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Steelers, Browns Drama-Free in Rivalry Rematch



PITTSBURGH — The rematch scheduled for Sunday afternoon between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cleveland Browns was hyped as a potential bloodbath.

The historic rivals, separated by just a few hours’ drive, for the first time in a long time entered separated by just a game in the standings as the Browns needed a win to catch the Steelers in the AFC Wild Card standings.

But most of the hype was on the aftermath of the Browns’ win over the Steelers on Nov. 14, when Cleveland defensive end Myles Garrett attacked Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph with eight seconds left in the game, ripping his helmet off and beating him with it and inciting a brawl between the teams that ended with three suspensions and over a half million dollars in fines.

Then, Cleveland head coach Freddie Kitchens threw a match onto the tinderbox by wearing a “Pittsburgh started it” t-shirt on Friday.

But despite all of that, the rematch didn’t exactly live up to the hype. The Steelers and Browns played one of the cleaner games of the season, with the only personal foul penalty being an unnecessary roughness on 183-pound wide receiver Diontae Johnson for hanging on to a block too long and Bud Dupree roughing the passer on the second-to-last Browns offensive play.

Dupree said some of the Steelers were skeptical that Kitchens actually wore the shirt, and thought the photo of him in it circulating on social media may have been a fake, but the Browns coach confirmed that it was him on Sunday.

“Did he wear it for real? Oh man. Any time something like that happens, we just try to make sure it wasn’t photoshopped,” Dupree said. “It’s funny. If he wants to be that way next time, we’ll make Butts wear one.”

Kitchens didn’t think it made a difference in the game.

“My daughters wanted me to wear the shirt and I’d wear it again,” Kitchen said. “I put a jacket on. I covered it up. I took a picture with a fan. That was as simple as that. The t-shirt didn’t cause us to give up 40-yard passes.”

The Steelers, who wore their own shirts in support of suspended teammate Maurkice Pouncey, who sat out his second and final game for punching and kicking Garrett after he attacked Rudolph, thought Kitchens wearing the shirt came off as low-class and used that as motivation. Guard David DeCastro said it was “bulletin board material.”

“I don’t want to escalate this thing as far as Cincy 2, but when you have people wearing certain shirts, they know they have it on,” veteran guard Ramon Foster said. “Come on, man. Be professional. … The game of football is played on the field. You say and do a lot of things off the field, you better be able to back them up.”

Outside of supporting Pouncey, who the team presented with a game ball after the win, the Steelers made it a point not to say too much about what transpired in the first game. Garrett, Pouncey and Rudolph all not playing in the rematch certainly had an effect on it being a calmer battle, but the Steelers also wanted it that way.

“We weren’t concerned about it, to be quite honest with you,” head coach Mike Tomlin said. “We were about beating him today. That’s how you deal with some of that stuff. You beat them.”


Steelers Place Samuels, Washington on COVID-19 List, Release 8



Pittsburgh Steelers running back Jaylen Samuels and wide receiver James Washington have been placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list, the team announced Sunday.

This brings the team total to four players on the reserve/COVID-19. Pittsburgh placed defensive backs Justin Layne and Arrion Springs on the list last week.

The team also announced the release of eight players on Sunday. Quarterback J.T. Barrett, running back Ralph Webb, returner Quadree Henderson, offensive lineman Christian Montano, long snapper Christian Kuntz, defensive end Dewayne Hendrix, safety Tyree Kinnel and defensive end Josiah Coatney were all waived. Henderson and Hendrix were former standouts at Pitt, while Kuntz played his college ball at Duquesne.

The reserve/COVID-19 designation was created for players who have either tested positive for the virus, or have been in close contact with an infected individual. Players can be removed from the list once they have been medically cleared. There is no limit to the amount of players a club can place on the list.

A second-round pick in 2018 out of Oklahoma State, Washington is coming off a productive sophomore season that saw him catch 44 passes for 735 yards and three touchdowns. He played in 15 games last year, starting ten.

Selected in the fifth round of the same draft out of NC State, Samuels has turned into a reliable pass catcher out of the backfield, snagging 47 receptions for 305 yards and a score in 2019. He also carried the ball 66 times for 175 yards and a touchdown.

While they are not the first Steelers to receive the designation, Samuels and Washington are definitely more crucial to the team’s immediate plans than Layne and Springs. Getting them healthy and back on the field will be paramount, as the Steelers look to improve on their disastrous offensive output from a year ago with the return of a healthy Ben Roethlisberger.

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Steelers, Heyward Have Made Little Progress Towards Extension, Per Agent



The Pittsburgh Steelers and defensive end Cam Heyward are no closer to agreeing to a long-term contract extension, according to the star’s agent.

Speaking with ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, Heyward’s agent Michael Perrett of Element Sports Group divulged that the team and his client have made no significant advances towards a new deal.

Perrett reaffirmed that Heyward still wants to retire as a Steeler, but acknowledged that COVID-19 has made the path to an agreement more challenging.

“I thought we’d be further along in the process. In a normal year, we might be,” he told ESPN. “The current situation has led to a lot of uncertainty, but NFL business is still moving forward. Cam would love to retire a Steeler, but at this point, he just doesn’t know how all of this is going to play out.”

According to Fowler, Heyward is not considering holding out, mainly because of his position in the team as a captain and player rep.

Heyward, 31, is coming off one of the best seasons of his career in 2019. With nine sacks, eleven tackles-for-loss and 23 quarterback hits, Heyward earned Pro Bowl and First-Team All-Pro honors a year ago. His 79 tackles-for-loss are the fourth-most in franchise history.

While other high-profile pass rushers have signed new deals this offseason, including the Chiefs’ Chris Jones, the Browns’ Myles Garrett and the Chargers’ Joey Bosa, Heyward still waits.

Even though the Steelers tend to avoid in-season contract negotiations and little progress has been made thus far, the two sides still have the month of August to work out a deal.

Still, if they are not able to get something prior to the season opener, you would think the organization would make an exception for Heyward, considering his desirable combination of leadership and ability.

He has remained consistent that he wants to retire in Pittsburgh. The Steelers would be wise to make his wish a reality.

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Mike Tomlin on Rookie Development Under COVID Restrictions



Steelers HC Mike Tomlin made no excuses while explaining the difficulty in developing rookies under the COVID guidelines.

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