Coming into the game against Pittsburgh, there was talk about how the rivalry has been diminished, talk about how many wins the Steelers have had over us in recent years, etc. It’s been a one-sided affair the past 15 years, with the Browns squeezing out the occasional win over Pittsburgh. It seemed like the Browns weren’t respected over the past few seasons. I think that all changed Sunday.
I was appalled at how the Browns played the first half. Many of my fellow fans were. I understand the frustration, but when I see things like “typical Browns” or “that’s so Cleveland” and “here we go again” on Twitter, that gets my blood boiling. I hate negativity in sports and I refuse to take part in bashing my beloved team and city. The Browns are not out there to lose on purpose and they need your support. It’s alright to criticize the team, but what’s unacceptable to me is giving up on them. Surrender gives us a terrible image and I want the world to see that Cleveland has the best fans in the world. We stick by our own through anything and everything.
I know that how the Browns played in the first two quarters was an anomaly. That was not supposed to happen; that is not what this team is. I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt and say they came a little unprepared and got it together as the game went on. That’s ok, this is a young team and there are going to be some growing pains. People don’t like the word process in Cleveland but this is something we may see from time to time as the team develops. There is no reason to give up on the season just yet.
I’ve stressed before that Mike Pettine is the right man for the job. Our game with Pittsburgh only further convinced me. Something was said in the locker room during half time that gave our guys a good kick in the rear. Be it from Pettine himself, or from some of the veteran players, we have some leadership on this team. They came out swinging and pushed the Steelers to the brink. That may not have happened in years past. While it hurts to lose the game, it amazed me how we managed to tie up and almost win the thing. I cannot be angry at the Browns for almost taking out a juggernaut in one half.
That’s the kind of intensity I know the Browns can play with. This is a force to be reckoned with. If we can do that to an improved Steelers squad, who’s to say we can’t do that to anyone else? I give Pittsburgh a ton of credit for the way they played, they were a worthy test for the Browns. We adapted to compete with them and almost succeeded. We earned their respect that game and planted the seeds for a spirited rivalry once more. They have not seen a Browns squad like this in a very long time and neither have we, the fans. I ask my fellow Browns fans to reserve their skepticism for now because this is not the same old team we’ve seen for the longest time, but a team laying the foundation right now for a successful future.