Breaking Down the Rivalry: The 10 Best Browns-Steelers Games of All Time

Brian MurtaughAnalyst IOctober 14, 2010

CLEVELAND - DECEMBER 10:  Joshua Cribbs #16 of the Cleveland Browns runs with the ball against Daniel Sepulveda #9 of the Pittsburgh Steelers on December 10, 2009 at Cleveland Browns Stadium in Cleveland, Ohio. Cleveland won the game 13-6.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

The Browns and Steelers will meet this Sunday in what will be the 117th competition between the two clubs since 1950. In what are always physical games, Pittsburgh has dominated the current rivalry but the Browns have also had some stunning victories throughout history.

The following are my top 10 Browns-Steelers games of all time.

**Note: This article was meant to be shown in slide-show form but due to technical issues it will just be a standard article. Sorry for the inconvenience**

No. 10: October 4, 1952, Browns Win 21-20

In only the second week of the 1952 season, the Cleveland Browns stunned the Steelers in a 21-20 win at Forbes Field in Pittsburgh.

Steelers quarterback Jim Finks posted one of the greatest statistical games of his career to that point as he was the leading hand in three Steeler touchdowns.

The Browns would have to come back from a 14-point deficit in this game as Cleveland posted two touchdowns in the third quarter then relied on the defense to seal the deal.

Otto Graham played hero for the Browns connecting on three touchdown passes to Dub Jones, Marion Motley and Sherman Howard.

Even though the Brownies couldn’t have done it without Graham, special teams proved to be the name of the game as Cleveland would block an extra point early in the first quarter and set the stage for the 21-20 victory.

No. 9: October 10 1964, Steelers Win 23-7

80,530 fans were in attendance in Cleveland as the Browns fell to the Steelers in Week 5 of the 1964 season.

Cleveland entered the game heavy favorites but looked sluggish early as the Steelers took advantage of poor field conditions and a young Browns offense.

Steelers running back John Henry Johnson proved to be the hero of the night for Pittsburgh as the 35-year-old rushed for 200 yards and three touchdowns.

Cleveland was undefeated to that point posting a 3-0-1 record throughout the first four weeks of the year.

No. 8: November 3, 1985 Steelers Win 10-9

Week 9 of the 1985 season brought the rivalry back to Pittsburgh as the Steelers edged out a close one late in the fourth quarter.

The Browns couldn’t manage to put the game away as Cleveland was unable to find the end zone and was forced to settle on three field goals.

Not all of the blame could be put on the offenses for the lack of production as the game was played in a torrential downpour. Quarterbacks David Woodley (Steelers) and Bernie Kosar (Browns) only managed a combined total of 187 yards through the air while neither threw for a score.

Gary Anderson won the game on the last minute on what was probably considered to be the biggest kick of his entire NFL career.

No. 7 October 22, 1961 Browns Win 30-28

An unfortunate fumble was all it took for the Browns to take home the victory against the Steelers in Week 6 of the 1961 season.

With the Browns in the lead 27-21, Steelers running back John Johnson collided with an offensive lineman and lost control of the ball. Cleveland recovered the fumble and would then take it down close enough for Lou Groza to seal the deal.

Steelers fans did not leave this game totally disappointed though as wide receiver Ruddy Dial set a current-standing franchise record with 235 receiving yards.

No. 6: November 14, 1999, Browns Win 16-15

In what was considered by most to be one of the biggest upsets of the 1999 season, the newly rebuilt Cleveland Browns came into Pittsburgh in Week 9 with a 1-8 overall record and nearly a zero percent chance of beating the 5-3 Steelers.

Cleveland rode the fourth-quarter heroics of first-round pick Tim Couch as Couch tossed two touchdown passes and Phil Dawson added a field goal in order to put the Steelers away.

The Browns had opened the 1999 season nine weeks earlier in a 43-0 loss to Pittsburgh. Cleveland would eventually have the last laugh as the Steelers would go on to lose the next six games in a row and finish 1999 with a 6-10 record.

No. 5: November 22, 1959, Steelers Win 21-20

The Steelers pulled an astounding comeback and watched as a legend missed an uncharacteristic field goal as Pittsburgh ran away with a close one late in the 1959 season.

The Browns came into the game on a five-game winning streak but were unprepared for a Steeler rushing attack that wore them down late in the fourth quarter. Pittsburgh took the lead late on a 72-yard rush by Bobby Layne and watched as Cleveland had their final possession.

The Browns marched right back down the field only to be heartbroken as Lou Groza missed the game-winning field goal as time expired.

No. 4: December 10, 2009, Browns Win 13-6

When I was 13 years old, if somebody would have told me that the Browns will not beat the Steelers again until my sophomore year of college, I probably would have laughed at them and pushed them on the ground.

Unfortunately for me and for the rest of the Browns nation, that’s exactly what happened.

In a game that would have been more suited for polar bears, Cleveland finally pulled the monkey of their backs with a huge win against the Steelers in 2009.

Cleveland entered the game in the midst of another terrible season while Pittsburgh was in the hunt for yet another postseason.

Tonight the cards held something quite different than in recent years past as the Browns rumbled through the icy Lake Erie air on their way to their first victory in 11 contests.

Brady Quinn solidified himself in Cleveland legacy (if only for a short while) as he made his first and got his only significant win in a Browns uniform.

The biggest statistic of the game was the fact that Cleveland managed to sack Steeler quarterback Ben Roethlisberger a total of eight times and pushed him to his first career loss against the Browns.

No. 3: November 25, 1979, Steelers Win 33-30

In what was arguably the best game between the Browns and Steelers before the Browns expansion, Pittsburgh edged out an amazing victory late in 1979.

Gene Collier of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette writes a great piece on the Steeler victory:

“Franco Harris carried 32 times for 151 yards and caught a career high nine passes for 81 yards to drag Pittsburgh back from deficits of 20-6 and 30-20, but it was the defensive work of L.C. Greenwood that had most of the Steelers' admiration after an exhausting four hours of football.”

“Greenwood was in on five of the seven sacks of Cleveland quarterback Brian Sipe, three coming in the fourth quarter. 'I'm so exhausted I can barely move; I can barely stand up,' said Greenwood. 'It was one of the most physical games I've played in the 11 years I've played football. We played five quarters. Five complete quarters. I guess for the fans, it was a very dramatic game. For us it was a hard fought game. We had to fight. Cleveland played great football.'"

Not much I can say to add to Collier’s call of the game. Only wish I would have been alive to see it.

No. 2: October 5, 2003, Browns Win 33-13

When the 2003 season came around, the Browns were finally entering a time period in which rebuilding should have no longer been a factor.

Cleveland entered the game with Pittsburgh with an overall record of 1-3 and was looking to avenge a playoff loss from the season before.

Tim Couch helped the Browns jump off to an early lead and Phil Dawson added a field goal to pull ahead 10-0 early in the first quarter.

William Green got the load of the offensive work for the Browns as his 115 yards on the ground as well as Daylon McCutcheon’s 75-yard interception return nailed down a victory for Cleveland that would be remembered as the Browns would not be victorious against Pittsburgh again until 2009.

No. 1: January 5, 2003, Steelers Win 33-30

The NFL's Comeback Player of the Year in 2003 led one of Pittsburgh's greatest comebacks ever by throwing three touchdown passes in the final 19 minutes as the Steelers rallied from a 17-point deficit to stun the Browns 36-33

Cleveland watched helplessly as Pittsburgh scored at will and brought back terrible memories of “the drive” and “the fumble” as some of the greatest collapses in Cleveland Browns history.

Even though Cleveland would end up losing a heartbreaker, Kelly Holcomb would steal the show and collect many headlines as the Browns quarterback threw for 429 yards and three touchdowns in the loss.

This game still ranks high in the minds of both Browns and Steelers fans as the Steelers would go on to claim a very large rivalry lead over the Browns in years to come. This game also marked a downward spiral that Cleveland has not yet come out of as this loss to this Steelers is the last time Cleveland has been in the postseason since 1999.


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