Steelers Notebook: Steelers could even Browns series
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Post-Gazette archivesTerry Bradshaw passes under pressure from the Browns' defense in 1976. After 56 years, the Steelers have a chance to tie the series with Cleveland (55-54) for the first time since their second meeting in 1950. The Browns and Steelers meet tomorrow night at Heinz Field.
Since they first played Cleveland Oct. 7, 1950, and lost, 30-17, the Steelers have tried -- fruitlessly -- to catch the Browns, who won the first eight games of the series and were 16-2 at one point.
Fifty-six years later, the Steelers have a chance to tie the series with the Browns for the first time since their second meeting in 1950 when they play tomorrow night in Heinz Field -- the 110th game of the series.
Cleveland leads 55-54, including two playoff games won by the Steelers.
The series has become lopsided lately. The Steelers are 19-3 against the Browns since their second meeting in the 1993 season and have won the past six, including 24-20 Nov. 19 in Cleveland.
Few have waited as long to see the Steelers climb back even in the series with the Browns than Dan Rooney, who first started working for his father's club as a ballboy in the 1940s.
"That's a big deal," Rooney said yesterday. "They've been our big rivalry and that will pick up again the same way. And this is an important game for us."
Rooney pointed out that while the great Steelers Super Bowl teams of the 1970s dominated the Browns in Three Rivers Stadium, that wasn't the case when they played in Cleveland.
"We only won five times there during the 1970s," Rooney said.
In the decade of the '70s, the Steelers were 5-5 in Cleveland. They were 10-0 at Three Rivers Stadium, where the Steelers won the first 16 games against the Browns.
The Browns and then-owner Art Modell tried to break their jinx in Three Rivers Stadium by doing something different every year -- flying to Pittsburgh instead of taking buses or changing the hotel where they stayed. Once, the Browns even brought some dirt with them from old Cleveland Stadium and spread it on the artificial turf at Three Rivers. It didn't prevent them from losing again.
Nothing worked until the Browns finally ended their futility Oct. 5, 1986, with a 27-24 win at Three Rivers Stadium. It was the start of a four-game winning streak for them in Pittsburgh. However, the Steelers have dominated the Browns at home, where they are 29-6 since the 1970 NFL merger.
Another footnote in what historically has been the Steelers' most bitter rivalry -- Pro Football Hall of Famer Chuck Noll, a Cleveland native who played for the Browns in the 1950s when they so dominated the Steelers, won his last game as Steelers coach Dec. 22, 1991, a 17-10 victory against the Browns at Three Rivers Stadium.
Four starters officially out
Coach Bill Cowher made it official -- his starting wide receivers and his starting safeties will miss tomorrow night's game.
Strong safety Troy Polamalu (knee), free safety Ryan Clark (groin), and wide receivers Hines Ward (knee) and Cedrick Wilson (ankle) are listed as out.
Replacing them will be strong safety Tyrone Carter, free safety Anthony Smith, and wide receivers Santonio Holmes and Nate Washington.
No one else is on the Steelers' injury list.
Backup QB might start
The Browns list former Steelers defensive lineman Orpheus Roye as doubtful with a knee injury. They have nine other players listed as questionable, including quarterback Charlie Frye.
Frye left Sunday's game with an injured right wrist that an MRI showed is not broken but bruised. His wrist is in a splint and he did not practice yesterday.
The Steelers expect backup Derek Anderson to make his first NFL start. He's in his second season and has played in just one game -- most of the second half of a 31-28 overtime upset of Kansas City.
Anderson completed 12 of 21 passes for 171 yards, two touchdowns and an interception.
"Anytime you have a rookie you want to get after him, you know, because he's never been here, never played here, doesn't know what it's like, isn't familiar with our schemes or things like that," Steelers defensive end Brett Keisel said. "You have to pin your ears back a little bit."
Told Anderson was not a rookie, Keisel said: "He hasn't played against us, though. If you haven't played against us, you're a rookie."
Browns tight end Kellen Winslow went a little overboard while describing how Anderson differs from Frye to the Pittsburgh media.
"He has a stronger arm than Charlie, but he's not elusive at all. Charlie is like Michael Vick."
First Published December 6, 2006 12:00 am