The Browns hadn’t beat the Steelers in ages, and there was no way that could change last night. If the Browns beat the Steelers, then that would put Pittsburgh in a five-game losing streak and ensure they couldn’t make the playoffs, much less defend their title. There was no way that could happen in a sane world, as Pittsburgh should have at least been strong enough to pummel Cleveland, like most of the NFL does. Instead, the Browns beat the Steelers 13-6, in a score that all but guarantees a new Super Bowl champion.
The Browns and Steelers didn’t score much all night, and there was only one touchdown all game. Yet it was Cleveland, which often can’t get a touchdown for weeks at a time, who got that winning score. In fact, it was their first rushing touchdown of the season, by Chris Jennings in the second quarter.
By then, the Browns-Steelers score was 13-0 Cleveland, to the shock of Pittsburgh fans. The defending champs have taken many hits lately – from losing to Kansas City and Oakland, to Ben Roethlisberger’s latest concussion, and Mike Tomlin’s now infamous “unleash Hell” prediction. But losing to the 1-11 Browns, who hadn’t beat them in six years, was a whole new low.
Roethlisberger got pushed around all night, as all he could muster was two field goal drives. Cleveland’s only win thus far was a 6-3 embarrassment against Buffalo, but they can feel a bit more proud this time. A defense that couldn’t even stop the Detroit Lions came through to put the final nail in their enemy’s coffin.
After the Browns beat the Steelers, the obituaries officially began on the 2009 season. For the second straight time, Pittsburgh may go from a Super Bowl season to missing the playoffs the next year. At 6-7, they’d have to catch several 6-6 teams and Jacksonville just to get in. The way they’ve laid down against the worst of the AFC doesn’t inspire hope.
Worse yet, Pittsburgh actually has to play teams with playoff hopes from now on. The Packers and Ravens visit the next two weeks, and then they go to Miami, who could still be in contention by then. Even so, the Steelers have to win their next two games for the finale to mean anything at all. Their home field may be the only advantage they have, however.
The Browns-Steelers score was a much needed boost for the city of Cleveland, after months of the Browns humiliating themselves, and the Cavs’ relatively slow start. In the past, a Browns vs Steelers score was a big deal in the NFL, but the rivalry has seen better days. Fortunately for Cleveland, the Steelers’ better days are fading away with each passing week.
SI.com- “Steelers prove (again) they’re not equipped to defend championship”
Ravens Insider- “Defending world champion Steelers are toast”