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Old 10-11-2010, 01:34 AM   #1
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Default On the Steelers: Loss at Cleveland in '09 bitter

On the Steelers: Loss at Cleveland in '09 bitter
Monday, October 11, 2010
By Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The Browns sacked Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger eight times in last year's game in Cleveland.

The NFL provided the Steelers a break even as its commissioner suspended quarterback Ben Roethlisberger for the first four games of the season.

The league at least tossed the Steelers a bone by allowing Roethlisberger two weeks to practice before playing his first game, and by making sure he had a soft landing by scheduling the Cleveland Browns at Heinz Field for his comeback.

It does not get much easier than the Cleveland Browns. The Steelers have won 12 of the past 13 times they have played the Browns, 18 of the previous 20. Under normal circumstances, the Browns would be a dress rehearsal for Roethlisberger in preparation for the next three grueling games on the road at Miami, New Orleans and Cincinnati.

Except for one thing. That one loss to the Browns in their past 13 meetings occurred in their most recent one, Dec. 10, on a bitter, cold, windy night in Cleveland. The Browns, 1-11 at the time, upset the Steelers, 13-6, to provide the final blow to their playoff hopes that had hemorrhaged during a five-game losing streak.

Thanks to that game (and other losses to some of the worst teams in the league such as Oakland and Kansas City in that five-game skid), the Steelers missed the playoffs. And, thanks to that game, they will look at their contest against the Browns a whole lot differently Sunday at Heinz Field.

"That was the fifth straight game we lost. That was like really the bottom of the barrel there," linebacker James Harrison said. "That was a big letdown. We hit the bottom. We didn't think we could get any lower, but we could have. That was like the lowest of the lowest point. All we could do was go up from there."

Somehow, the Steelers rebounded to win their final three games to finish 9-7, only to lose a tiebreaker to Baltimore, which earned a wild-card playoff spot. The memory of losing in Cleveland to punctuate that five-game nosedive, however, remains strong for many.

"It was pretty bad," Hines Ward said. "Losing to Cleveland is always depressing, not only for this city but the players, too.

"The weather was crazy. It was probably the worst weather game I ever played in."

It was a game in which Steelers coach Mike Tomlin strongly had suggested he would make lineup changes after a four-game losing streak, although he made none. It also was the second game into Tomlin's threat for the Steelers to "unleash hell in December" only to lose their first two of the month, Oakland at home and then Cleveland.

Nothing was worse than that loss to the Browns, who entered with a seven-game losing streak and ranked last in the NFL on offense and defense.

It was so bad that Ward said right afterward, "To lose five straight coming off a Super Bowl from last year, it's embarrassing for me. It just hurts, it hurts a lot."

Those bitter memories, plus a rested, healthy football team playing in the mild October weather at home should provide all the incentive the Steelers might need to avoid another upset by the Browns.

"I think it was a big wake-up call," linebacker James Farrior said. "We all know we can't take any opponent lightly, but going through those games that we lost, it hit home and it really got the point across that no matter what team's out there, when you're out there to play on Sunday any team can beat you."

And did.

"We're used to winning those types of games," defensive end Brett Keisel said. "It was a close game, it was tough, we hadn't lost at Cleveland in [eight] years."

There were no team meetings called after that loss in Cleveland dropped the Steelers to 6-7. No player stood up to make a speech. The coach who saw his public promises fail to materialize stopped making them.

After losing to some of the dregs the NFL had to offer, the Steelers won their final three against some of the better teams in the league -- Green Bay, Baltimore and Miami.

Those three victories did not save their playoff chances in 2009, but they may have taken a step to saving them this season.

"I think it showed a lot of the character of this team, of this organization how we stood together and won the last three considering we were one game out of the playoffs," Ward said. "We win one of those five games, we're in the playoffs.

"I think that's fresh on lot of guys' minds, understanding we're supposed to win the games we're supposed to win. That gives us a chance to make the playoffs at the end of the year."

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/10284...#ixzz11xzR3KZ3
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Old 10-11-2010, 02:57 PM   #2
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Default Re: On the Steelers: Loss at Cleveland in '09 bitter

I thought this was a completely funny article because of the statistics (18/20 etc.) and some of the comments which while accurate, seem to disrespect the Browns.

Funny but true.

We better not lose.
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Old 10-11-2010, 03:10 PM   #3
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Default Re: On the Steelers: Loss at Cleveland in '09 bitter

I remember the recievers getting no seperation at all during that game.
Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence." - Vince Lombardi
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