Sep 18, 2023; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi (99) sacks Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watcon (4) during the first quarter at Acrisure Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports Credit: Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

It would have been hard to imagine the Cleveland Browns’ matchup with the Pittsburgh Steelers on Monday Night Football going worse.

In the second quarter, Nick Chubb suffered a season-ending knee injury so gruesome that ESPN opted not to show a single replay. Despite their star running back’s absence, the Browns entered the fourth quarter with a 22-19 lead and were just seven minutes away from what would’ve been the franchise’s first 2-0 start to a season since 1993.

That would never come to fruition, however, as Alex Highsmith’s strip-sack of Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson resulted in a T.J. Watt fumble return for a touchdown and ultimately a 26-22 Steelers victory. Watson finished the game going 22-for-40 for 235 yards, one touchdown, one interception and two fumbles — a disastrous outing for a quarterback Cleveland paid a historic price to acquire (not to mention, the P.R. hit the team and fanbase took in acquiring a player with more than two dozen accusations of sexual misconduct).

Suffice to say, there was plenty to discuss on Cleveland sports talk radio on Tuesday morning. On 92.3 The Fan’s The Ken Carman Show with Anthony Lima, the co-hosts dissected Watson’s disappointing play, prompting Carman into a rant.

“This is what I’m talking about when I’m talking about scapegoating,” a passionate Carman yelled. “I can’t allow it to happen. They gotta win on Sunday. They have to do it. I cannot go back to this. I cannot allow it to happen. This is part of what I’m saying about ‘fans should demand more.’ I am sick and tired of finding people to blame over a talented football team. Damn it. They have talent on the team. ‘Ken, they’re not better than Tennessee.’ Yes, they are better than the Tennessee Titans. They are better than the Titans. You don’t want to say that because you’re mad, but you know they’re better than the Titans.

“And if they lose [in Week 3], guess what? You’re going to get out-coached. We’ll throw another log on the fire then. Oh, and then the quarterback probably won’t have played as well again. I’m tired of looking for the excuse. I’m tired of looking for the scapegoat. If it was all on Nick Chubb, then the quarterback sucks. That’s what it is. If the team can’t get past the running back getting hurt, then you ain’t worth a damn anyway. He’s wonderful. He’s a legend. We all love him and I’m going to miss him more than a lot of people out there. But let’s call it what it is with this group.”

Down the dial on 850 ESPN Cleveland’s The Really Big Show, host Tony Rizzo—who’s been more willing to make excuses for Watson—opted instead to take aim at the city of Pittsburgh. After taking a team of hosts and reporters to the Steel City for the game—and Tuesday morning’s broadcast—Rizzo vowed to never return to the city due to the Browns’ bad luck there.

“Done! You ain’t gonna see me in Pittsburgh ever again,” Rizzo said. “I don’t care if they play the Super Bowl here. I am done. I am done coming to this town. I am done going to that stadium. I am done walking home with those fans. I am done. I don’t know what it is. I don’t know whether you believe in curses. I’m a Sicilian. We call it the ‘Malocchio.’ OK? The Malocchio is on the Browns here, man. 21-1 in the last 22 regular-season games? Stop. I’m done. I’m done. I don’t want to see it blow up like Batman whatever, but I am done. Done. Done.”

As Carman noted, Browns fans won’t have to wait long to get the taste of Monday’s loss out of their mouths, as Cleveland will host the Titans on Sunday. But regardless of the outcome of the Week 3 game, there will surely be plenty to talk about, once again, on Monday morning.

[92.3 The Fan, ESPN Cleveland]

About Ben Axelrod

Ben Axelrod is a veteran of the sports media landscape, having most recently worked for NBC's Cleveland affiliate, WKYC. Prior to his time in Cleveland, he covered Ohio State football and the Big Ten for outlets including Cox Media Group, Bleacher Report, Scout and Rivals.