While it may seem like you are Bill Murray, and you are trapped in an endless loop of recurring Groundhog Days, this is actually real life. The Steelers beat the Browns. Again. Ho hum.
Beating the Browns is becoming so routine that it’s not even enjoyable anymore (okay, maybe it IS still enjoyable). Sure the Steelers and Browns are a legendary rivalry. Sure they’ve been playing each other since the dawn of time. Yes, the two cities are only 114 miles apart, which leads to a natural rivalry. But let’s face it, after 10 straight wins, the shine is off of this rivalry. If most Steelers fans were honest, they’d probably admit that they hate the Baltimore Ravens more than they hate the Browns. I know that sounds like blasphemy, but it’s true. When we play the hated Ravens, the outcome is always in doubt. When we play the Browns, well……….
For those of you who missed the first of the Steelers’ two semi-annual Browns beatings, here is a brief recap:
The Steelers beat the Browns 10-6 in their first of two meetings this year. The teams had to deal with winds that gusted up to 50 MPH during this wet, rainy game in Cleveland. The Steelers established their dominance early on defense. During the 1st half, the Browns had to punt on their first 4 drives. Then, on their next two drives, Derek Anderson threw two consecutive interceptions. This led to the Browns going to their locker room at halftime to a chorus of boos from the frustrated Browns fans in the stadium.
Things didn’t change much in the second half, although the Browns did manage to sustain two long drives near the end of the game. Momentum seemed to be shifting in the Browns direction, but the Steelers’ defense, and bad play calling by Romeo Crennel, forced the Browns to settle for two field goals.
The second Browns field goal was particularly surprising. With the Browns trailing 10-3 late in the game, Crennel chose to kick a field goal rather than go for a first down, even though the Browns had been enjoying offensive success, and the clock was working against them. A field goal would have only made it 10-6, which would have still required the Browns to score another touchdown in order to win. By going for the touchdown, they would have only required a field goal in order to win the game. But Crennel is an NFL coach, and I’m not, so who am I to question his judgment?
On the offensive side of the ball, Ben Roethlisberger’s shoulder was still sore from the injury that he sustained against the Texans. That, combined with gusting winds, led the Steelers to focus on the run. Roethlisberger did pass for 186 yards, including a touchdown pass to Hines Ward. However, the winds made for less-than-ideal passing conditions.
Willie Parker ran for his second consecutive 100 yard game, gaining 105 yards on 28 carries. This is particularly good news since there were doubts coming into the season about how Parker would recover from the broken leg that ended his season last year. Parker’s second consecutive 100+ yard performance has put any lingering doubts to rest.
Another good sign for the Steelers was DE Aaron Smith’s performance. Smith was stout against the run, and he also managed to sack Derek Anderson twice. This is particularly impressive since in Dick LeBeau’s 3-4 defense, the linebackers accumulate most of the sacks.
Despite many experts picking the Browns to win the AFC North this year, they are off to an 0-2 start. Meanwhile, the Steelers are 2-0, and in first place in the AFC North after beating the Cleveland Browns……… again.