Cleveland Casts Steely Gaze toward Avoiding Brownout

By Jim Thomas Of the Post-Dispatch | St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), January 4, 1995 | Go to article overview

Cleveland Casts Steely Gaze toward Avoiding Brownout


Jim Thomas Of the Post-Dispatch, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)


Hey, Pittsburgh. Ice up the Iron City and break out the Terrible Towel. The Cleveland Browns are coming to town. Again.

The Browns and Steelers have been doing battle since 1950 in the National Football League. They have met 90 times over the years. But never, ever in a playoff game - until Saturday when the Browns (12-5) come calling at Three Rivers Stadium, home of the Steelers (12-4).

The final seconds had yet to tick off the clock in the Browns' 20-13 wild-card victory over New England Sunday when the fans at Cleveland Stadium began chanting, "We Want Pittsburgh!"

Browns quarterback Vinny Testaverde said he started thinking Pittsburgh as soon as he knelt down on the final play of that game.

"We can go as far as we want to go," Testaverde said. "The only way we can be stopped, I believe, is if we hurt ourselves and beat ourselves."

Which is pretty much what happened in both of the Browns' regular-season matchups with the Steelers. In the second week of the season, the Steelers won 17-10 in Cleveland in a game in which Testaverde threw four interceptions, the Browns lost a fumble, and Pittsburgh had zero turnovers.

"It was fairly simple, because Testaverde has a knack for zeroing in on his receivers," Pittsburgh safety Darren Perry, who had three of those interceptions, told reporters after the game. "I don't think he could figure out what coverages we were actually playing."

Nobody knew how good the Steelers were at the time. They were coming off a 26-9 shellacking the previous week to Dallas. And certainly no one took the Browns seriously. They were 1-1 after that loss, coming off a 7-9 finish in 1993 and seemingly headed for another season of near-mediocrity.

Those perceptions had changed dramatically by the time the teams met in their AFC Central rematch just 2 1/2 weeks ago in Pittsburgh. The Steelers were 11-3; the Browns 10-4, and both teams already had clinched playoff berths. The Steelers won that Dec. 18 game 17-7. Testaverde threw two interceptions, the Browns lost a fumble, and the Steelers had zero turnovers.

"But it doesn't matter what happened the first two games," Testaverde said. "This is the one that counts, because the loser goes home and the winner takes the next step."

Nonetheless, conventional wisdom says the Browns simply aren't as good as Pittsburgh.

"That's a lie," Cleveland offensive tackle Tony Jones said. "I don't think Pittsburgh believes that yet. We didn't play well the last two times we played those guys. Right now, we're on a roll. …

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