The Pittsburgh Steelers have done plenty of winning against the Cleveland Browns over the years, particularly the current Browns incarnation that was rebirthed in 1999. They own a 74-59-1 all-time record, but have lost to them just seven times since then.
And the last time they lost to the Browns at home? 2003, the dissolution of the Tommy Gun era, when they actually had a losing record and drafted high enough to land Ben Roethlisberger. The Steelers have only lost to the Browns four times since Roethlisberger was drafted, and he didn’t even play in two of those games, including last year’s loss in Cleveland.
Does that matter? Not according to head coach Mike Tomlin. Not against this 4-1 Browns team. Not against this new regime, which has virtually no connection at all to the failures of the past. For the Steelers, it might be same old, same old because of their organizational consistency, but this is a relatively new Browns team.
“You think Kevin Stefanski cares or Joe Woods cares or some of the significant components, some of the new people care?”, Tomlin quipped in response to reporters’ questions along that line of thinking yesterday during his pre-game press conference. “No”.
“Do you think some of our new people care, some significant components of our equation, guys like [Eric] Ebron and others who don’t have that shared experience?”, he added. “I’ve learned to shelve my experiences and get focused on the variables at hand because often times they aren’t shared experiences”.
The new Browns don’t care about the old Browns, and the current Steelers can’t afford to be caught thinking about the old Browns, either, or else they’ll have Kareem Hunt run down their gullet or find Odell Beckham streaking down the sideline for a touchdown.
Even with Nick Chubb currently sidelined, the Browns’ run game is storming the field and helping lead a potent offense that has seen them score 150 points over the past four games, which comes out to an average of 37.5 points per game.
Granted, the defense has also given up 30 or more points three times already this year, and never fewer than 20, but this is a splash-play defense. They have forced a league-leading 12 takeaways in just five games, a pace that puts them on the same trajectory as the Steelers’ defense a year ago.
And Myles Garrett is reminding people that he is one of the best defensive players in the world. He already has six sacks and 10 quarterback hits on the season, with a league-leading three forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries. Only Aaron Donald is keeping him from being the current favorite for the Defensive Player of the Year Award.
The old Browns are irrelevant. Even the old Steelers are irrelevant. This is a 4-win team taking on another 4-win team in the sixth week of the season, with at least a share of the division lead on the line, plain and simple. The rest is background noise.