Browns prepare for battle against Steelers, hope to advance in playoffs

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CLEVELAND (WJW) — It took 18 long years, but here they are, the Cleveland Browns and the NFL playoffs are reunited. 

“It’s amazing, it’s definitely a different feeling, being from here and knowing the struggles of the past we have been through, I can’t even describe how I feel,” Browns running back Kareem Hunt said.  

The Cleveland Browns and Pittsburgh Steelers met in the first round the last time Cleveland was in the playoffs.  The two teams are meeting for a third time this season and a second time in seven days. 

“A lot of the presentations we are going to give the players will be very fresh,” said head coach Kevin Stefanski. “They will have seen a lot of these plays already so you coach them off of your previous game a lot, and they are doing the same. Neither of our teams are going to wholesale change their schemes here in the Wild Card playoffs.”  

Despite playing the same team in back-to-back weeks, both teams will be a little different, for the Steelers, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger will be back under center. 

“The biggest thing for us is just focusing on what we have to do,” said defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi. “A lot of times, you can get caught up in everything else that is going on. We have respect for them. Like you just said, it has been kind of a one-sided battle for a long time, but this is a different team.” 

One of the keys to winning in the playoffs, running the football, expect to see more of Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt this week. 

“When you can run the ball, it really helps you in all the other aspects of the game, because when you run the ball well, the play-action runs well and drop backs and then teams really worry about the run and it leads to open passers,” said offensive lineman Jack Conklin.  

The Browns snapped one streak a week ago beating the Steelers in a season finale, they will try to break another streak this week at Heinz Field, a place they haven’t won at since 2003. 

“They just come ready to play in their hometown, they are defending their stadium, that’s a good football team,” Hunt said. 

The Browns will be without their head coach Stefanski, their star offensive lineman Joel Bitonio and their top cornerback due to COVID-19. Mike Priefer, a Cleveland native, will serve as acting head coach. Offensive Coordinator Alex Van Pelt will call the plays in place of Stefanski.

The Browns are looking for their first playoff win since 1995 and their first road playoff win since 1969.

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