CLEVELAND -- The Cleveland Browns proved ill-equipped to block blitzing defenders in Sunday’s 24-9 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, and that resulted in eight sacks of quarterbacks Cody Kessler and Josh McCown.
Six players registered sacks against the Browns, led by the 2.5 by Stephon Tuitt, and Pittsburgh’s top two tacklers, Ryan Shazier and Lawrence Timmons, each tallied one apiece. Shazier added a forced fumble that was recovered by nose tackle Javon Hargrave in the end zone for a touchdown.
Prior to the win over the Browns, the Steelers had just 13 sacks on the entire season.
“It is a unit issue, obviously,” Browns coach Hue Jackson said. “It is not one guy’s issue. It is a unit issue. We all have a part in it. The receivers have a part in it. The linemen have a part in it. The backs have a part in it. The tight ends have a part in it and obviously, the quarterback. We all have a part in it. We just have to do it better.”
When asked specifically about the performance of second-year center Cam Erving, Jackson again focused on the group rather than the individual.
“I don’t think it was just one man’s issue,” Jackson said. “It was a unit issue. Cam obviously has a part in that, as well as all of the other linemen too. We have to continue to work and improve and get better. I know he will do that this week.”
Kessler exited the loss to the Steelers after the third quarter of play due to a concussion, his second head injury during the regular season.
On the final play of the third quarter, Kessler took a snap from under center at the Browns’ 25-yard line and avoided the initial pass rush by escaping to the right of the formation and launching a 16-yard pass to rookie wide receiver Corey Coleman.
However, as Kessler let go of the ball, he was pulled down by Shazier and leveled by Timmons. The hit drove Kessler’s head into the ground and he was finished for the game.
The Browns went through six quarterbacks during the first five games of the regular season, and continue to rotate the healthier signal-callers for those ailing with injuries.
“I thought some players were just trying to do too much,” Jackson said. “I think I understand where it is coming from and it is coming from a good place, but I just think we have to be careful of just trying to do more than what we need to do.
“We just need to do our job. That is when you know a team is pressing, and that is what I mean by taking a step back. When you start pressing, you are looking for ways to make it happen, and the only thing you really have to do as a player is just do your job and do your job the best you can do it.”