This should not be a trap game Thursday night for the Steelers
If there was ever a trap game for the Steelers in 2011, this is the one. Now, granted the Steelers have no business looking past any team in the NFL this year regardless of their record. A 9-3 record is something to be proud of but now is the time to get on and stay on a roll. That means you take care of business every week regardless of the opponent. Mike Tomlin said in his weekly press conference that the Steelers are looking only at the Browns and know full well what Josh Cribbs and that team is capable of from past experience.
As you'll see below, the Steelers have owned the rivalry in recent years but we need only look back to 2009 to see what the Browns are capable of when it comes to AFC North matchups.
However we know how this team can play down to their competition. Couple that with the fact that the 49ers game is on the horizon, arguably the biggest game left on the schedule. It's only human nature for a team to look at the Browns record and think this is going to be a win right out of the gate. You have to think that the coaches are preparing the team this week without overdoing it only 4 days rest, and the guys are in the right mindset of taking care of business. The Steelers play these divisional teams twice a year, every year so you have to wonder why anyone would even consider looking at the Browns as an easy win just based on their record. These games are usually pretty close.
Some interesting stats on this game:
-The Steelers lead the series overall: 62-56.
-Since the Browns return to the NFL in 1999, they have only beaten the Steelers 4 times.
-Cleveland has not swept the Steelers since 1988.
-Since 1988 the Steelers have swept the Browns 10 times. (Keep in mind during that time the Browns were not in the league for 3 years).
Despite Pittsburgh's domination of the Browns since their return to the league, there are plenty of indications that this rivalry is still one of the NFL's best:
- In a 2002 Wild Card playoff game at Heinz Field, it seemed the Browns were about to avenge their former playoff loss to the Steelers when they held a two-possession lead with five minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. But the Steelers staged perhaps the greatest postseason comeback in their history to take the lead with under a minute to go and end the new Browns' first postseason appearance.
- In 2004, Steelers LB Joey Porter and Browns RB William Green couldn't wait for the game to start— both players were ejected for a pregame fistfight while the teams were warming up.
- In the fourth quarter of a 41-0 mauling of the Browns in 2005, Steelers LB James Harrison stopped an unruly spectator who had run onto the field, body-slamming the brown-and-orange-clad fan to the ground in a moment that seemed to sum up the sort of day the Browns were having.
- In 2009, a 1-11 Browns team shocked the Steelers with a 13-6 win that ended Pittsburgh's 12-game winning streak against their historic rival. The loss also ended any realistic chance of the defending Super Bowl champions returning to the playoffs.