CLEVELAND -- The Cleveland Browns are 0-10 and remain the only winless team in the National Football League thus far through the 2016 season, but the record is of little consequence to their upcoming opponent, the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Although the Browns rank second-to-last in points, yards and rushing yards allowed, the Steelers are not taking anything for granted as they get ready to travel to Cleveland for an AFC North Division game at FirstEnergy Stadium with a chance to break a four-game slide of their own.
“When you watch them on defense, they are close games,” Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said. “Out of half of the games you have played, you have either been tied or had a lead at halftime. It is just, like I said, at the end of a game, things like that happen.
“It is a relatively familiar-looking defense. Obviously, Ray (Horton) is over there, who was here for a long time, so you see a lot of similarities in what we see here and mixing it up. For me and I think the biggest challenge for us is going to be identifying who to block because they get guys moving around.”
After scoring 25 straight points to claim the first meeting in Cleveland, the Baltimore Ravens another scored 25 unanswered over the final 31 minutes of play and earned a 28-7 win over the Browns in last Thursday’s game at M&T Bank Stadium.
Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco completed 30 of his 41 attempts for 296 yards and three touchdowns, all of which came after halftime. Running the football, the Browns were doubled up by one player, as former Cleveland rusher Terrance West totaled 65 yards on 21 carries. Conversely, the Browns rushed for just 30 yards on 13 carries as a team.
Horton has been the topic of much debate and discussion, mainly because his side of the football ranks near the bottom of the NFL in many statistical categories, including points (30.1), yards (419.1) and rushing yards (143.7) allowed per game.
“I think it is a little tricky,” Roethlisberger said. “You look at it, and yeah, they are giving up points, but it has been a close game. They have been tied or had a lead, I think, five times.
“You look at some of the scores, it might have been late scores or things like that or a turnover here late that makes the score look worse than it is. I think it is deceiving to think they are a defense that gives up a lot of points. I think that it is end-of-game type things.”
What makes things particularly tricky for Roethlisberger is the fact that the Browns have beefed up their defense as of late, especially with the addition of linebacker Jamie Collins.
Since joining the Browns through a trade with the New England Patriots three weeks ago, Collins has registered 18 total tackles, including 12 solo stops and six assists, and one sack.
“He is a physical freak,” Roethlisberger said. “He has good size, athletic ability, and is able to read and react well, can cover, also can blitz and you never know where he is going to be.
“You watch on film, and it looks like he is supposed to have contain and he shoots the gap real quick and sacks the quarterback or he is lined above the ball looking like coverage, and then, he blitzes and sacks somebody. His athleticism and his size and his presence is definitely a challenge for us.”