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The View From Pluto: Browns Face Tough, Quick Turnaround Against Rival Steelers

Browns receiver Rashard Higgins makes a catch during a preason game
Erik Drost
Browns receiver Rashard Higgins makes a catch during a preason game

The Cleveland Browns will be looking to build momentum as they return to the field Thursday against rival Pittsburgh. The Browns (3-6) snapped a four-game losing streak with a win on Sunday over Buffalo. WKSU sports commentator Terry Pluto says the Steelers have had a surprising season with a 5-4 record despite losing their star quarterback.

Browns vs. Steelers

The Browns showed some promise last Sunday amid what's been a disastrous season. They had just four penalties and zero turnovers in a 19-16 win over Buffalo. 

The Steelers, meanwhile, have put together a string of wins without star quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who went down with a right elbow injury in Week 2 -- ending his season. Backup Mason Rudolph, whose Oklahoma State teams went 1-3 against Oklahoma, will face a familiar foe in the former Sooners QB Baker Mayfield. 

"Pittsburgh plays like Buffalo does, only probably a little better," Pluto said. "[They have] strong defense; they don't score a lot. They tend to play the ugly, physical style of game. We'll see how the Browns hold up on that because frankly I don't know what the Browns style is."

Kitchens finding answers?

As for embattled first-year head coach Freddie Kitchens, Pluto believes he's still struggling to figure it all out. 

"His idea was that the team would have this offensive identity with Baker Mayfield throwing passes to Odell Beckham, Jr., Jarvis Landry and running the ball with Nick Chubb and piling up the points. But they have failed to score more than 20 points in like five games," Pluto said. 

"Pittsburgh meanwhile has decided they are a defensive team, making interceptions and causing teams to fumble and get you frustrated. They don't have to score a ton of points to beat you. And that's what they've done the last four games and that's what they're going to try to do Thursday night in Cleveland.

Not a fan of Thursday night games

As for Thursday night NFL games, Pluto says he's not a fan. 

"The players will tell you, nobody in their right mind thinks it's a great idea to play an NFL game on Sunday and turn around and play one Thursday night. Usually Monday and Tuesday your body is fully reacting to all of the hits it took. Also you are emotionally drained because you have to put yourself in a certain mindset to go out there and handle the hitting. So sometimes you really need about 48 hours to clear your mind out from that game and then begin studying for the next game."

"The NFL owns the product," Pluto added. "They can say, 'We've got Sunday and we'll play Monday.'"

But Pluto said the NFL has yet to take a stand on the issue. "The NFL should be embarrassed by this."

If the Browns beat the Steelers, they can keep a sliver of hope alive for a playoff berth. 

Copyright 2021 WKSU. To see more, visit WKSU.

Amanda Rabinowitz
Amanda Rabinowitz has been a reporter, host and producer at WKSU since 2007. Her days begin before the sun comes up as the local anchor for NPR’s Morning Edition, which airs on WKSU each weekday from 5 a.m. to 9 a.m. In addition to providing local news and weather, she interviews the Plain Dealer’s Terry Pluto for a weekly commentary about Northeast Ohio’s sports scene.