Orbiting Cleveland: The Browns’ big win and a tale of two teams


Pittsburgh Steelers v Cleveland BrownsHeading into Sunday, you could not find two more contrary teams than the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cleveland Browns. Consider the following.

The Steelers have not had a losing season since 2003. The Browns have not won more than five games since 2007.

The Steelers owned a 66-57 series advantage, had won the last four games in the series and lost just once in the last nine games against the Browns. The Browns have gone just 4-26 against the Steelers in the 2000 and 2010 decades.

Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is the definition of a franchise quarterback. The former first round draft pick is a two-time Super Bowl winner and owned an 18-1 record against the Browns prior to Sunday. Browns quarterback and Cleveland native Brian Hoyer is an undrafted player who has spent time on four NFL teams during his six-year career and entered the game with just eight career starts.

Now, just for fun, let’s look at some of the more “famous” scores from those 19 previous meetings with Roethlisberger and the Steelers.

  • November 14, 2004: Steelers 24, Browns 10
  • November 13, 2005: Steelers 34, Browns 21
  • December 24, 2005: Steelers 41, Browns 0
  • December 7, 2006: Steelers 27, Browns 7
  • September 9, 2007: Steelers 34, Browns 7
  • December 28, 2008: Steelers 31, Browns 0
  • October 17, 2010: Steelers 28, Browns 10
  • January 2, 2011: Steelers 41, Browns 9
  • December 30, 2012: Steelers 24, Browns 10
  • November 24, 2013: Steelers 27, Browns 11

For those keeping count, those 10 games mark 10 times that the Steelers have beaten the Browns by more than two touchdowns in the last 10 years.

But how exactly does that old sports cliché go?

“You’re only as good as your last game,” right?

So with that being said, here’s one more score for you.

  • October 12, 2014: Browns 31, Steelers 10

Given that cliché, the Browns look pretty damn good right about now.

I admit, before yesterday, I, like most Browns fans, was optimistic.

But as Browns fans, we know optimism is not a regular visitor to our realm of consciousness. Pessimism has been such a regular tenant over these last 20 years that it’s difficult to make room for anything else.

However, after Sunday, I think we can all say that the proverbial “monkey” is off our backs.

“Statement game” is another overused clichés that sports writers of America are enamored with, but it’s applicable here. You can pinpoint any Browns win since returning to the league, but perhaps none have ever meant more than this.

Even in 2007, when the Browns went 10-6 and were on the cusp of making the playoffs, the team could not hold off the Black and Gold.

On Sunday, the Browns delivered their fans a gift — a gift that was long overdue. If you understand this rivalry, you understand how it’s degenerated into something that’s a mixture of hatred and apathy.

Every Browns fan hates everything about a Steelers fan.

They hate the way a Steelers fan talks. They hate the way that they refer to the color “yellow” as “gold.” They hate that a Steelers fan will ridicule the criminals employed by other NFL teams, yet then defend a quarterback who has twice been accused of rape.

More than anything else, a Browns fan hates the fact that a Steelers fan simply does not care. The Browns have not been seen as real rivals for years, and a Steelers fan reminds us of that every chance he or she gets.

On countless times, Steelers fans have approached me with statements like, “Oh, I feel bad for you,” “That must really suck to be a Browns fan,” “Why do you do that to yourself?”

Of course, considering that my family’s roots are in Berea, Ohio, it’s quite clear why I “do this to myself.”

It’s my roots. It’s my nature. I don’t know how to do anything else.

In the October 13 issue of ESPN The Magazine, longtime Cleveland fan Josh Painting put it best when he said, “I get asked all the time, ‘Why are you a Cleveland fan?’ Why wouldn’t I be? I’m not going to root for Germany in the World Cup just because they’re better than the U.S.”

Painting’s comment is applicable for all of us. Being a Cleveland sports fan is a part of us, and we don’t want to be anything else regardless of how difficult that may be for Pittsburgh fans or anyone else to fathom.

Except now, more than ever, could it be that things are finally getting better? Is the tide starting to turn?

December 27 will mark the 50th anniversary of the Browns’ 27-0 victory over the Baltimore Colts in the 1964 NFL Championship Game. As we all know, it’s the last professional championship for any Cleveland sports team.

Are you superstitious? Just consider some of the things that have happened in Cleveland sports during the past couple years.

First, Terry Francona, two-time World Series winner with the Boston Red Sox, decides to return to baseball to manage the Cleveland Indians. The Tribe has now posted back-to-back winning seasons for the first time since the 2000 and 2001 seasons.

Then, this past July, LeBron James announced he was returning to the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Now, just yesterday, the Browns defeated the Steelers by 21 points.

If these are not signs of a possible sea change, then I dunno what is.

But the best thing about yesterday’s win was just how lopsided it was.

Roethlisberger completed just 50 percent of his passes to go along with one interception, and looked the part of a rather “old” 32-year-old.

“Old” is also a good adjective for the Steelers’ run defense, which allowed 158 yards on the ground against the Browns’ running backs Isaiah Crowell and Ben Tate.

In comparison, Brian Hoyer again looked poised and confident in the pocket. There is no panic in this individual.

Crowell and Tate ran with a purpose.

Tight end Jordan Cameron and wide receiver Miles Austin made their biggest catches of the season.

Yes, this was a “statement game,” but it’s a continuation of the statement the Browns have made every week since the second half of the Sept. 7 opener at Pittsburgh.

Consider this. Since falling behind 27-3 to the Steelers at halftime in the season opener, Cleveland has outscored Pittsburgh 55-13 in the proceeding six quarters.

These Browns are better than the Steelers. In fact, it’s not even close.

The season is still far from over, but be sure to take some time to enjoy this one. The Browns have already had plenty of memorable moments this year, but none have felt quite this good.

A 21-point win over the Steelers is long overdue for this town, but let’s hope it’s just the beginning.

After all, there’s something else out there that’s long overdue. Fifty years overdue to be exact.


2 thoughts on “Orbiting Cleveland: The Browns’ big win and a tale of two teams

  1. Pingback: 10 Orbservations: Manziel’s arm strength, the Browns’ tipping point, Mike Miller’s return, the Cavaliers’ blowout loss and the Gavin Floyd signing | Everybody Hates Cleveland

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