First Call: Steelers rare history as underdogs vs. Browns; Ben Cherington as Pirates GM? |
Breakfast With Benz

First Call: Steelers rare history as underdogs vs. Browns; Ben Cherington as Pirates GM?

Tim Benz
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Cleveland Browns’ Ben Tate celebrates his first touchdown of the game during the second quarter Sunday, Oct. 12, 2014, at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland. Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback William Gay is in the background.

They’ve tied.

They’ve needed overtime to win.

They relied on Landry Jones.

But the Pittsburgh Steelers haven’t lost to the Cleveland Browns since 2014.

It was a 31-10 beat down by the Browns in Week 6 of that year. And it wasn’t even that close.

That was also the last time the Steelers entered a game against the Browns as an underdog. Most lines opened this week with the Steelers (5-4) as a 3-point underdog in Cleveland (3-6) Thursday night.

Since Cleveland’s return to the league in 1999, the Steelers have only been an underdog tothe Browns four times. Via the ESPN’s PickCenter, the Browns failed to cover on three of those occasions, with that 2014 game being the exception. Depending on the line being used, DraftKings has the Browns as 1-2 against the Steelers both straight up and against the spread during that time.

Block that 2014 result out of your memory? Need a reminder? Here are some lowlights.

• Shaun Suisham kicked an early field goal to give the Steelers a 3-0 lead. Then the Browns scored the next 31 points before former Steelers receiving legend Lance Moore scored a meaningless touchdown with two minutes left.

• Ben Roethlisberger was 21-42 with an interception. Le’Veon Bell had 105 yards from scrimmage. Antonio Brown had 110 yards receiving.

• Brian Hoyer — yes, that Brian Hoyer who the Steelers just beat as the Indianapolis Colts backup — won the game despite completing only eight passes.

• The Steelers botched a field goal that Brad Wing ended up aborting. That eventually led to a Cleveland touchdown.

• Ben Tate had 78 yards rushing and two touchdowns. Later in that season, he would infamously become a Steeler for a week, getting signed off the street to replace Le’Veon Bell when he got injured in the last game of the regular season.

Tate had 19 yards on five carries in the Steelers’ loss to the Baltimore Ravens in the first round of the playoffs.

The Browns ended up 7-9. The Steelers went 11-5 and won the division before dropping that postseason game at Heinz Field to the Ravens.

First Call headlines

• Ben Cherington’s name is being thrown around as a candidate to replace Neal Huntington as general manager of the Pirates. He was the G.M. of the Boston Red Sox when they won the World Series back in 2013. But things quickly went south from there and he was fired in 2015. Here’s a brief look back at his tenure with Boston. looked ahead to the NFL Draft order based on standings as of now. Currently, the Minkah Fitzpatrick pick traded by the Steelers to Miami comes in at No. 22 in the first round. So the value of acquiring Fitzpatrick continues to look better and better.

• The Penguins are entering Tuesday night’s game in New York as Artemi Panerin and Ryan Strome are enjoying hot streaks for the Rangers.

• I know this one will shock you, but the New York Yankees are laying the foundation for a run at Gerrit Cole or Stephen Strasburg or both.

Tim Benz is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Tim at [email protected] or via Twitter. All tweets could be reposted. All emails are subject to publication unless specified otherwise.

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