The Cleveland Browns and Pittsburgh Steelers meet in a game that will have the winner with at least a share of second place within the AFC North, but it is much more than that for the Browns. The Browns have beaten the Ravens and Bengals this season as they hope to establish a new identity and demand a level of respect within the division they have not had since their return in 1999. The Steelers have been so dominant, so overwhelming that fans of that team do not look at the Browns as a rival, but as an inconvenience.
Since coming back in 1999, the Browns have beaten the Steelers five times. Three of those were with Tim Couch at quarterback. The Browns have only managed to beat Ben Roethlisberger once in his entire career and that was when head coach Eric Mangini’s Browns managed to sack Roethlisberger 8 times and the Browns cobbled together an offense largely based around Josh Cribbs carrying the football.
Roethlisberger’s legacy against the Browns has been dominant; perhaps even better than his record would suggest. The Browns have been in close games only to have Roethlisberger elude a pass rush and break the hearts of fans in Cleveland with a late scramble or touchdown pass to win. Even in a game where the Browns appeared to have broken the leg of Roethlisberger, it turned out to be a high ankle sprain and he finished the game, leading the Steelers to a win. He has come to represent everything that the Steelers hope to be thought of as a player in the form of a quarterback which has tortured the Browns since he arrived in Pittsburgh.
These two teams find themselves on even footing in the standings but there is still an element of a chip on the shoulder of this Browns team and especially its fans. The Browns hate the Steelers while the Steelers have barely had reason to even acknowledge the Browns for over a decade. Rob Chudzinski grew up in the rivalry, back when it carried for more weight. The Steelers look at the former Browns in the Baltimore Ravens as their rival. The Browns have an opportunity to usher in a new era of Browns football and how they are perceived in Pittsburgh.