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After being traded to Cleveland from Dallas in the offseason, wide receiver Amari Cooper has found initial success with his new team, pairing up with Jacoby Brissett to lead the Browns to a 29-17 victory over the Steelers on Thursday night.
“I’m glad they did it,” Brissett told NFL Network Insider Tom Pelissero after the game. “I mean he’s been unbelievable, he’s one of the smartest, hardest-working players I’ve ever worked with, comes out here every week, every day working hard, putting in the work and it’s just a pleasure to play with him. I know that he wants to just continue to keep this going.”
Brissett and Cooper linked up for seven receptions and 101 yards on the night while connecting on two touchdown passes that propelled Cleveland over its AFC North rival. After a quiet first few drives from both teams, the Browns woke up with a 60-yard drive capped off by a 11-yard TD pass to Cooper. And then in a third-and-1 situation late in the game, Brissett again found his man for a 32-yard gain to set up an eventual go-ahead rushing touchdown from Nick Chubb.
Once the Cowboys traded Cooper to the Browns in March after he struggled in 2021, there were questions about how he would perform in Cleveland. But so far the 28-year-old has thrived in his new city, collecting a total of 219 yards receiving and back-to-back games with 100-plus yards so far. Though Cooper had a slower start in the season-opener, recording only three catches, his quarterback said the temporary lull was just because “he was just getting PI’d all the time.”
And head coach Kevin Stefanski echoed the praise of Cooper, saying to reporters that he was running out of adjectives to describe the dynamic receiver.
“I’m trying to find new ways to tell you guys how impressed I am with No. 2,” Stefanski said. “I mean he’s really, really smart, he’s a great teammate, runs every route imaginable … he’s so versatile, he’s such a big, physical receiver, he’s trustworthy. I really enjoy No. 2.”
Despite the offensive production coming from Cooper and Brissett, Cleveland almost found itself on the wrong end of a fourth-quarter comeback for the second week in a row, after Pittsburgh had a chance to recover an onside kick for an attempt at a game-winning drive. But unlike the Jets on Sunday, the Steelers could not pull off the onside kick and the Browns held on for the victory. Stefanski said for them to put the memory of the New York loss in the rear-view and be able to come back with a win was impressive, and said a lot about the attitude of the squad.
“I’m just proud of them, because that’s not an easy thing to bounce back from,” Stefanski said. “What I’m proud of with those guys is you can’t let a loss linger. And we won’t let this win linger either, but I’m proud of how they responded. You’ve got to be resilient.”
After a tough win over a division rival on a short week’s rest, the Browns will have a longer break ahead before they face the Falcons in Week 4, and see if they can keep the blooming offensive chemistry going.
“It just shows you the toughness of this team, the mental toughness of this team, the physical toughness,” Brissett said. “Coming off a short week, we knew it was going to be a 60-minute game, and we prepared for that, and it took every bit of it. So, happy with what we did today, and we’ll just keep building.”