Browns vs. Steelers: 5 questions with Still Curtain
By Thomas Moore
Sep 7, 2014; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7) is sacked by Cleveland Browns linebacker Chris Kirksey (58) and defensive lineman Armonty Bryant (95) during the second half at Heinz Field. Pittsburgh won the game, 30-27. Mandatory Credit: Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports
The Cleveland Browns hit the road on Sunday to take on the Pittsburgh Steelers.
While it may carry the same feeling as the Three Rivers Jinx, which took the Browns 16 years to break, traveling to Heinz Field has been no kinder to the Browns.
Cleveland has not beaten Pittsburgh on the road since 2003, and are just 1-14 at Heinz Field since it opened in 2001. Going back even further, since beating the Steelers on the road in the 1989 season opener, the Browns have only won two road games against the Steelers. (Although that did give us an opportunity to point out that 51-0 beating, which is always nice.)
The Browns may be catching a break this time, however, as they will most likely be facing backup quarterback Landry Jones rather than Ben Roethlisberger, who is 18-2 against the Browns in his career.
To learn a bit more about what’s happening with the Steelers, we sat down with Kimberly Myers (@Kimmy_KimKimM), one of the editors at Still Curtain, for a virtual Q&A.
Question: It looks like the Steelers will be without Ben Roethlisberger for a few weeks. They went 2-2 during his last absence; can they hold up without him this time?
Kim: By all accounts from Roethlisberger and head coach Mike Tomlin, this should be a shorter absence than his last time out. I don’t think there’s any realistic chance that he’ll play or even suit up this Sunday, but the bye week couldn’t be coming at a better time considering how this season has gone injury-wise for the Steelers.
I’d take Landry Jones at home against Cleveland, instead of on the road in Kansas City like his last start. If Jones is the starter when the team travels to Seattle, there may be some sorry there.
Question: The Steelers are just 22nd overall in defense (and 26th against the pass), but they are 8th in points allowed. What’s the deal?
Kim: I think the defense implemented by defensive coordinator Keith Butler this season is a classic “bend but don’t break” defense, although I’d hope over time they’ll improve against the pass with some upgrades in the secondary.
The biggest thing that stands out with this defense is the red zone defense, which has bailed them out a ton. They’re forcing teams into a below 40 percent completion rate on 3rd downs and just over 50 percent red zone scoring. They’ve also been winning the turnover battle for the most part, which has been lacking from the Steelers defense for several years.
Question: It looks like the division title is out of reach. Can the Steelers do enough to stay in the race for a wild card spot?
Kim: The Steelers certainly carved themselves a difficult path to the playoffs this year so far with all of their losses coming from AFC teams. The win last week against Oakland was necessary to keep any playoff hopes alive.
Surprisingly in the AFC, even with having two of the remaining three undefeated teams, the overall conference is rather weak this season, so the rest of those playoff spots are up for grabs for teams like the Steelers. It will be important to have a healthy Ben Roethlisberger for any kind of playoff push as well.
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Question: The series between the Browns and the Steelers has been considerably one-sided throughout the years — the Browns won 32 of the first 41 meetings, while the Steelers have won 26 of the past 30. It’s been rare that both teams have been good at the same time, so is this really a rivalry?
Kim: I was born and raised a Steelers fan and hopefully not to show my age too much, but vividly remember the years before the old Browns moved to Baltimore. I feel like it’s still a rivalry because I’d like to see the Browns get better and compete but have the Steelers always knock them out. I think rivalries these days have to actually start on the field. It’s not enough if the fans view the teams as rivals, the players and coaches have to hate each other, too, for it to really take off.
Question: Who wins on Sunday?
Kim: I think the Steelers offense, even with Landry Jones starting, is too much for the Browns defense. DeAngelo Williams is on a mission to prove he not only has gas left in the tank, but he has jet engines as well. The Steelers offense doesn’t have to adjust the playbook to suit Landry, and I think he performs much better in front of the home crowd than he did in his start in Kansas City. Steelers take it 28-13.