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What to Watch For, Presented by Arby's

Posted Nov 21, 2012

Joe Thomas and the Cleveland Browns renew their rivalry with James Harrison and the Pittsburgh Steelers at Cleveland Browns Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

The Cleveland Browns will renew their rivalry with the Pittsburgh Steelers with Sunday’s AFC North Division battle at Cleveland Browns Stadium.

The Browns have already completed their regular-season series’ against the Baltimore Ravens and Cincinnati Bengals and posted a 1-3 mark in those four games.

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.

Cleveland lost both games to the Steelers last season, including a 13-9 decision in the 2012 regular-season finale at Cleveland Browns Stadium. Browns kicker Phil Dawson converted all three of his field goal attempts, kicks that were good from 26, 45 and 49 yards respectively.

Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger completed 23 of 40 attempts for 221 yards and spread the ball out to nine different players, including wide receiver Antonio Brown, who caught six passes for 90 yards in the win. Running back Isaac Redman rushed for 92 yards and one touchdown on 19 carries after picking up the bulk of the workload when Rashard Mendenhall suffered a season-ending knee injury early in the game.

As the game unfolds, here are several things to keep an eye on:

Running back Trent Richardson. In 10 games this season, Richardson has rushed for 670 yards and five touchdowns on 180 carries. He also leads the team with 37 receptions for 289 yards. He is tied with Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III for the second-most points scored (36) by a rookie in the NFL.

Richardson’s 959 yards of total offense rank second behind Tampa Bay’s Doug Martin (1,319), while his 670 yards rushing are third in the league among first-year players. He is second in the NFL in receptions by a rookie and third with 36 first downs.

With 100 yards rushing against the Steelers, Richardson would be the first Browns rookie ever to rush for 100 or more yards in four games during a single season.

Quarterback Brandon Weeden. Weeden completed 20 of 35 attempts for 210 yards and two touchdowns in a loss at the Dallas Cowboys last Sunday.

On the season, Weeden has completed 205 of 371 attempts for 2,298 yards with 11 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. Weeden has thrown for 300 or more yards twice in 10 games and has three of the top four single-game passing yardage totals ever by a Browns rookie.

Weeden also has thrown the second and fifth-longest touchdowns by a Browns rookie quarterback. He has completed 71-yard and 62-yard touchdown passes to wide receiver Josh Gordon. Weeden ranks second among NFL rookies in passing yards, passing first downs (118), and completions of 20 or more yards (32).

With a 300-yard game against the Cowboys, Weeden would join Derek Anderson, Bernie Kosar, Brian Sipe and Pro Football Hall of Famer, the late Otto Graham, as the only quarterbacks in team history to throw for 300 or more yards at least three times in a single season. Anderson (three in 2007) and Graham (three in 1950) each accomplished the feat once, while Kosar (three each in 1986 and 1987) reached the mark twice. Sipe tossed four 300-yard games in 1979, and again in 1983, and six in 1980.

With 150 yards passing Sunday, Weeden would pass Tim Couch for the most single-season passing yards by a Browns rookie. Couch threw for 2,447 yards during the 1999 season.

Wide receiver Josh Gordon. Gordon leads the Browns with 470 yards and four touchdown catches on his 24 receptions this season.

Gordon is tied for the lead among all NFL rookies with the four touchdown catches and ranks second with 470 yards receiving. Gordon is tied with T.Y. Hilton of Indianapolis for the most receptions of at least 20 yards (eight) among all first-year NFL players. His 19.6 yards per reception average is third among all NFL players with at least 20 catches.

With a touchdown Sunday, Gordon would be the first Browns rookie to have five or more receiving touchdowns in a season since Andre’ Davis caught six in 2002.

Kicker Phil Dawson. The 14-year veteran is 19 of 19 on field goal attempts this season after making both of his kicks in Dallas last week. He is 10 of 10 from 40 or more yards, including a five for five mark from 50-plus. Since the start of the 2011 season, Dawson has made a league-best 12 of 13 field goals from 50 or more yards. His 25 straight field goals made is the longest active streak in the NFL and the second-longest of Dawson’s career.

Dawson has converted 295 of 351 career field goal attempts with the Browns and ranks second in team history with 1,230 points. His 84.0 field goal percentage is first all-time in team history and the eighth-best total among those NFL kickers with at least 100 career field goals made.

Dawson needs five field goals to become the 25th kicker in NFL history to make 300 or more field goals. Three field goals of 50 or more yards would tie Dawson with Morten Anderson (1995) and Jason Hanson (2008) for the most 50-yarders (eight) in a single season.

In his 24 career games against the Steelers, Dawson has gone 27 of 33 on field goal attempts and 27 of 29 on extra points. The first two game-winning field goals of Dawson’s career came against the Steelers, first, a 39-yarder as time expired at Pittsburgh on Nov. 14, 1999, and then, a 19-yard attempt with 2:45 to play on Sept. 17, 2000.

Wide receiver Joshua Cribbs. The two-time Pro Bowler has 9,689 kickoff return yards, which stands sixth on the NFL’s all-time list. He is 108 yards away from passing Glyn Milburn (9,788) for fifth on the all-time list and 284 yards shy of being the sixth player in NFL history to gain 12,000 kickoff return yards.

Cribbs’ 11,716 combined kickoff and punt return yards rank sixth on the NFL’s career list. He has returned an NFL record eight kickoffs for touchdowns and added three more scores on punt returns. The combined 11 touchdowns are fifth all-time and with one more, Cribbs would equal Dante Hall and Eric Metcalf for third place. Cribbs is also 123 yards away from passing Dennis Northcutt's mark for the most punt return yards (2,149) in franchise history.

Cribbs currently ranks sixth in the NFL in kickoff return average and fifth in punt return average. He has averaged 13.2 yards over 25 punt returns and 28.4 yards on 30 kickoffs. Since the start of the 2011 season, Cribbs has nine returns of at least 40 yards. Each of those returns led to Browns scores -- five touchdowns and four field goals.

In 14 games against Pittsburgh, Cribbs has 14 receptions for 182 yards, 148 yards on 21 carries and 42 kickoff returns for 1,063 yards and touchdowns of 92, 98 and 100 yards.

Browns offensive linemen Joe Thomas and Alex Mack. Thomas has started each of the 90 games he has played since the Browns selected him in the first round of the 2007 NFL Draft and currently ranks sixth for most consecutive starts among active offensive linemen in the NFL. Mack has started 58 straight games for the Browns.

Defensive back Sheldon Brown. The 11-year NFL veteran has played in 170 consecutive regular-season games, a mark that ranks fifth among all active defensive players. He has caught at least one interception in each of his 11 NFL seasons.

Brown has 24 career interceptions and is tied for the fourth-longest active streak of consecutive seasons with an interception. Green Bay’s Charles Woodson has had an interception in 15 straight seasons, while Denver’s Champ Bailey (14) and Cincinnati’s Nate Clements (12) rank ahead of Brown and Baltimore’s Ed Reed (11).

Brown’s 140 pass breakups since 2002 are tied for third with Tampa Bay’s Ronde Barber, trailing only Atlanta’s Asante Samuel (154) and Denver’s Champ Bailey (149).

Brown registered a career-high 16 tackles at Pittsburgh on Nov. 7, 2004, as a member of the Philadelphia Eagles.

Browns tight end Benjamin Watson. Last week, Watson caught four passes for 47 yards against the Cowboys and two of those receptions went for touchdowns. Watson caught a 10-yard touchdown pass to give the Browns a 7-0 lead in the first quarter, and later, a 17-yard score to put Cleveland back in front, 20-17, with 1:07 left in regulation.

Watson could become the first Browns tight end to record back-to-back games with two or more receiving touchdowns and the first Cleveland player to achieve the mark since wide receiver Braylon Edwards in 2007.

The Browns’ pass rush. The Browns generated seven sacks for 56 lost yards against Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo last weekend. They will be looking to register seven sacks in consecutive games for the first time in team history. The Browns last registered at least six sacks in back-to-back games during the 1988 season.

With six sacks, the Browns would pass last season’s total of 32.

Steelers linebacker James Harrison. The former Kent State University linebacker has registered 60 career sacks with the Steelers, which is tied for the second-most in team history. With a 1/2 sack on Sunday, Harrison would pass Joey Porter for second on the team’s all-time list.

Harrison has registered 21 solo tackles and 32 total stops this season. He has two sacks for 11 lost yards and eight quarterback pressures.

Tight end Heath Miller. Miller is second on the team with 45 receptions for 453 yards and is tied with wide receiver Mike Wallace with six touchdown catches this season. With one touchdown Sunday, Miller will pass Elbie Nickel (37) for the most receiving scores ever by a Steelers tight end and tie his career high of seven from the 2007 season.

Two touchdowns will tie Miller with Louis Lipps (39) for the fifth-most in Steelers history.

Quarterback Charlie Batch. Due to injuries to both Roethlisberger and Byron Leftwich, Batch will be the Steelers’ third starting quarterback in as many weeks. He has completed 863 of 1,534 attempts for 10,610 yards and 60 touchdowns against 48 interceptions in his career.

The Browns enter Sunday’s game at 2-8 overall after a 23-20 overtime loss to the Cowboys last Sunday afternoon. The Steelers come to Cleveland after a 13-10 loss to the Baltimore Ravens at Heinz Field on Sunday Night Football.

CONNECTIONS

Browns offensive lineman Jason Pinkston (Pittsburgh), defensive back Ray Ventrone (Pittsburgh) and wide receiver Jordan Norwood (State College) are Pennsylvania natives.

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

Browns defensive end Jabaal Sheard earned All-America honors at the University of Pittsburgh in 2010 after recording 52 tackles, nine sacks, four forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries as a senior captain for the Panthers, while defensive tackle Phil Taylor began his college career at Penn State University.

Browns running backs coach Gary Brown is a native of Williamsport, Penn., and played at Penn State. He also coached at Williamsport High School, as well as Lycoming and Susquehanna universities.

Browns quarterbacks coach Mark Whipple held the same position with the Steelers from 2004-06. Browns linebackers coach Bill Davis was the Steelers’ defensive quality control coach from 1992-94.

Browns defensive line coach Dwaine Board was selected by the Steelers in the fifth round of the 1979 NFL Draft.

Steelers kicker Shaun Suisham kicked for the Browns during training camp in 2010.

Steelers quarterback Brian Hoyer (Cleveland/St. Ignatius), tackle Mike Adams (Dublin/Coffman High School), defensive back Will Allen (Dayton/Huber Heights Wayne), fullback Will Johnson (Dayton/Centerville High School), linebacker James Harrison (Akron/Coventry) and Ben Roethlisberger (Lima/Findlay) 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 Ohio State.

MEDIA

Fans can watch Sunday’s game at 1 p.m. ET on local CBS affiliate WOIO-TV 19. Kevin Harlan will provide the play-by-play, while Solomon Wilcots (color analysis) will join him on the call.

The game is also available along the PNC Bank Browns Radio Network with Jim Donovan (play-by-play), Doug Dieken (color) and Jamir Howerton (sideline reporter) on the call.

What to Watch For is brought to you by Arby’s -- Arby’s Value Menu starting at one dollar will have you coming back for more without emptying your wallet.