So, is this still the same old Cleveland Browns?

M.J. Stewart, Cleveland Browns. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)
M.J. Stewart, Cleveland Browns. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images) /

The Cleveland Browns were fantastic, but don’t expect angry Steeler fans to notice

The Cleveland Browns were fantastic, playing shorthanded, missing several players down due to Covid-10: Wide receiver KhaDarel Hodge, cornerbacks Denzel Ward and Kevin Johnson, and Pro Bowl guard Joel Bitonio. Ward, of course, is also a former Pro Bowler.

Who goes into Pittsburgh down two Pro Bowlers and a starting wide receiver and special teams ace and still wins the game by 11 points?

The Cleveland Browns, that’s who.

To those who were crying for a postponement — you should be embarrassed. In the NFL world, dealing with Covid-19 isn’t that much different than injuries or bad weather. Football teams just have to adjust to tough breaks.

Same criticism for those who whined about the Browns’ loss to the Jets. The loss to the Jets was a bitter pill to swallow, but the Browns had to face up to their part in playing into the strengths of a weaker team. Cleveland needed to take responsibility for their serious mistakes in game planning and playcalling in that game — and they did take responsibility — and for the most part, corrected those mistakes.

Had the Browns simply blamed Covid and the Jets for all their problems, they might have felt better about the loss, but they would never have beaten the Steelers in the playoffs. Similarly, in Week 17, they allowed the Steelers to take them out of their game plan to some extent. That had to be fixed for the playoffs, and they got most of it right.

However, defensive coordinator Joe Woods is going to singe a few eardrums this week about his defenders giving up 500 yards passing to Ben Roethlisberger & Co. Missing Ward and Johnson will not be considered a viable excuse. It will not get any easier against Patrick Mahomes and the big, bad Kansas City Chiefs.

Ridiculously, the shoe is on the other foot now. Steeler fans and media geniuses wish to give the Browns zero credit for playing without two starting cornerbacks and a Pro Bowl guard and instead blame the Steelers’ loss on the quarterback who passed for 501 yards.

It is hilarious and sad that Pittsburgh fans — hopefully not the entire fan base, but let’s say a vocal minority — are turning on Roethlisberger like a school of hungry piranha who have suddenly been thrown 6’5, 241 pounds of red meat. Scott Rogust of FanSided compiles an amazing list of Steelers fans who now seem to utterly hate the seven-time Pro Bowler, and are plotting his imminent demise. Check it out, it’s hilarious.

The Browns get no credit, it’s all Ben’s fault? Well, maybe JuJu Smith-Schuster can share some of the hate.

Even at the national level, Cleveland gets little credit, and it is more about blaming the guy who threw led them to 37 points (it was not the running game). An amazing assessment comes from USAToday.

"“It might be premature to call Roethlisberger completely washed up, but it’s clear that he’s no longer an asset for the Steelers.” — Steven Ruiz, For The Win, USAToday"

No longer an asset?  Can’t he at least sell programs or something?

I don’t know about Steelers Nation, but it seems like if there was a team with a horrible running game and the quarterback threw for 501 yards and four touchdowns, you could understand why the defense could lay in waiting for picks. In fact, before the game, the Village Elliot predicted this might happen to the Steelers if they had to stay one-dimensional. 3.3 yards per carry is one-dimensional, folks, and that is not the quarterback’s fault.

What the rest of the world saw was a team with a stud quarterback in Baker Mayfield and a great running game, and they played great despite also being short-handed on the offensive line. It was a great victory over a strong opponent. The Browns did not play a weak defense.

Roethlisberger was very, very good and deserves great credit,  but Mayfield was even better than Roethlisberger and deserves even more credit. There is no doubt the kid had more firepower, accuracy, mobility, and equal moxie.

If some of the Steelers fans want to hate their quarterback, fine. This writer at least respects him greatly, but if you want to hate the warrior who brought you two Super Bowls and was your main hope on Sunday, that is just fine with us.

Next. Browns 15 best RBs of all-time. dark

We could all use a good laugh after all the misery that big grizzly bear has caused us.