Leading up to the Cleveland Browns and Pittsburgh Steelers wildcard game on Sunday evening has been chatter.
Some would argue that Steelers WR JuJu Smith-Schuster‘s chatter gave the Browns bulletin board material.
— Jake Trotter (@Jake_Trotter) January 8, 2021
“I think they’re still the same Browns teams I play every year. I think they’re nameless gray faces. They have a couple good players on their team, but at the end of the day, I don’t know. The Browns is the Browns.”
Myles Garrett’s Take
Garrett shut down the chatter with the perfect (and true) comeback.
“We’ll have to prove it when we see them on Sunday.”
True to his competitive spirit, Garrett added:
“Nobody’s going to sit here and tell you we’re counting ourselves out. These guys are hungry, and we’re going to take it to them.”
Garrett and the Browns are motivated and will be ready.
#Browns DE Myles Garrett on whether they're using COVID-19 adversity as rallying cry: Like Stefanski has always said to us, you don't rise to the occasion, you fall to the level of your preparation. … These guys are hungry
— Nate Ulrich (@ByNateUlrich) January 8, 2021
Plenty Of Interpretations
No one but Smith-Schuster knows what he meant by the comment.
We do know that Mike Tomlin typically uses the phrase “nameless gray faces” when talking with his team.
“It really means like everybody else is just a smiley-face T-shirt, like, we don’t care about you. That if we go out and if the Pittsburgh Steelers do what the Pittsburgh Steelers are supposed to do, we beat anybody.”
Steelers Have Owned The Rivalry
Past statistics tell us that the Steelers have owned this rivalry.
The Steelers are 35-7-1 against the Browns since 2000.
Ben Roethlisberger also owns the Browns with a 23-2-1 record over his career.
Factoring in the Steelers dominance plus the Browns issues with COVID-19, it is not surprising that the Steelers are 6 point favorites on Sunday night.
History And Statistics Do Not Play The Game
On Sunday night, the recent history and the statistics of the Steelers dominance over the Browns mean nothing.
The Steelers had some outstanding teams during those years; whereas the Browns openly struggled.
So Myles Garrett is 100% correct, it is on the Browns to show the Steelers on Sunday night who they are.
If Smith-Schuster’s comments inspire them further, that is all the better.
The Browns have a lot to play for on Sunday.
They want to win for their coach who is watching from home and for Joel Bitonio the longest-tenured Cleveland Brown who is also suffering from COVID-19.
The Browns want to turn the page on this rivalry.
And the only way to do it is to win.
To borrow a Shakespearean phrase, all the pregame chatter is “much ado about nothing”.
What matters is the 60 minutes of football being played on Sunday night, January 10, 2021 at Heinz Field.