The Steelers and Browns games in 2019 were filled with drama after the first meeting between the teams ended in a brawl in Cleveland.
Browns defensive lineman Myles Garrett hit Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph over the head with his helmet, sparking a brawl that saw three players end up suspended and over a half a million dollars in fines doled out by the NFL.
Garrett then accused Rudolph of using a racial slur, which set off a back-and-forth through the media between the teams that included then-Browns coach Freddie Kitchens wearing a “Pittsburgh Started It” t-shirt.
When the teams met a few weeks later in Pittsburgh, third-string quarterback Devlin Hodges led the Steelers past a Garrett-less Browns team, and there were no overflowing emotions from either side. But the Steelers finished the 2019 season at 8-8 and the Browns slid to 6-10 before Kitchens was fired.
This season, the stakes are higher in advance of the teams’ first meeting in 2020 on Sunday at Heinz Field. The Steelers are unbeaten at 4-0 and stand alone atop the AFC North. Cleveland has a strong 4-1 record through five games, but thanks to an early defeat at one-loss Baltimore, the Browns enter Sunday’s contest in third place in the division.
“This week, we are faced with a significant challenge, one that we are excited about, because man, we love being in the kitchen” Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said on Tuesday. “AFC North ball is in the kitchen. It’s hot in the North. We’ve got an AFC North home game against the Cleveland Browns, a team that’s won four in a row.”
Even though it will the first time that Garrett returns to the gridiron in a game between the clubs, Tomlin wants the importance of the game between this year’s teams to be the focus, not retribution for the past.
“There’s a lot on the table in reference to this game in terms of stakes,” Tomlin said. “They’re a 4-1 team. We’re trying to remain undefeated. We’re not looking for that low-hanging fruit or that reality TV storyline and so forth. This is a big game in 2020.”
It’s the biggest game between the teams in quite some time, with the Browns realistically challenging for postseason spot for the first time since they started out 7-4 in the 2014 season before losing five straight to close the campaign.
Highlights from Steelers Practice 10/22/20
Stephon Tuitt practices his footwork and Minkah Fitzpatrick works on his ball awareness as the Steelers defense prepares for their upcoming matchup with the Tennessee Titans.
Footage courtesy Pittsburgh Steelers
Highlights from Steelers Practice 10/21/20
Steelers receiver Diontae Johnson returns to practice and joins star rookie Chase Claypool by running routes and catching passes on Wednesday, October 21, 2020. The Steelers hope to show off their dynamic offense at full strength during the team’s game this Sunday against Tennessee.
Footage courtesy Pittsburgh Steelers
Le’Veon Bell Says He’s Never Played with an MVP-Caliber QB
Kansas City running back Le’Veon Bell spoke with the media Wednesday for the first time since signing with the Chiefs and expressed excitement about the chance to play with quarterback Patrick Mahomes, but he may have taken a shot at his former teammate Ben Roethlisberger in the process.
“Patty Mahomes, I’ve never played with a player MVP-wise, so it’s gonna be fun,” Bell said. “I think it’s a lot of weapons, it’s gonna be fun for me.”
“Patty Mahomes…I’ve never played with a player MVP-wise so it’s gonna be fun. I think it’s a lot of weapons, it’s gonna be fun for me.”— The MMQB (@theMMQB) October 21, 2020
Le’Veon Bell talks about why he chose the Chiefs
While Bell could just be propping up his new teammate, it does appear that the three-time Pro Bowler has already forgotten just how good he had it as a Pittsburgh Steeler.
Roethlisberger has never won an MVP award, but the future Hall of Famer did post MVP-caliber numbers over the five seasons they spent together in Pittsburgh.
From 2013 to 2017, Roethlisberger passed for 21,221 yards and 138 touchdowns, as the Steelers went a combined 48-24 when he was under center. Bell was a clear beneficiary of Roethlisberger’s production. Not only did he rush for 5,336 yards and 35 scores as a Steelers, but he also caught 312 passes for 2,660 yards and seven touchdowns.
Bell signed with Kansas City last week after being released by the New York Jets following a disappointing 17 games with the franchise. The two-time All-Pro rushed for just 863 yards and three touchdowns as a Jet. He had no rushes over 19 yards while playing under head coach Adam Gase, and did not post a single 100-yard rushing performance in New York.
Pittsburgh selected Bell in the second round of the 2013 NFL Draft, but the two sides were unable to agree to a long-term extension following a productive five years. Bell sat out the entirety of the 2018 season before signing a free agent contract with New York. He is fourth in Steelers history with 5,335 rushing yards and 35 rushing touchdowns