So how about another moral victory for the Cleveland Browns against the Pittsburgh Steelers? They didn’t win the game but they showed progress as they will have to prepare for the vaunted New Orleans Saints offense next week. Ben Roethlisberger improved to 18-1 against them. Moral victory though right? No. One of the major problems with teams in smaller markets that are not known as a “destination” places for free agents is being accepting of mediocrity.
Browns fans are guilty of this unfortunately. While the fan base is one of the deepest and most loyal in all of the NFL, they have been dealt terrible luck since coming back in 1999. They only have one playoff appearance which was in 2002 in that epic comeback by the Steelers and legendary performance from Kelly Holcomb (Curse you for not getting out of bounds in time Andre King). They’ve only had one 10 win season and that was in 2007, in which they didn’t qualify for the playoffs.
Numerous draft picks have not worked out either: Tim Couch, Brady Quinn, Brandon Weeden, Gerard Warren, Courtney Brown, Trent Richardson, William Green and the list goes on. Out of the list Warren had a decent career with the Denver Broncos and the New England Patriots. Weeden is backing up Tony Romo in Dallas and after yesterday’s performance against the San Francisco 49ers, he might be starting sooner than expected.
Brown had an injury-plagued career with the Broncos just as he did with the Browns. Green never reached his potential due to substance abuse and domestic disputes. Quinn has been on six different teams. Richardson is on the Indianapolis Colts still averaging only 2.8 yards a carry and Couch played under the worst offensive line in history and never could prove his worth.
In all, Cleveland Browns Stadium/First Energy Stadium and the city has indeed been a “Factory of Sadness.” Since coming back in 1999 the Browns are 5-27 against the Steelers. That is one of the worst records a team has against another one in this decade. The once storied rivalry in the NFL is no longer such. A new era that was going to involve ” bloodied noses and hard work,” started out as one with band-aids and fist bumps. The Browns looked atrocious in the first half of the game on both sides of the ball.
Sep 7, 2014; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown (84) runs over Cleveland Browns punter Spencer Lanning (5) during the first half at Heinz Field. Brown was flagged on the play. Mandatory Credit: Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports
Brian Hoyer looked like a rookie out there, the offensive line was letting 35-year old Brett Keisel get whatever he wanted and Le’Veon Bell looked like Adrian Peterson as the defense couldn’t wrap him up. He averaged 14.7 yards a carry in the game. Rookie Justin Gilbert had no answer for Markus Wheaton and got burnt several times. To top it all off Antonio Brown went Mr. Miyagi on Spencer Lanning on a punt return. It was an abomination of all sorts by the Steelers.
The score was 27-3 by halftime and most fans thought it was over. Heinz Field was half-filled as they have seen this same song and dance for 15 years. This game was far from over. The Browns looked like a completely new team after the half and came out with a vengeance. Hoyer was connecting on every pass to his wideouts. Rookies Isaiah Crowell and Terrance West looked like Earnest Byner and Kevin Mack and were unstoppable. The defense was relentless on Roethlisberger as they compiled 5 total sacks as a team.
Before anybody knew it, the score was tied at 27 and the Browns were about to complete the biggest comeback against Pittsburgh in years. They fell short. A lapse in judgement with punting and terrible play-calling down the stretch led to the eventual loss and the Steelers winning the game by a field goal. In the W/L column it will go as a loss but it is still a moral victory to some. Not me. A loss is a loss. If a team scores more points than you and the time and/or period run out, it counts as a loss.
There has to come a time when a team, fans and city get tired of being one teams human pin cushion. As fans all you can hope for is that your team plays with the heart, passion and hatred that you feel for a team. Unfortunately the “rivalry,” is so one-sided that players that come in here do not understand what it once mean’t to play the Steelers and what the whole week symbolized.
” I don’t know what the percentages are of coming back and winning. I guarantee its probably right around one. There are no moral victories in this league.”
Even though the Browns loss this game against them, hopefully Mike Pettine will bring back what it truly means to play Pittsburgh. He said it best himself ” I don’t know what the percentages are of coming back and winning. I guarantee it’s probably right around one. There are no moral victories in this league.