A montage at one point in the second half showed Browns cornerback Joe Haden battling step-for-step with Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown.
For football purists, it was chilling. Two phenomenal athletes at the height of their respective positions doing battle in a way the game was meant to be played. At one point, Haden came deep into Pittsburgh's sideline and exchanged a word or two with Brown as he spoke with Steelers coach Mike Tomlin.
Tomlin's reaction wasn't as angry as a team might think. Brown didn't go after him, either. It almost seemed...respectful.
The level of competition was a topic of conversation leading into the Steelers' Week 12 game against Cleveland. "Little Brother" was building up to trade punches with a fully-staffed "Big Brother." Ben Roethlisberger would be on the field for this game, unlike the last time Cleveland hosted the Steelers. And both teams had playoff aspirations.
While it was obvious by the third quarter Little Brother was not quite there, and was in for a rough afternoon, Brown and Haden continued to battle. This is the same Haden who held Bengals WR A.J. Green to seven yards on two catches. His length, his athleticism, his overall make-up to play the cornerback position are rivaled by very few, if any, in the NFL.
And Brown matched him - at worst - punch-for-punch.
It was good to see they were aware of who the other one was during the game. Never over-the-top or penalty-worthy or anything like that. Brown got the best of him on a fly down the left sideline when Haden peek and stuck just a little too long toward the backfield. Brown managed to hang onto the ball (a bit underthrown), a big-time play that woke the Steelers' up from their road woes.
The Steelers' best offensive skill player vs. the Browns' most talented player. And the Steelers won.
It was all Steelers after that.
That catch made up 41 of Brown's 92 yards on the day - the 11th consecutive game in which Brown has at least five catches or more, a Steelers franchise record. He re-directed any opportunity to take praise for his performance, often repeating "team win" in an interview with the media after the game.
That all may be true, but it was an even bigger individual win for Brown.
More from Behind the Steel Curtain:
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