During Thursday night’s win over the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Cleveland Browns were a more physical team, which caught the attention of a Steelers lineman.
The story of the Cleveland Browns Thursday night game against the Pittsburgh Steelers was the game-ending brawl. No matter what happened in the previous 59 minutes and 50 seconds of the game, everyone will remember the brawl.
But the brawl showed a mindset from the Browns that was likely instilled to the players by the coaching staff during the short week leading into Thursday night’s game. It was clear from the get-go that the Browns wanted to be the more physical and energetic team.
Cleveland looked like a refreshed team during the start of the game, despite the short week. The Browns also looked like a much more physical team. That did not go unnoticed by the Steelers, as NFL Network’s Aditi Kinkhabwala told the Ken Carman Show Tuesday morning that a Steelers offensive lineman told her the Browns came out to bully the Steelers.
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It was a reverse of course for the Browns and Steelers matchup. Over the past decade, the Steelers have always been the more physical team and imposed their will against the Browns. That type of mindset caused the Steelers to have some nasty hits against Cleveland. For example, watch former Steeler James Harrison‘s hits on Colt McCoy and Mohamed Massaquoi. However, it led to the Steelers owning the Browns over the past decade.
But it was different this time around. The Browns were flying around the field to make plays and made some big hits on the Steelers. However, that energy to fly around the field caused the Browns to make multiple nasty hits, including their hits on JuJu Smith-Schuster and Diontae Johnson.
Although injuring the opponent is never a good result, it was a good sign the Browns were imposing their will against the Steelers. Based on the start of the game, the Steelers did not look prepared to face a Browns team that was as physical as they were from the first snap. And it gave the Browns loads of momentum during the first half.
The negative aspect of playing as tenacious as the Browns did Thursday night is it could leave them more vulnerable to personal foul penalties. And that is what happened to the Browns, who dealt with their fair share of 15-yard penalties.
However, becoming the bully against the Steelers helped them come away with a victory against their divisional rival. The Steelers clearly looked like they were playing on only three days rest while the Browns were ready to punish Pittsburgh. And if it were not for some poor offensive drives, the game would have been a blowout compared to the 21-7 finish.
The Browns being the bully and not the bullied against the Steelers shows a sign of change in the Cleveland locker room. If they are able to play this way every week, granted with some more discipline, they should be able to turn their aggressive mindset into more victories.