By Danny Cox
The Cleveland Browns know that they haven’t accomplished a whole lot this season, and that they can’t possibly finish with a winning record. The best they can do is end up with a 6-10 record, but still end up in the cellar of the AFC North. Neither of those really look quite promising or worth bragging about.
A victory on Sunday though, would give them at least one thing to brag and be proud about. Winning the 2012 season finale would give the Browns a clean sweep over the Pittsburgh Steelers for the first time since 1988.
The Steelers were mathematically eliminated from the playoffs this past weekend after losing to the Cincinnati Bengals. It was their third loss in a row, and they hope that the Browns coming to Heinz Field on Sunday will help stop the bleeding.
If that’s going to happen though, it won’t be easy.
Back in week 12, the Browns welcomed the Steelers into their home and sent them out with a 20-14 loss. Making matters even worse for Pittsburgh was that the Browns got this big win in a way that had made the Steelers famous for decades…old fashioned defense.
Cleveland forced eight turnovers from the Steelers in that first game, but there will be a few differences this week. That game took place during Ben Roethlisberger’s absence due to an injured shoulder, and back-up Charlie Batch ended up throwing three interceptions.
That’s not too shabby though, for a passing defense that is ranked 27th in the league out of the 32 NFL teams. The Browns will need every ounce of defensive energy they had a few weeks ago though because the Steelers don’t want to go out with a fourth straight loss.
The Browns are merely hoping to get their first win in Pittsburgh since October of 2003.
If they’re going to do so though, they may have to do it without either of their top two quarterbacks. Both Brandon Weeden and Colt McCoy missed practice this week with shoulder injuries. Neither has been ruled out officially as of yet, but if they are, then Thad Lewis would be making his NFL debut against a hungry Steelers’ defense.
Josh Johnson would then serve as the team’s back-up. He was just signed by the Browns on Wednesday.
Making matters worse for the Browns is that they could also be playing without their running back sensation Trent Richardson. He was carted off the field this past Sunday with a left ankle injury, and was also held out of practice on Wednesday.
Richardson was a big part of this season’s earlier victory over the Steelers. In that 20-14 win, Richardson had 85 yards and a touchdown. If he can’t go, Montario Hardesty is the next best option at running back for the Browns, but he’s got only 234 yards on the ground and one touchdown this season.
Cleveland knows that they aren’t sniffing the playoffs this season, and that a victory on Sunday wouldn’t really do much of anything for the franchise. Still, the great sense of pride it would bring to the team and its players is something that can’t be matched, and they are hoping to take down the Steelers and their “Terrible Towels” for the second time this season.
In order for that to happen, the Browns are going to give every single thing they’ve got. That goes for no matter who will be on the field.
For more Local Football Bloggers and the latest Steelers news, see CBS Sports Pittsburgh.
Danny Cox knows a little something about the NFL, whether it means letting you know what penalty will come from the flag just thrown on the field or quickly spouting off who the Chicago Bears drafted in the first round of the 1987 draft (Jim Harbaugh). He plans on bringing you the best news, previews, recaps, and anything else that may come along with the exciting world of the National Football League. His work can be found on Examiner.com.