CLEVELAND, OH — As the Browns (4-6) were wrapping up their 41-20 loss at the hands of the Bengals last week in Cincinnati, the Steelers (4-6) catapulted themselves back into relevancy in the AFC, using a second half explosion to bury the Lions 37-27 at Heinz Field.
Today’s divisional clash at FirstEnergy Stadium is an elimination game of sorts. The loser will have seven losses with five games left on their respective schedules and make their playoff climb even steeper.
“We have an extreme amount of potential,” said linebacker Paul Kruger to reporters in Berea this week. “For us, it’s just going to be about preparing and doing what we need to do to beat Pittsburgh. I think the coaches do a great job of keeping us focused on what we’re doing.”
Offensively, the Browns had no rhythm last week. After Joe Haden’s pick-six gave the Browns a 13-0 lead after the first quarter, Cincinnati used special teams and defense to score the next 31 points, cruising to the victory.
Campbell finished 27-56 for 248 yards and 3 interceptions. For the first time since taking the reins behind center, he looked unsettled and indecisive, which resulted in four sacks.
“The key to the quarterback is how guys bounce back when they’re having some adversity or don’t play as well as they would’ve liked,” Rob Chudzinski told reporters earlier this week. “Generally, teams are better at home, the energy, the crowd. I think the fans have been awesome and our team feeds off that energy. You have to be able to win in both places, whether it’s on the road or at home and we need to do a better job on the road.”
Big Ben and the Steelers seemed to have found their groove in recent weeks. Roethlisberger threw for 367 yards and four touchdowns last week against Detroit, picking up AFC Offensive Player of the Week honors in the process.
In winning back-to-back games, the Steelers’ offense has put up 60 points and 700 yards.
The evidence is there to support the trend continuing.
The Steelers are 15-1 against the Browns when Roethlisberger is under center, and he is completing 62.5% of his passes.
Big Ben hasn’t thrown an interception at FirstEnergy Stadium since 2006.
“Practices and preparations have been very focused, an outstanding week of preparation for us,” Chudzinski admitted. “Our players can’t wait to play this game. I can’t wait for this game as well on Sunday. It’ll be great to be back home in front of our fans and we’ll need that Dawg Pound to be barking on Sunday.”
Cleveland police want to remind fans that the Muni Lot opened at 7:00 a.m. and vehicles will not be permitted inside before that time. Parking restrictions will also be in place downtown and violators will be ticketed and towed.