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Since I was young, my family told me that I’m a Browns fan, and I have to strongly dislike the Pittsburgh Steelers because of the major rivalry between the two teams. However, as I’ve gotten older and watched multiple Browns-Steelers matchups, the concept of it being a rivalry has completely dissipated in my eyes.
“Big'' Ben Roethlisberger retired this past season after 18 seasons wearing the Black and Gold. He dominated the Browns throughout his career, winning 25 of 29 games (25-3-1) in the regular season against the Brown and Orange.The biggest win for the Browns came during the 2020 AFC Wildcard matchup in Pittsburgh when the Browns knocked off the Steelers 48-37 to secure their first playoff win in over 20 years. Roethlisberger's only two losses against the Browns in the regular season came on December 10th, 2009 (13-6) and October 12th, 2014 (31-10), with both occurring in northeast Ohio
When the incident between Mason Rudolph and Myles Garrett went down on Thursday Night Football in Week 11 of the 2019 season in Cleveland, a game in which the Browns won 21-7, it felt like that could have been the moment to reignite what felt like a lackluster “rivalry.” However, two weeks later, the Steelers defeated the Browns 20-13 in the “Steel City” behind quarterback Devlin “Duck” Hodges.
Other than the two games in 2019, Week 17 in 2020 and the Wildcard game the week after the 2020 Week 17 affair, games between the Browns and Steelers generally haven’t had any major implications for both teams. I would define major implications as the division title being on the line, a win and you’re in scenario or a playoff matchup.
This Sunday’s game has implications for the Steelers because they need to win and have the Miami Dolphins (against the New York Jets) and New England Patriots (against the Buffalo Bills) lose in order to get into the playoffs, but the Browns were officially eliminated from the playoff race following their 17-10 loss to the New Orleans Saints.
When the Baltimore Ravens (who I believe are the Browns’ biggest rival because they play more meaningful games than the Browns and Steelers) and the Steelers link up, those types of implications are usually in play for both squads. The game last week in Baltimore had significant implications, considering Pittsburgh needed to win in order to keep their slim playoff hopes alive while the Ravens needed to win in order to possibly set up a showdown with the Bengals for the AFC North title. Baltimore and Pittsburgh met in the 2008 AFC Championship game for the right to play the Arizona Cardinals in Super Bowl 43. There was the “Immaculate Extension” in 2016 with Antonio Brown where the AFC North title was on the line.
The Steelers lead the overall series against the Browns 79-62-1. The Browns beat the Steelers on Thursday Night Football 29-17 in Week 3 in the Dawg Pound this season, so Cleveland will be looking to sweep Pittsburgh for the first time since coming back to Cleveland in 1999.
Chuck Noll was the Steelers head coach from 1969 to 1991. Bill Cowher took over in 1992 and was Pittsburgh’s HC until 2007 after beating the Seattle Seahawks 21-10 in Super Bowl 40. Mike Tomlin has been the head man in Pittsburgh ever since. In that same period of time, the Browns have had way too many head coaches to name, but some of them include Eric Mangini, Romeo Crenel, Rob Chudzinski, Mike Pettine, Pat Shurmer, Freddie Kitchens, Hue Jackson and Kevin Stefanski.
Pittsburgh stuck with their head coaches, and they were rewarded with Super Bowls and playoff appearances. Cleveland hasn’t stuck with that formula in the slightest, as the Browns are seemingly changing head coaches every year or two, and no matter who's calling shots for Cleveland, they almost always never found a way to take down their enemies from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
The Browns-Steelers rivalry has been non-existent for several years now in my opinion. Perhaps it can be reignited on Sunday if Cleveland can somehow, someway find a way to leave Acrisure Stadium with a victory and give fans some reason for optimism heading into the 2023 season.