After starting a series that looked at players that consistently dominated the Pittsburgh Steelers, I thought it would be a nifty idea to switch around my focus. Instead of focusing on players that have shredded the Steelers, let’s remember the good times and look at current or former Steelers that have dominated their division rivals. This series will be named after Gamebreaker mode from the NFL Street video game series. Activating Gamebreaker made players nearly unstoppable and there is no doubt that these Steelers were nearly unstoppable against their division rivals.
Those poor Browns. Last time, it was Ben Roethlisberger who had his way with the Cleveland Browns’ franchise but he is not the only player who has enjoyed an extraordinary amount of success against the Dog Pound. Willie Parker, the running back who frequently lined up behind Roethlisberger has used his speed to slice and dice the Browns defense over the years.
Parker’s NFL career was synonymous with his playing style, it was not particularly long nor patient but it was fast and fun to watch. No team had a better (or worse, depending on how you define it) view to Fast Willie Parker’s prime than the Browns. The former Steelers’ running back rushed for 916 yards in 10 career games against the Browns, with an average of nearly five yards per carry.
Even more astonishing is that Parker made seven career starts against the Browns and he managed to exceed 100-yards rushing in six of those contests. His first start came in Week 16 of the 2005 season, which saw the former Steelers’ running back rush for 130 yards on 17 carries, with 80 yards coming off of one single carry.
2006 was Parker’s best body of work as he proved the Dog Pound was all bark and no bite. In the Steelers’ first game against the Browns, Fast Willie was able to erase a 10-point deficit by scoring two touchdowns in the final five minutes to give his team a 24-20 victory.
While Parker’s first matchup of the 2006 season ended with a statement against the Browns, no one could have predicted the historic landmark he would hit during the team’s second meeting. The Browns’ defense was not the only object to fall on this day, as a 36-year old franchise record would also come crashing down.
For nearly 26 years, John Fugua held the Steelers’ franchise record for most rushing yards in a game with 218 yards against the Philadelphia Eagles. That record would fall on December 7 2006 as Parker darted through the Browns’ defense, rushing for 223 yards, a new franchise record. That record would stand for a decade until Le’Veon Bell dissected the Buffalo Bills’ defense for 236 rushing yards during the 2016 season.
How would Parker follow up his record-breaking performance? How about going over 100-yards rushing in each of his next four starts against the Browns. For those in the gambling world, we call that a lock. If the Steelers and Browns were scheduled to meet, it was almost near certainty that Parker would find a way to put up triple digits in the rushing department.
Fast Willie Parker’s career was not necessarily long but the highs had many looking on in amazement. Blink and you might miss it, though for the Browns there was no chance they would be fortunate enough to miss Parker’s play as he tortured the franchise’s defense for the better portion of a four year stretch.