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2012 Opponents: Pittsburgh Steelers

Posted Jul 19, 2012

As the 2012 season approaches, ClevelandBrowns.com looks at the Browns’ regular season opponents. Today, we highlight the two games against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Browns vs. Steelers -- Nov. 25 -- 1 p.m. ET/Browns at Steelers -- Dec. 30 -- 1 p.m. ET

Storylines:

The Cleveland Browns will face the Pittsburgh Steelers twice over the 2012 regular season’s final six weeks, first in Cleveland Browns Stadium and then, at Pittsburgh’s Heinz Field.

For the first time since 2008, the Browns will end the season at Pittsburgh. In their history, the Browns have ended the year at Pittsburgh on seven different occasions. Cleveland is 1-6 in those meetings, with its lone win coming in 1987. The Browns defeated the Steelers 19-13 at Three Rivers Stadium that day.

The Steelers won both games against the Browns in 2011.

The Browns first fell to the Steelers 14-3 at Heinz Field on Dec. 8. It was the team’s first of three straight road games, with the next two at Arizona’s University of Phoenix Stadium (Dec. 18) and M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore (Dec. 24).

The Browns took an early lead against the Steelers when Phil Dawson connected on a 20-yard field goal with 9:22 remaining in the first quarter at Heinz Field last December. However, the lead was short-lived as the Steelers marched down the field and took the advantage when quarterback Ben Roethlisberger connected with veteran wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery on an 11-yard touchdown pass.

After a fourth-quarter interception of Colt McCoy in the end zone, the Steelers again took to the air to get on the scoreboard. Just two plays into the ensuing drive, Roethlisberger threw a 79-yard touchdown pass to Antonio Brown, who slipped past Joe Haden as the second-year defender lost his balance while trying to plant his foot in the grass.

The Browns held the ball for 32:18, as opposed to just 27:42 for the Steelers. However, the Steelers outgained the Browns 416 to 304 in total yards, 269 to 206 through the air and 147 to 98 on the ground.

When the teams renewed the rivalry on Jan. 1, 2012, at Cleveland Browns Stadium, the Steelers withstood a “Hail Mary” pass from the Browns in the final seconds and sealed a 13-9 come-from-behind victory.

Dawson gave the Browns a 3-0 lead with a 26-yard field goal at the 6:03 mark of the second quarter. He later added a 45-yarder with just 1:06 remaining in the half. However, Shaun Suisham’s 19-yard field goal cut the Browns’ lead to 6-3 at halftime.

Suisham knotted the score with a 29-yarder in the third. The Steelers then went ahead for good when running back Isaac Redman, in for the injured Rashard Mendenhall, scored on a seven-yard touchdown run.

Stats:

The Steelers finished second in the AFC North Division behind the Baltimore Ravens in 2011, but they were able to win the statistical battle in most of their games.

For the season, the Steelers had 341 first downs, 90 third down conversions, 5,957 total offensive yards, 1,903 rushing yards and 4,054 yards through the air. Pittsburgh scored 36 touchdowns and allowed opponents to score just 23. However, the Steelers were minus-13 in the turnover ratio, despite having an average of a five-minute edge in time of possession.

Roethlisberger carried a 90.1 quarterback rating after he completed 324 of 513 attempts (63.2 percent) for 4,077 yards and 21 touchdowns against 14 interceptions. While he was able to make throws by extending plays with his scrambling ability, Roethlisberger took more hits than almost any quarterback in the NFL. He was sacked 40 times for 269 lost yards.

When Roethlisberger was able to make plays in the passing game, Brown and Mike Wallace were his two most frequented targets. Wallace led the team in all of the major categories. He caught 72 balls for 1,193 yards and eight touchdowns with a long reception of 95 yards and a 16.6 yards-per-catch average.

Brown caught 69 passes for 1,108 yards and two touchdowns.

Brown was a weapon for the Steelers on special teams as well. He returned 30 punts for an average of 10.8 yards and had one touchdown. On kickoffs, Brown gained 737 yards and averaged 27.3 yards-per-return.

Mendenhall rushed for 928 yards and nine touchdowns on 228 carries, but was injured against the Browns in the season finale and missed the Steelers’ playoff loss at the Denver Broncos in January. When Mendenhall needed a break, Redman gained 479 yards and scored three touchdowns on 110 carries.

Safety Ryan Clark led the way for the Steelers’ defense with 100 total tackles and 71 solo efforts. Linebackers James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley each registered nine quarterback sacks last fall.

Familiar Faces:

Browns offensive linemen Jake Anderson (Erie) and Jason Pinkston (Pittsburgh), defensive backs Antwuan Reed (Johnstown) and Ray Ventrone (Pittsburgh), defensive lineman Scott Paxson (Philadelphia) and wide receiver Jordan Norwood (State College) are Pennsylvania natives.

Norwood (Penn State), Paxson (Penn State), Pinkston (University of Pittsburgh), Reed (Pittsburgh) and Ventrone (Villanova) went to college in Pennsylvania.

Paxson played for the Steelers in 2008 and got a championship ring from Pittsburgh’s win over the Arizona Cardinals in Super Bowl XLIII.

Browns quarterbacks coach Mark Whipple held the same position with the Steelers from 2004-06.

Steelers tackle Mike Adams (Dublin/Coffman High School), defensive back Will Allen (Dayton/Huber Heights Wayne), linebacker James Harrison (Akron/Coventry), Ben Roethlisberger (Lima/Findlay) and defensive end Jake Stoller (Shaker Heights) are Ohio natives.

Defensive end Cameron Heyward, Adams and Allen (The Ohio State University), Harrison (Kent State), Roethlisberger (Miami of Ohio) and Suisham (Bowling Green State University) went to college in Ohio.

Steelers assistant head coach/defensive coach John Mitchell started his coaching career with the Browns from 1991-93, where he mentored Pro Bowl defensive tackles Michael Dean Perry and Rob Burnett.

Linebackers coach Keith Butler held a similar position with the Browns from 1999-2002.

Steelers quarterbacks coach Randy Fichtner is a native of Cleveland.

Defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau started his Hall of Fame playing career with the Browns in 1959. A native of London, Ohio, LeBeau played his college football at The Ohio State University.

History:

The Browns are 56-62-0 all-time against the Steelers dating back to the first meeting between the teams, a 30-17 Cleveland road win on Oct. 7, 1950. The Browns are 35-24-0 at home and 21-38-0 in road games against the Steelers.

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