How crazy is life in 2020?
Well, the Steelers got a statement win Sunday.
Against the Browns.
That’s right. Beating the Browns, especially in Pittsburgh, has been the free square on the Steelers’ Bingo card for most of the 21st century.
In 2020, however, the Browns are the best team the Steelers have beaten so far this season.
The Steelers improved to 5-0 for the first time since 1978 with their 38-7 hammering of the Browns at Heinz Field.
The Steelers’ first four wins of the season came against teams with a combined record of 3-15-1 through Week 5. The Browns (4-2) are the first team the Steelers have defeated this season that entered Sunday with more than one win. They got off to their best start through five games since 1994.
The Browns aren’t ready to hang with the Steelers yet, however. This was a strength-vs.-strength matchup. The Steelers’ rushing defense was second in the league with 3.3 yards allowed per carry. The Browns were second with 5.5 yards gained per attempt.
That number is going to come down. The Steelers allowed the Browns to gain just 75 yards on 22 carries (3.4 yards per carry).
It’s still too early, though, to anoint the Steelers as the best team in the AFC. Not only is that accolade meaningless in October, but after passing a tough test Sunday, the Steelers have their mid-term exams when they visit the Titans (5-0) and Ravens (5-1) over the next two weeks.
Because of the schedule changes forced by COVID-19 outbreaks, the Steelers are finishing up a four-game homestand and now go on the road for three weeks. So they’re going to need their first signature win away from Heinz Field.
After visiting Baltimore in Week 8, the Steelers visit Dallas in Week 9. Former Cowboy Tony Romo, who did color commentary Sunday, is predicting an 8-0 start.
Thanks, Tony. Even if the Steelers do go 8-0, they’ll have to avoid getting caught up in their own hubris like they did in 2017 when they went 13-3 and then got bounced in the AFC divisional playoffs by Blake Bortles and the Jaguars.
In 2017, Mike Tomlin and the Steelers were looking ahead to their late-season showdown against the Patriots, and then to an AFC championship game rematch in New England that never happened. They won the AFC North by four games over the Ravens that year. Perhaps this year the heat they feel in their own division will keep them focused on one week at a time.
Follow Mike @Steel_Tweets.