-0 for the first time in three decades.

No, seriously. The last time the Browns were 2-0 was 1993, all the way back when Bill Belichick was still the head coach and Nick Saban was the defensive coordinator.

Sadly for the Cleveland faithful, however, the Browns failed to end their historic drought as they took a 26-22 defeat. But the final score wasn't even the team's biggest loss of the night, as Cleveland also lost four-time Pro Bowl running back Nick Chubb to a gruesome season-ending knee injury.

And just how gruesome was it? ABC wouldn't even show the replay. Yeah, that's how nasty it was.

But losing Chubb early in the second quarter certainly wasn't why the Browns lost this football game. Truth be told, backup Jerome Ford stepped up and had a phenomenal game, rushing for 106 yards on just 16 carries.

You can't really blame the Browns' defense either, as Jim Schwartz's unit held the Pittsburgh offense in check most of the night, minus that 71-yard connection between Kenny Pickett and George Pickens, of course.

So, who should Cleveland fans blame? Let's take a look.

David Njoku

I almost feel bad for including David Njoku on this list, but we have to start somewhere, right? And let's not pretend his fourth-quarter fumble didn't change the momentum of the game.

Heading into the final frame, the Browns had easily been the better team in the second half. They'd retaken the lead in the third on a 75-yard touchdown drive and were once again marching down the field as the final frame began.

Starting from its own five-yard line, the Cleveland offense had gained close to 50 yards and knocked five minutes off the clock in an attempt to put the game out of reach. But with 10:35 remaining, Njoku was stripped of the football after taking a 13-yard pass from Deshaun Watson, giving the Steelers great field position.

Now, I know what you're thinking. On the ensuing possession, Pittsburgh went three-and-out and punted. But up to that point, the Steelers were flat and had nothing to get overly excited about in the second half. That fumble changed things.

In addition, without Njoku's error, which came on a lengthy third-down attempt, the Browns wouldn't have started their next drive deep in their own territory. And it was that field position that allowed T.J. Watt to score the go-ahead touchdown as he was so close to the end zone.

So, again, Njoku's fumble mattered. Moving on.