CLEVELAND, Ohio (92.3 The Fan) – Considering the mountain of COVID-19 related challenges the Browns face, beating the Steelers Sunday night would be a herculean feat and the greatest win for the franchise since the 1990s.
They'll be without head coach Kevin Stefanski plus a couple assistant coaches and potentially nearly half a dozen starters too, not to mention they can’t even practice.
The reality is that the Browns have their own David versus Goliath fight awaiting Sunday night at Heinz Field, where they haven’t won in 17 years, in their long-awaited return to the playoffs.
Be it media prognostications or understanding the Browns haven’t played a playoff game in 18 years – and in the last one they blew a 17-point third quarter lead and lost to the Steelers 36-33 in Jan. 2003, all the motivation to pull off an upset was provided Thursday by Steelers logo-dancing TikTok star JuJu Smith Schuster.
Pittsburgh’s star receiver was asked if the 11-5 Browns had a different “vibe” or “successful vibe” this year compared to previous years during a Zoom video conference with Pittsburgh reporters to which he said the following:
“Nah, I think they’re still the same Browns teams I play every year,” Smith-Schuster said. “I think they’re nameless gray faces. Yes, they have a couple good players on their team, but at the end of the day, I don’t know. It’s the Browns, it’s the Browns.
“It’s one of those things that, AFC North football. They’re a good team but I’m just happy we’re playing them again this Sunday.”
Smith-Schuster caught 6 passes for 65 yards and a touchdown in last Sunday's 24-22 loss to the Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium after catching just 2 passes for 6 yards in their Week 6 38-7 rout.
That victory was just the eighth since 1999 in the rivalry for Cleveland, but it clinched a playoff berth.
With all the Browns are having to deal with this week, if Kevin Stefanski or Mike Priefer or Baker Mayfield were looking for a little extra help to get them fired up, Smith-Schuster obliged.