Browns Diary, Week 11: The Steeler Way
Cleveland 13, Pittsburgh 10
OK, so look: I’m happy. Of course I’m happy. The Cleveland Browns did something on Sunday that, frankly, I’ve been waiting for them to do all my life. They out-Steelered the Steelers. They out-Tomlined Mike Tomlin. For 50-plus years, I have watched the Pittsburgh Steelers crush the spirits of opponents (most often the Browns) by simply being tougher, meaner, making the key play in the key moment, making their own breaks at the right time, getting the big stop at the end.
For 50-plus years, the Steelers have been the diametric opposite of the Browns — stable, constant, competent, ferocious. The Browns have had 16 head coaches since I became aware of football. The Steelers have had three. The Browns have had 23 different quarterbacks lead the team in passing since I became aware of football. The Steelers have had half that many, and two of those quarterbacks are Hall of Famers (or will be, in the case of Ben Roethlisberger).
The Steelers have had seven losing seasons in 50 years and won at least five games every year. The Browns have THIRTY-THREE losing seasons in 50 years, and they won fewer than five in THIRTEEN of them, not counting the strike season of 1982. And let’s not forget they missed three years after the OG Browns moved to Baltimore.
Yes, all my life I looked to Pittsburgh and wondered: Why and how? That is: Why do they have everything figured out? How do they win all the close games? Why are they so tough and well-organized? How do they always get so lucky?
Then I’d wonder: But are they lucky? Can you call it luck when they do it year after year, decade after decade? Isn’t calling the Pittsburgh Steelers lucky a bit like Tim McCarver calling Bob Gibson lucky because whenever he pitched, the other team didn’t score any runs?
This year’s Steelers are pretty much the ultimate example of their black (and gold) magic. They came into Sunday’s game having been outgained in EVERY SINGLE GAME. Every one. Heck, the first time they played Cleveland, the Browns outgained them by 150 yards. And you know what? The Steelers still won. They came into Sunday’s game 6-3 anyway.
So, yes, of course I’m happy: The Browns won this one the Pittsburgh way. They lost the turnover battle. They were losing the yardage battle until the final drive. They gave up the Steelers’ longest run play in nine years. They looked utterly helpless throughout the second half.
And they won the game anyway.
So, yes, of course, I’m happy, and I’ll share that happiness, but …
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