Game Snapshot: Browns vs. Steelers

The experts at TheInsiders network offer their objective take on Sunday's big showdown between the Browns and Steelers. Everything you need to know to get ready for the game!

Cleveland Browns (2-2) at Pittsburgh Steelers (3-1)

KICKOFF: Sunday, 1:00 ET

GAMEDATE: 10/10/04


TV: CBS, Gus Johnson, Brent Jones

SERIES: 103rd meeting. The Browns lead the series 55-47. No teams in the AFC have played each other as much as Cleveland and Pittsburgh. The Steelers have won five of the last six meetings, including a 36-33 win in a wild-card game in January 2003. The Browns' only victory in that span was a 33-13 rout in Pittsburgh last October.

2004 RANKINGS: Browns: offense 31st (20th rush, 30th pass); defense 20th (8th rush, 26th pass). Steelers: offense 24th (7th rush, 28th pass); defense 5th (11th rush, 5th pass)

KEYS TO THE GAME: Steelers rookie QB Ben Roethlisberger has not thrown an interception since his first regular-season attempt, 46 passes ago. The Browns are expected to be without DT Gerard Warren, but must find a way to pressure the rookie and prevent him from becoming comfortable in the pocket. RB Duce Staley is coming off consecutive 100-yard rushing games and the Steelers will attempt to get him involved early to put Roethlisberger in manageable situations. Cleveland's offensive line struggled against Baltimore's 3-4 defensive front in will need to work better against Pittsburgh's. The Steelers lead the AFC with 11 takeaways, so expect the Browns to rely heavily on RBs Lee Suggs and William Green to prevent QB Jeff Garcia from facing long passing situations.
FAST FACTS: Browns: K Phil Dawson has converted 18 consecutive field-goal opportunities. ... Lead the series 55-49. Steelers: The offense has scored touchdown on nine of 11 red-zone possessions (81.8 percent). ... Roethlisberger is the team's first rookie quarterback to win his first two starts since Mike Kruczek in 1976.
PREDICTION: Browns 17-16



  • RT Ryan Tucker has jogged in pads the last two days but he says doctors are being cautious and might not let him play until next week. He missed the last two games with a torn right quadriceps. Joaquin Gonzalez will start if Tucker does not.
  • DT Gerard Warren has resigned himself to missing a third straight game with a strained pectoral muscle. Michael Myers will start.
  • First-year P Derrick Frost leads the NFL with a 40.8 net average. His overall punting average is 43.9 on 23 punts.
  • DB Leigh Bodden leads the team in special teams tackles. Bodden is looking forward to playing the Steelers in Heinz Field because he went to Duquesne University, about 10 minutes from downtown Pittsburgh.
  • WR Andre Davis has 10 catches for 216 yards, a 21.6 average. His highest per catch average until now was 14.4 on 40 catches last year.
  • LB James Farrior is tied for the NFL lead with three fumble recoveries on defense. Farrior also is second on the team with 30 tackles, has an interception and two passes defensed.
  • CB Deshea Townsend leads everyone in the secondary with four passes defensed and he's tied with Troy Polamalu with two interceptions and tied for the team lead with two sacks.
  • WR Antwaan Randle El has completed 10 of 12 passes in his first two years in the league, but has yet to attempt one in 2004.
  • QB Ben Roethlisberger has not thrown an interception in his past 46 attempts. During that time, he's thrown two touchdowns.
  • WR Hines Ward needs eight yards receiving to move past Hall of Famer Lynn Swann as the third-leading receiver in Steelers history. Ward has 5,455 yards in his seventh season.


Coach Butch Davis isn't naming his starting running backs against the Steelers, but he says it doesn't matter because it will be running back by committee.

Lee Suggs carried 22 times last week against Washington. William Green carried four times. Suggs Thursday said he is "curious" about how playing time will be divided this week.

"It will be nice to start, but I just want to play," Suggs said. "Everybody has their own opinion how it should be handled. A running back needs to be in a rhythm to play his best. It's not my call. If it were my team it would be different. I just have to go with what the coaches call."

On Wednesday quarterback Jeff Garcia said a realistic split is 70-30 or 60-40. Garcia did not say which running back should get the majority of carries, and Davis did not comment on what his quarterback said.

Green spoke to reporters Sept. 26 when he rushed for 91 yards against the Giants, but he ducked the locker room all but one day since and on that day he refused to talk.

Suggs says he and Green have "a good relationship." He understands why Green has been in hiding.

"It goes without saying (that Green is down about the situation)," Suggs said.

"Both those guys will get opportunities to play," Davis said. "Ego shouldn't come into play if the No. 1 objective is winning. They could both be hot. It's a matter of keeping them fresh and getting them in the game."


Jerome Bettis, who has only 18 carries and 22 yards, could make his first start of the season at running back for Pittsburgh against Cleveland on Sunday in Heinz Field.

Duce Staley, off to his fastest start with 372 yards rushing, was downgraded by the Steelers on Thursday because of a sprained big toe. Staley did not practice Wednesday or Thursday.

Bettis, the NFL's sixth-leading rusher with 12,375 yards, lost his starting job to Staley, who signed as a free agent with the Steelers from the Philadelphia Eagles. Bettis' role was reduced to a goalline back and he's rushed for five touchdowns to tie for the league high.

Staley, who has never run for three straight 100-yard games, topped 100 yards each of the past two games. His 87 carries are only nine fewer than he had all last season with the Eagles. He has not missed a game since 2001.

Bettis' last 1,000-yard season came in 2001. He opened last season on the bench behind Amos Zereoue, then reclaimed his starting job after six games and finished with 811 yards rushing. He passed four players on the all-time list last season and needs 365 yards to pass Tony Dorsett at No. 5. However, Curtis Martin at No. 10 is closing fast. Martin is only 281 behind Bettis.

Verron Haynes, the team's third-down back, also could see more action if Staley either cannot play or his playing time is limited by his injury.


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