Harris: This series is improbably lopsided
Buzz up!
Monday, October 19, 2009
Last updated: 9:32 am

Slideshow: Steelers-Browns
Steelers roll at Heinz Field

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John Harris is a sports columnist for the Tribune-Review. He can be reached via e-mail or at 412-481-5432.

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The Steelers now officially own the Cleveland Browns. The streak is 12 consecutive wins and counting following Sunday afternoon's 27-14 throttling at Heinz Field.

Think USC owns Notre Dame in college football? That the National League owns the Pirates?

OK, so your Pirates have taken losing to a new low.

Still, what the Steelers are doing to the Browns, you wouldn't wish on your worst enemy.

Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was the 11th pick in the 2004 draft. That year the Browns traded up with Detroit to select tight end Kellen Winslow with the No. 6 pick.

One of the reasons the Browns didn't draft Roethlisberger is because they had a quarterback rotation that year featuring Jeff Garcia, Luke McCown and Kelly Holcomb.

You can stop laughing now.

Don't think that Roethlisberger, an Ohio native, doesn't continue to have the last laugh whenever the teams play. He passed for 417 yards and two touchdowns yesterday.

This is what Roethlisberger, who would have a street named after him if he played in Cleveland, said after the Steelers' offense rang up 543 total yards:

"We played OK. I still think we left some things out there."

Roethlisberger has never lost to the Browns.

How is that possible?

How can the Browns go through through three coaches and who knows how many quarterbacks since Roethlisberger was drafted without a win against his Steelers?

In the parity-driven NFL, that's almost unheard of.

"Twelve in a row ... I never really think about the streak. I just treat it like every other game. But that's something," Steelers inside linebacker James Farrior said.

Left tackle Max Starks said there's a fine line between the rivals, and that the Browns may be the best 1-5 team in the NFL.

"We know they want to beat us so bad, and we want to beat them," Starks said. "We're not that far ahead of them all the time. But we keep fighting. We know at any given moment, if we let up, they can beat us. We're fortunate that we always have good games against them."


Make that dominant.

Thanks to the Browns, the Steelers have been able to count on two wins during each regular season since 2004.

During two of those seasons 2005 and 2007 the Steelers may have struggled to make the playoffs if they didn't beat the Browns. In 2005, the Steelers advanced to win Super Bowl XL.

The Steelers' dominance over Cleveland actually dates to when the Browns rejoined the league as an expansion team in 1999. The Steelers are 18-3 in those 21 regular-season meetings.

During that span, the Steelers have won two Super Bowls, made six postseason appearances and won five division titles with seven winning seasons, plus an 8-8 record in Bill Cowher's final season in 2006.

The Browns, meanwhile, have two winning seasons and one playoff appearance during that span losing to the Steelers 36-33 in a wild-card playoff game in 2002.

The Steelers and Browns are as different as Mike Tomlin and Eric Mangini.

Tomlin looks at the Steelers' 13-point victory and said his 4-2 team fell short of perfection.

"I acknowledge that ball security is something we have to improve at," Tomlin said about his team's four turnovers against the Browns. "When you lose the turnover battle, the chances are you potentially expose yourself to losing football games, but we were able to win today."

Mangini looks at his team and ... who knows what he sees?

"What I told the players are two things they can't do, and we talked about it a lot, are turnovers and big plays. If we could take care of those things, things would be different," Mangini said.

The Steelers owe the Browns a debt of gratitude that can never be repaid.