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Deshaun Watson Thinks Steelers Are Browns’ Biggest Rival

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Browns QB Deshaun Watson

Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson has faced the Pittsburgh Steelers only twice as a Brown, but the intensity from those contests have left a strong impression on him.

During a recent episode of the QB Unplugged podcast with his personal quarterback trainer Quincy Avery, Watson declared that the Steelers-Browns rivalry is one of the best in the NFL.

“Cleveland-Pittsburgh, for sure,” Watson told Avery when asked to list his top 4 rivalries in sports. “It’s even bigger than Cincinnati. It’s not Baltimore. Baltimore is a big game, for sure. It’s up there, but it ain’t as real as Pittsburgh.”

The Pittsburgh-Cleveland rivalry has intensified in recent years due to primarily Myles Garrett and the Mason Rudolph incident in 2019. The Browns are at least respectable now, as well.

The T.J. Watt-Garrett debate between the two fanbases has also added fuel to the fire. The two cities are only separated by about 130 miles, so it has a backyard rivalry type of feel similar to college football. There’s a lot of similarities with the two Rust Belt cities.

Browns Deshaun Watson Steelers TV

Pittsburgh Steelers linebackers T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith tackle Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson on Sept. 18, 2023. — Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

Browns tight end David Njoku tabbed the Steelers as his most hated team during an appearance on Watson’s podcast in March.

“I love playing the Ravens the most. For some reason I just love playing the Ravens. That game is so electric. The most hated I think? The Steelers … I just can’t stand them,” Njoku responded to Watson when asked to name his most hated division opponent.

When the schedule was released earlier this month, the Browns social media team took a playful jab at the Steelers by posting a garbage can next to the team’s logo. The Steelers social media team also trolled the Browns after their Week 2 win last season. The Browns returned the favor by trolling back after their Week 11 win.

Former Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger had a 24-2-1 career record against the Browns and was the winningest quarterback at Cleveland Browns Stadium until Baker Mayfield supplanted him in 2020. The Steelers absolutely dominated the Browns in the 2000s and the 2010s.

The Browns had a chance to select Roethlisberger, who’s a Findlay, Ohio native, in the 2004 NFL Draft, but they picked tight end Kellen Winslow II at sixth overall instead. It turned out to be a regrettable decision by the Browns’ front office to pass on a the young gunslinger out of Miami of Ohio.

“AFC North football is always going to be rivals and it’s going to be great games,” Roethlisberger said in October of 2021. “I’m glad that I’m not the most winning quarterback in the stadium history anymore.”

The Steelers are 6-5 against the Browns since 2019, but Cleveland got the best of Pittsburgh in the 2020 wild-card playoff game.

Watson and the Browns will play the Steelers on Thursday Night Football in Week 12 (Nov. 21) at Cleveland and in Week 14 (Dec. 8) at Acrisure Stadium. Watson is 0-2 in his career as a Brown against the Steelers. He was sacked 13 times in those two contests.