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What it means

November 27, 2012 - Mike McLain
There was a 1980s-like feeling at Cleveland Browns Stadium last week as the Browns had a rare victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers, 20-14.

The stadium remained nearly full for all of four quarters. Sitting a few feet in front of me and separated by the glass in the press box was a drunken Browns' fan that got into a fight with a Steelers fan in the first quarter. In the tradition of fair reporting, the Steelers' fan didn't appear to be drinking and was well-behaved. Fortunately, a mediator of bar-bouncer size separated the two before security could eject any of the fans.

The game was also like the 1980s in that the Browns matched the Steelers in physicality. Five different Steelers didn't simply drop the ball; they either fumbled as a result of a hard hit or from being stripped of it. The Steelers have made a habit of doing the same thing to the Browns for a long time.

No one should take the result of the game as proof that the rivalry has is once again balanced. The Steelers still have the top defense in the NFL statistically, along with a Pro Bowl quarterback (Ben Roethlisberger) that was standing on the sideline in street clothes. There is still a ways to go for the Browns in trying to close the gap.

But that didn't matter much after the game. The Browns will take a win any way they can get one these days. When it comes against the Steelers, it's all the better.

While you can't compare the Browns favorably to the Steelers, there were signs that the Browns are making strides. They've shown no indications of giving up on the season and coach Pat Shurmur. Their defense is playing in a top-10 manner, especially against the run, and they're getting just enough from rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden and rookie running back Trent Richardson.

There is still plenty of work ahead for the Browns to be considered a playoff-caliber team, but there are promising signs on a team that's loaded with youth.

Now, if only Weeden could start to play like Bernie Kosar on a regular basis. Then it would truly seem like the 1980s.


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