Plenty at stake for Steelers, Browns in AFC North hierarchy – TribLIVE

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Steelers coach Mike Tomlin has actually referred to the video game pitting the 4-0 Steelers versus the 4-1 Browns as a “first-class match,” and his gamers have actually copied the phrase to magnify its value.

The Steelers haven’t gotten off to this type of start in 41 years, and one would need to go back 26 seasons– to the initial version of the franchise– to discover the last time the Browns were 4-1.

Contributing to its importance is the loser could fall back the 4-1 Baltimore Ravens in the department pecking order.

” When we begin playing AFC North football, Coach T constantly stresses how that is very important and how you need to rule the division to get to the playoffs,” said cornerback Joe Haden, who spent his first 7 seasons with the Browns before joining the Steelers in 2017. “With the Browns being so excellent and the Ravens likewise, this division being so great … it’s going to be interesting.

” There’s a whole lot going on, however I think it’s going to be an actually, actually intense football game.”

Amongst the things “going on” are these subplots:

History lesson

The Browns are attempting to break a losing streak in Pittsburgh that dates 2003, the last time the Steelers had a losing record. Which implies they have actually never ever beaten Ben Roethlisberger, who was at Miami (Ohio) that fall, at Heinz Field.

The Steelers are 35-7-1 against the Browns because Cleveland went back to the NFL in 1999, and Tomlin has a 21-5 record in the turnpike series. The Browns likewise are the only team not to win the AFC North since it was set up in 2002.

” This is AFC North football, and you can say what you desire about past records and times played, but those are previous years,” Roethlisberger stated. “They are a good football team, truly great. They’ve got an actually good defense. A lot of those people– I took a look at their lineup, they only have two men that have 10 years of experience in the league.

” It’s not like these guys have been playing us for years and years and years and are stressing over how lots of times the Steelers have actually won.”

Clean slate

Freddie Kitchens ended a streak of 6 Browns coaches, dating to 2008, who were fired within a day of losing to the Steelers in the 2nd meeting of a season. Kitchens had the Browns in contention for the No. 6 playoff berth when the teams met at Heinz Field in December. At 5-6, the Browns were a game behind the Steelers, however Kitchens could not get them any closer. The Steelers widened the gap with a 20-13 victory.

Poor Kitchens didn’t make it beyond his first season in Cleveland. He was fired instantly after wrapping a 6-10 record.

Like so a lot of his predecessors, first-year coach Kevin Stefanski does not have a firm grasp of the competition, although it appears like he might be around enough time to learn.

” You probably have to go through it as soon as,” Stefanski stated. “I know it’s important to our fans and to the fans in Pittsburgh. It’s a big game. Two really good teams are playing. I get all that. We’re concentrated on playing an excellent football team and dipping into our finest.”

Offered the Browns’ start, optimism appears to be higher this season than after Cleveland won the very first matchup, 21-7, in 2015 at FirstEnergy Stadium.

” It’s going to be enjoyable entering into this video game,” stated Browns offensive lineman Chris Hubbard, a previous Steeler. “I think for the a lot of part the intensity of this video game is going to be an all-time high. We’re a various unit this year, we have a various team. We’re a really hungry group this year.”

Head video games

The most popular story, naturally, includes Myles Garrett’s first game versus the Steelers because he conked quarterback Mason Rudolph on his unprotected head with Rudolph’s helmet near the end of the first match last season.

Garrett was suspended for the rematch a couple of weeks later at Heinz Field and enters into this game as a defensive player of the year prospect with five sacks. He’ll be charged with bringing down Roethlisberger this year while Rudolph watches from the sideline.

Both groups have actually downplayed the reunion, accepting the value of the video game at hand.

” We’re entirely past it,” linebacker Vince Williams stated. “We have enough issues to deal this year. We’re not looking back. We’re not looking in the rear-view mirror about what happened in 2015.”

QB health

Because returning from right elbow surgery, Roethlisberger has actually gotten off to the very best start of his 17-year profession, tossing 10 goal passes versus one interception with a career-best 110.4 passer ranking.

While Roethlisberger has actually removed most doubts about his tossing capability, Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield is handling bruised ribs from the Week 5 video game versus Indianapolis.

Mayfield promised to play, saying “Momma didn’t raise no wuss.” That was prior to he was restricted in practice the whole week and was listed as questionable against the Steelers.

Heyward made it be known that the Steelers defense will make its existence felt if Mayfield matches up for the game.

” As a D-line and as a defense, you wish to make sure the quarterback feels you,” Heyward stated. “You wish to make sure he’s thinking of the rush. … He’s going to come out there and attempt to be a warrior for his team, but it’s up to us to make him think about his injury during the game.”

Cameron Heyward had an intriguing way today of explaining the Pittsburgh Steelers’ AFC North face-off Sunday with the Cleveland Browns.

” I know it’s not a late-night video game,” Heyward stated, “but it’s a prime-time video game.”

By definition, it actually isn’t. The NFL schedule makers decided versus bending this match between department contenders to a late-afternoon or night-time television slot. Kickoff will start at 1 p.m. as initially planned.

Still, the All-Pro protective lineman’s point is well taken. CBS believed enough of the pairing to send its top broadcast team of Jim Nantz, Tony Romo and “functional zone” reporter Tracy Wolfson to Heinz Field.

” When we begin playing AFC North football, Coach T constantly highlights how that is crucial and how you have to rule the department to get to the playoffs,” said cornerback Joe Haden, who invested his first seven seasons with the Browns before joining the Steelers in 2017. It’s a big game.” It’s going to be fun going into this video game,” stated Browns offensive lineman Chris Hubbard, a former Steeler. “I think for the a lot of part the intensity of this video game is going to be an all-time high. Garrett was suspended for the rematch a couple of weeks later at Heinz Field and comes into this video game as a defensive gamer of the year prospect with 5 sacks.

Joe Rutter is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can call Joe by e-mail at jrutter@triblive.com!.?.! or by means of Twitter. Categories: Sports

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