PITTSBURGH — The trimmings of a rivalry between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cleveland Browns have lingered even because the outcomes have grown remarkably one-sided.
Dangerous blood. Trash discuss. Emotionally charged video games. The one factor the long-running sequence has lacked for the higher a part of 1 / 4 century returns right this moment (1 p.m., CBS) when the unbeaten Steelers host the surging Browns. Precise stakes.
Pittsburgh is off to its finest begin in 41 years, however has gotten there by beating groups with a mixed report of 3-15-1. The Browns haven’t been this good a month into the season since Invoice Belichick was roaming the sidelines in one thing apart from a hoodie with the sleeves reduce off.
Sure, that is totally different. So totally different that Cleveland defensive finish Myles Garrett’s first go to to Pittsburgh since he ripped off Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph’s helmet and swung it at him final November shouldn’t be a serious a part of the narrative however merely exterior “noise” either side intend to tune out.
“What transpired doesn’t actually matter to me,” Steelers defensive sort out Cam Heyward mentioned.
The identical goes in Cleveland. There’s merely an excessive amount of on the road.
A 12 months in the past, the preseason hype practice surrounding the Browns disintegrated as Cleveland devolved right into a scorching mess that price then head coach Freddie Kitchens his job. Kevin Stefanski’s arrival has introduced a way of stability and professionalism to not point out a punishing working sport and an strategy that depends extra on accountability than swagger. The fixed drama the Browns couldn’t appear to flee in 2019 — drama that reached its peak with Garrett’s now notorious helmet swing — is gone. Largely.
“Myles is a good participant, an awesome particular person and an awesome teammate,” Browns working again Kareem Hunt mentioned. “You simply study so much going by way of conditions like that. You simply have to return prepared, neglect about all that stuff and do no matter you possibly can. This one is for Myles. This one is for Cleveland Browns followers. This one is for lots of issues.”
Respect being maybe on the high of the listing for a franchise that hasn’t reached the postseason in 18 years or gained in Pittsburgh in 17.
“As soon as once more, we aren’t nervous in regards to the previous,” Cleveland quarterback Baker Mayfield mentioned. “We’re nervous about proper now. The following sport is a very powerful one, and we have now an excellent division opponent we’re going up in opposition to of their home.”
A home the place the Steelers have handled Cleveland the best way Lucy treats Charlie Brown, eternally dangling the soccer in entrance of them earlier than pulling it away on the final second. Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has by no means misplaced to the Browns at Heinz Discipline and is off to a red-hot begin in his return from right-elbow surgical procedure that price him most of 2019. Roethlisberger, an Ohio native, is 23-2-1 all-time in opposition to the crew that bypassed him within the 2004 draft. Nonetheless, he’s cautious whereas dealing with Garrett, whose six sacks lead the NFL.
“You’ll be able to say what you need about previous data and occasions performed, however these are earlier years,” mentioned Roethlisberger, who has 10 landing passes in opposition to only one interception. “This can be a new soccer crew, new teaching employees, however they clearly have a brand new employees. We’re a brand new crew. They’re a brand new crew. They’re a superb soccer crew, actually good.”
Browns broad receiver Odell Beckham Jr. had his second destructive COVID-19 take a look at in 24 hours, clearing him to play in right this moment’s sport. He was refrained from Cleveland’s facility and didn’t observe for 2 days after feeling ailing Thursday and being despatched house. Consistent with NFL coronavirus protocol, he needed to twice take a look at destructive earlier than being allowed again.
The league has instructed groups to take away anybody exhibiting signs just like COVID-19 even when they’re attributable to a chilly or the flu.
The Browns listed Beckham as questionable and, whereas he didn’t observe, the three-time Professional Bowler participated in crew conferences remotely.
Beckham has had a robust begin in his second season with the Browns. He has 21 catches for 294 yards and three touchdowns. Beckham additionally had an electrifying 50-yard TD run that sealed a win in Dallas.
Mayfield was restricted in observe this week whereas nursing tender ribs. For Cleveland to drag off the upset, the offensive line might want to preserve Mayfield out of hurt’s means and do it whereas dealing with the crew that’s tied for the league lead in sacks with 20.
The group in entrance of Mayfield has been fairly regular up to now. Mayfield, who has been efficient on roll-out throws, has solely been sacked seven occasions and the 22 pressures allowed are a league-low.
“I consider in our guys, at the beginning, irrespective of who we face,” he mentioned. “Clearly, the problem with the Steelers protection is that we’re going to have ups and downs all through the sport. It’s not going to be excellent, and we all know that. That’s what comes with these difficult video games and whenever you play nice groups.”
CHASE ON THE CASE
Pittsburgh rookie broad receiver Chase Claypool is coming off a record-setting efficiency in opposition to Philadelphia during which he turned the primary Steelers participant to attain 4 occasions in a sport since 1968. Claypool’s fast improvement offers Roethlisberger one other goal in an offense that has scored not less than 26 factors in its first 4 video games for the primary time in franchise historical past. Nevertheless, the 6-foot-4, 238-pounder can not fly beneath the radar of opponents.
“The factor I informed him after the sport is he isn’t going to have the ability to sneak up on anyone,” Roethlisberger mentioned. “So how is he going to rise to the event now that individuals are going to be watching him?”
Stefanski and Steelers coach Mike Tomlin share roots stretching to Minnesota.
They have been each on the Vikings employees in 2006, Tomlin because the crew’s defensive coordinator and Stefanski as an assistant to then-coach Brad Childress.
In actual fact, Browns defensive coordinator Joe Woods, particular groups coordinator Mike Priefer, broad receivers coach Chad O’Shea and Steelers line of defense coach Karl Dunbar additionally coached in Minnesota.
Stefanski has remained buddies with Tomlin and admires the consistency of his groups in Pittsburgh.
“They’re all the time ready,” Stefanski mentioned. “He does every part. They win soccer video games any which means they should. He’s a really excellent coach.”
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