There are few rivalries in the NFL that check as many boxes as the Browns-Steelers rivalry. Sure, the all-time series may lean in Pittsburgh’s favor. But Between the geographic proximity between Cleveland and Pittsburgh, the similarities between the two cities, and decades of competitive games while playing for bragging rights and divisional supremacy, there are few rivalries that measure up. To show you that these teams can back up the billing of a major rivalry, here are some of the wildest moments the Browns and Steelers have ever given us.
Browns 21, Steelers 21 (2018)
It’s hard to say if this game was crazy or simply frustrating for fans on both sides. This was a sloppy game that neither team really deserved to win. In the end, that’s exactly what happened.
Ben Roethlisberger ruined his 335-yard passing game by also throwing three picks. To top that, both teams missed a field goal in the final two minutes of overtime, giving us the first tie in Browns-Steelers history.
Browns 28, Steelers 23 (1993)
Whenever a big play on special teams determines a game, you know the game has been a little crazy. But the Browns and Steelers went above and beyond in this game with two huge plays on special teams. Cleveland’s Eric Metcalf returned a punt for a touchdown in the second quarter to give the Browns a 14-0 lead.
However, the Steelers fought back to take a 23-21 lead in the fourth quarter. Alas, Metcalf struck again with another punt return for a touchdown late in the game to give the Browns the win.
Steelers 15, Browns 9 (1978)
This was the first game in this rivalry to go to overtime, and it did not disappoint. At the time, both teams were undefeated, so there was a lot on the line. During the game, Pittsburgh linebacker Jack Lambert was ejected for throwing punches.
But it got better, at least for the Steelers. The game-winning touchdown came on a reverse flea-flicker in which Terry Bradshaw passed to Bennie Cunningham. The play is famously called “fake 84 reverse” and still stings for Browns’ fans.
Steelers 36, Browns 33 (2002 Playoffs)
This game would have been crazy during the regular season, but the fact that it was a playoff game makes it an all-time classic in this rivalry. Cleveland’s backup quarterback Kelly Holcomb had a memorable game, throwing for over 400 yards and three touchdowns, helping give the Browns a 24-7 halftime lead.
However, Tommy Maddox rallied the Steelers with three touchdown passes of his own in the second half, bringing the Steelers all the way back for the 36-33 win.
Browns 21, Steelers 7 (2019)
This game will forever be remembered for the brawl that broke out in the closing seconds. Cleveland’s Myles Garrett ripped the helmet straight off Pittsburgh quarterback Mason Rudolph and things quickly escalated from there. Garrett swung the helmet at Rudolph, hitting him in the head.
Two Steelers then proceeded to punch and kick Garrett while he was on the ground. It was an ugly scene and one that shouldn’t be celebrated. However, it’s proof of just how intense and crazy things can get in the Browns-Steelers rivalry.