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Steelers open and close 2017 season against Browns

| Thursday, April 20, 2017, 8:24 p.m.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Steelers receiver Cobi Hamilton pulls in the game winning touchdown to beat the Browns in overtime Sunday, Jan. 1, 2016 at Heinz Field.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Steelers receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey beats the Browns' Briean Boddy-Calhoun for 46 yards in the fourth quarter Sunday, Jan. 1, 2016 at Heinz Field.

Until last season, the Steelers had never played on Christmas during the franchise's illustrious history that dates to 1933.

Now, they get to do it in back-to-back seasons, and not everybody is happy about it.

Defensive lineman Cam Heyward took to Twitter to express his displeasure Thursday after the NFL unveiled its schedule and put the Steelers in Houston on Monday, Dec. 25 for a 4:30 p.m. game against the Texans.

The Steelers-Texans game is one of only two that will be played Christmas. Two games will be played Saturday, Dec. 23, and 12 will be contested Sunday, Dec. 24.

Steelers president Art Rooney II told the team website he was "surprised" to see his team play on Christmas after playing on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day last year.

"Obviously, the Christmas Day game jumped out at me first, unfortunately," Rooney said.

The Steelers will open and close the season against the Cleveland Browns with five prime-time games sandwiched in between during a six-game midseason spurt.

The Steelers open with five consecutive 1 p.m. kickoffs and play three of their first four games on the road, starting with the season opener Sunday, Sept. 10 in Cleveland. After a home game against Minnesota, the Steelers travel to Chicago and Baltimore on successive weeks.

The first half of the season concludes with a home game against the Cincinnati Bengals (Oct. 22) and a visit to the Detroit Lions on Oct. 29. That game is the first of five nationally televised games and is the Sunday night game of the week.

Following the bye week, the Steelers play at the Indianapolis Colts on Nov. 12, then embark on a run of four consecutive prime-time games: Thursday, Nov. 16 vs. Tennessee; Sunday, Nov. 26 vs. Green Bay; Monday, Dec. 4 at Cincinnati; and Sunday, Dec. 10 vs. Baltimore.

"I guess you would say they are expecting us to be in it down the homestretch this year, and they want to feature us that way," Rooney told Steelers.com.

The Super Bowl champion New England Patriots visit Heinz Field in Week 15 for a 4:25 p.m. kickoff. The Steelers conclude the regular season Sunday, Dec. 31 against the Browns.

Joe Rutter is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at jrutter@tribweb.com or via Twitter @tribjoerutter.

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