Pittsburgh Steelers and Cleveland Browns: Rivalry Renewed?
The Pittsburgh Steelers will face off against the Cleveland Browns for the 124th time in the regular season on Sunday afternoon. But there’s something different about this particular game. Not only are the two teams wrapping up their season series earlier than they have been, but the Steelers enter the game as underdogs for just the fourth time in the last 20 years. Could this be a revival of the classic Steelers and Browns rivalry?
The Steelers have dominated the Browns in the series history, especially as of late. The Steelers lead the series 68-57, which includes two post season victories going back to 1950. In the last 32 meetings since the Browns were resurrected as a franchise in 1999, the Steelers have won all but five games. Ben Roethlisberger is 18-1 all-time against the Browns and he’s had tremendous success going back to his home-state of Ohio. I like the term “resurrection” for how the Browns franchise came back. Makes me think of them as zombies, which of course would make Roethlisberger the “Daryl Dixon” to Cleveland’s “The Walking Dead”.
The biggest factor in what makes this game different is the record of the two teams, which is also directly related to the time of year they’re wrapping up the season series. The Steelers are currently 3-2 while the Browns are 2-2. The usual scenario when these two teams finish up against each other involves the Browns having been eliminated from playoff contention for many weeks already. Even Browns players acknowledge this.
"“Typically when we play the Steelers the second time around since I’ve been here we’re already out of the playoffs and Pittsburgh is resting their players because they’ve got a first-round bye. I think this is a nice change of pace from those types of lopsided games that we’ve been involved in in the past. I know there’s going to be a great atmosphere on Sunday because obviously it’s a great rivalry that goes back tons and tons of years. And to have teams that are evenly matched, I think it’s good for the rivalry.” – Browns OT Joe Thomas"
The season began with these two teams facing off against one another and the talk was more about whether or not the injection of Johnny Manziel would be the ingredient needed to revive this rivalry. Brian Hoyer’s play through the first quarter of the season has all but silenced those kinds of notions. This game will be intense instead of an afterthought because these two teams still have a chance to have a successful season and knocking the other one off could be the kick starter needed to propel them forward through the meat of their respective remaining schedule of games.
Aside from the records and the rematch nature of this game it’s going to be an exciting one simply because of the way these two teams match up against one another. The Browns are coming in with a horrid defense against the run and pass while the Steelers are trying to figure out why they can throw up tons of yardage in the air and on the ground but can’t convert them to touchdowns. The Steelers have recently enjoyed some staunch defense against the run, while the Browns are running the ball exceptionally well. This game could really come down to the final minute just as the first game did. Hopefully without the blowing of a 27-3 halftime lead by the Steelers again. Even Ben Roethlisberger recognizes what’s at stake with this game.
"“This is as big of a game, probably, in Cleveland in a while. Just because of their record, our record, us coming in there, AFC North and the rivalry that is there. I anticipate it being a hostile environment, maybe like nothing I’ve seen up there before.” – Ben Roethlisberger"
I welcome back the rivalry because it doesn’t change my feelings about Cleveland. I still would like to drink their tears and rejoice in their misery. I don’t really need them to be more competitive in order to enjoy the rivalry more but I suppose, for TV-sake, it could be a little less lopsided competition-wise. However, that doesn’t mean I care to see Cleveland win any of these games. I can’t think of anything better than seeing Cleveland experience a revival of competitive football to their city only to have the Steelers be the one to force them to come crashing back down to earth in humiliating fashion.
What are your thoughts Steeler Nation? Are you ready for the Steelers and Browns competitive rivalry to make a comeback?