Big game against the Browns

<p class=MsoTitle>The Browns-Steelers game is not what it used to be. Well, maybe it is. Just that the Browns aren't what they used to be. They are now the Ravens and the rivalry seems to have followed Art Modell to Baltimore.</p> <p class=MsoTitle>Pittsburgh Steeler week began in Cleveland almost a few hours after the Browns pulled off a dramatic victory against the New York Jets. In Pittsburgh, Cleveland Browns week started… has it started yet?</p>

While Browns fans quickly shifted their attentions to the hated Steelers and a shot at first place, Steeler fans had plenty to talk about in terms of the Baltimore Ravens.  The talk of Pittsburgh was the fight between WR Plaxico Burress and DB James Trapp.  The Steelers were incensed at Trapp for stepping on Burress' helmet and then ripping it off.

Just like last season, the war of words continued before, during, and after the game.

Ravens quarterback Jeff Blake, "I mean, they're a good football team, but they're not that good. They didn't stop our offense. We moved the ball up and down the field. We stopped ourselves. They did a great job on offense, so I take my hat off to that. But I think we moved the ball very well for a team that had a quarterback find out he was playing just before the game."

And LB Ed Hartwell, "I don't think they're that much better than us.  We just made mistakes, and they capitalized on them. They just did what they're supposed to do. Better than us? No, we came back in the second half and proved they weren't better than us."

Seems as if the Ravens and the Steelers cannot solve things on the field of play.

Burress did nothing to quell the growing animosity, "Who is Gary Baxter? He wasn't even on the scouting report. I don't know who Gary Baxter is. What number does he wear? He's terrible."

And, of course, a comment on CB Chris McAlister, "I love playing against Chris McAlister.  He's cocky. He's arrogant. He needs to worry about coverage."

This is a carryover from last season when Burress torched the Ravens after being called Plexiglass by Shannon Sharpe.  Both the Steelers and Ravens exchanged quite a few verbal jabs in the press.  The Steelers would get the best of the Ravens on the field and the normally talkative Ravens were suddenly quiet.

Not this year.  The bad blood boiled over on the field and carried over into the locker room.  Also, things got ugly in the stands as fans of both teams went at it.  The players don't like each other.  The fans don't like each other.  And even the coaches don't seem to like each other (Cowher taking exception to Billick's boast about being undefeated in Pittsburgh)

Sounds like the good old days when the Steelers-Browns rivalry was everything.  Part of that changed when Bill Cowher became head coach.  Cowher had spent time as part of the Browns organization and carried a certain amount of respect for the team and the city.  Then Modell did his dirty work and hijacked the team to Baltimore and thus ended one of the best hate-fests in the NFL.  How many Browns fans went to see Three Rivers Stadium blow up?

Even the fans of the expansion Browns don't loathe the Steelers like they used to.  They really hate the Ravens, mostly thanks to Modell.  Seeing the Ravens win a Super Bowl that could have been for Cleveland only fueled the fire.  Cleveland is only just beginning to come out from under the expansion label.  While Steeler fans have been more concerned with the Raven and in the recent past, the Jaguars and Titans.

Rooney really wanted to keep the Browns-Steelers rivalry together in realignment.  But it was too late.  Modell destroyed what was left of that tradition.  Perhaps the Browns and Steelers might build a new one, but not if Baltimore has anything to say about it.







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