Mike Tomlin took over as head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2007. Since then, Pittsburgh has absolutely dominated the Cleveland Browns to the tune of a 6-25-1 regular season record, including a perfect 16-0 home mark. While that record is obviously fantastic, it might somehow be underselling how much the Steelers’ defense has shut down Browns quarterbacks.
Per ESPN, “Since 2007, Mike Tomlin’s first season as the Steelers’ coach, Browns QBs rank last in completion percentage, last in yards per dropback, and fourth lowest in QBR against Pittsburgh of any division matchup (96 total).”
Digging deeper, out of the 32 games that the Browns have played against the Steelers since 2007, Browns’ quarterbacks have thrown for multiple touchdowns just eight times, and they have thrown for multiple interceptions nine times. In fact, they actually have a negative touchdown to interception ratio, with 31 touchdowns and 33 interceptions.
We can also see that in the six games that the Browns actually won, their quarterbacks only threw a single combined interception. When the Browns have been able to get the better of the Steelers, it’s largely thanks to their ball control and ability to limit turnovers.
In Week Two, the Steelers face Deshaun Watson, whom they have seen twice before, once with the Browns last season and once in 2020 when he was on the Texans. Last year Watson played alright, with over 200 yards and two touchdowns, but Damontae Kazee and Levi Wallace were each able to pick him off. In 2020, he put up a similar stat line in a 28-21 loss to Pittsburgh, but he only threw one interception in that one, to former Steeler Mike Hilton.
While the Steelers have had a ton of historical success against the Browns, this is a much-improved roster, especially at the quarterback position. When looking through some of the starters that the Browns were running out against the Steelers over the past 15 or so years, you see names such as Austin Davis, Charlie Frye, Bruce Gradkowski, Cody Kessler, and Seneca Wallace to name a few. Even with the struggles that Watson has had since joining the Browns, he is a far better option even on his worst day than any of the guys I just listed.
While a lot has changed in the NFL landscape over the past 15-plus years, one thing has stayed the same. The Steelers own the Cleveland Browns at Heinz Field. If they want it to stay that way, it starts with the same old dominance of Cleveland quarterbacks to which we’ve grown accustomed.