The 2020 season left a sour taste in the mouths of Steelers players, coaches, and fans. Not only was the game over before it even started it felt like, but they were getting pounded by a division rival.
The Steelers face the Browns for the first time since that AFC Wild Card game. Cornerback Joe Haden sits in the midst of his fifth season in black and gold for the Steelers after seven seasons with the Browns. He talked about what it was like sitting out that playoff game.
”I was physically good to go, but I had COVID. I didn’t have any symptoms,” Haden said Wednesday via the team website. “It was tough to just be in the basement healthy, ready to go and can’t play.”
It was announced a week before the game that Haden tested positive for COVID-19, not enough time for him to return to action. The final score of 48-37 ended up much closer than the way things were going in the first half.
The cornerback has provided a huge impact at the cornerback position for the Steelers since joining. He’s racked up 10 interceptions to go along with a Pro Bowl appearance. His missed presence was certainly felt in that Wild Card game, but who knows if it played a role in the outcome.
”The way the game was going, I don’t know [if I would have made a difference]. It was looking crazy. I just know when I’m out there, I feel like I’m always gonna be able to help the team out.”
The Steelers were down 28-0 after the first quarter in that game, so Haden’s omission likely didn’t affect the end result of the game.
Meanwhile, Haden is still looking for his first INT of the season. He says he’s ready for this weekend’s game.
“I’m really looking forward to getting back out there and helping the team. I like playing against Cleveland.”
Haden’s availability this weekend will be huge in trying to stop Cleveland’s offense. It’s looking more and more likely that Baker Mayfield starts for the Browns, so having Haden slow down Odell Beckham Jr. will be crucial. It’s clear he’s eager to prove his worth for a multitude of reasons.