I have been a Steelers fan since I started watching the NFL at age seven in 1968. From the 70’s until the mid 90’s when the Cleveland Browns moved to Baltimore to become the Baltimore Ravens- the Steelers- Browns had a great rivalry. Even in the 70’s when the Steelers won four Super Bowls- you could never take the Browns lightly.
In the early days it wasn’t much of a rivalry. The Cleveland Browns entered the NFL in 1950 and won the first seven Steelers- Browns games. In the 1950’s and 60’s the Steelers were about what the Browns have been the past twenty years- doormats of the league- in the 50’s the Browns won 16 of the 20 games between the teams. In the 60’s it wasn’t much better with the Browns coming out on top 15 out of the 20 times they played.
The rivalry started to slowly turn in 1969 when the Steelers hired as their head coach- an ex-Brown offensive lineman named Chuck Noll. Noll turned the joke of the league around quickly- after a 1-13 first season they were in the playoffs in year 4- 1972. The Steelers would win 4 Super Bowls in the 70’s and they beat the Browns 15 out of the 20 times they met. Even then though the Browns were not a team to overlook. It was always a tough, bitter game- the biggest rivalry either team had. In the 1980’s overall the Browns had the better teams- the Steelers were still competitive though. The Browns won the decade battle though 12 to 8. The Steelers started to rebound in the 1990’s under new coach Bill Cowher and won 10 of 15. The Browns moved to Baltimore after 1995. The Steelers rivalry would continue with the Baltimore Ravens- it is their biggest rival to this day- but they have been the Ravens now for over 20 years.
The Cleveland Browns returned as an expansion team in 1999. Amazingly as an expansion team the Browns split with the Steelers in 1999 their first season. Embarrassing from a Steeler fans view. Shouldn’t have happened. In 2000 the Browns won the first game they played that season. After that the Steelers dominated winning 18 out of the next 20. [for a 2000’s decade record of 18-3. So far in the 2010’s decade the Steelers have beaten the Browns 15-2- 1 tie. So if you go back to the past 37 games the Steelers have gone 33-4-1 against the Browns. It isn’t a rivalry when one team owns the other- it’s like Texas vs Rice. The Browns in the early 70’s had a 33-10 lead in the match-ups. Now- in 134 total meetings the Steelers hold a 75-58-1 advantage.
But sadly I see the Steelers being the Browns Daddy coming to an end. This year they tied in week one and the Steelers won the second match up in late October but the times they are a changing. The Steelers are still a winning team- but are struggling late in the season as the Browns who in 2016-17 had a combined 1-31 record- are a much improved team- and improving as the 2018 season goes on- they are 5-7-1 on the season and have won 3 of their last 4 games. They have played their two games this year- and it is probably a good thing they got those games out of the way early- from my standpoint. Right now the Browns are simply playing better football than my Steelers.
The days when I would look at the fixtures each season and count 2 wins for the Steelers against the Browns are over. In 2019 it will be a battle. The rivalry will be back on after being dormant for a couple decades. It is a sad realization but it couldn’t go on forever. Sooner or later the Browns had to get their act together. They are an upcoming team. The Steelers I don’t know right now what direction they are going but with Big Ben now at 35 they are sooner rather than later- going to need to find a replacement for him. In a league where you need a good quarterback to win- do they have the replacement on the current roster?
I am already predicting the team to beat in the AFC North next year will be the Browns.