Edwards Helps Re-Ignite Rivalry

In the pre-expansion era, there didn't need to be any external factors to make the Browns-Steelers game intense. That hasn't been the case since 1999, but the situation might be changing quickly, thanks to emotional Browns WR Braylon Edwards. He second-year player has done his best to light the fuse as the Browns prepare for a re-match in Pittsburgh.

A year ago, the Browns burned within because they were embarrassed in a 41-0 loss to the Steelers. They started getting ready for the rematch at the beginning of training camp.

The disappointment last month almost matched the hard feelings of the first game. The Browns led 10-0 after three quarters and 20-10 with five minutes left, but lost 24-20. Ben Roethlisberger passed for 224 yards in the fourth quarter.

The next game in this lopsided turnpike rivalry is Thursday night in Pittsburgh. Both teams are disappointed about the way the 2006 season has unfolded, but that does not mean there will be nothing to play for in the nationally televised game from Heinz Field. Braylon Edwards, the Browns receiver who is never at a loss for words, has made sure of that.

"They're not a good team," Edwards said after the four-point loss Nov. 19. "I mean, what does it say? They were 3-6 and we were 3-6. To hell with the Steelers. They're not doing anything right now. They still have a losing record just like us."

One reason the Browns could hope for a better outcome Thursday is cornerback Leigh Bodden has returned to the lineup after missing three games, including the first Steelers game, with a sprained left ankle. The young cornerbacks who played while Bodden mended did their best to hold down the fort, but they were exposed when the Steelers went with a spread offense. The Bengals did the same thing Nov. 26 and won 30-0.

"During the fourth quarter, they went to a no-huddle and we struggled with it," coach Romeo Crennel said. "We struggled because we didn't make the plays. We had opportunities to make plays. Their receivers were making catches and their quarterback was running around, but we weren't making the play. Even though the results say we didn't handle the no-huddle, we didn't make the play on the no-huddle. There is a difference in that."

In other words, Crennel expects better results this time. The reality is, the only reasons the score was as close as it was in the 24-20 loss was Daven Holly returned an interception 57 yards for a touchdown and Joshua Cribbs returned a kick 92 yards for a touchdown. The Browns cannot count on that in the rematch.

The offense went 10 straight quarters without a touchdown. The drought ended on the Browns' first drive in their 31-28 overtime victory over the Chiefs last Sunday when Charlie Frye threw a 23-yard touchdown pass to Braylon Edwards. It was the first time this season they scored on their first possession and only their second first quarter touchdown.

Frye threw the touchdown pass with an injured right wrist. He was replaced by Derek Anderson. Anderson threw two touchdown passes to Steve Heiden in the fourth quarter and ran 33 yards in overtime to set up the game-winning field goal by Phil Dawson.

The Browns won't know until later in the week whether Anderson will have to start against the Steelers.


PLAYER NOTES

  • A knee injury kept DE Orpheus Roye out of the game against the Chiefs. Simon Fraser replaced him.
  • The game-winning field goal by Phil Dawson was the eighth of his career and his fourth on the final play.
  • WR Joe Jurevicius caught a season-high six passes for 75 yards.
  • RB Reuben Droughns, benched last week, led the Browns with 70 yards rushing.
  • TE Kellen Winslow caught only one pass, but it was in overtime and went for 26 yards.

The OBR Top Stories