The Pittsburgh Steelers are a very inconsistent team, and nothing showed this more than the team rebounding from losses to the Broncos, Chargers and Raiders with a huge home win vs. the New England Patriots in Week 15. However, the inconsistencies continued with an absolutely heart-breaking defeat to the Saints in Week 16. Now, the Steelers don’t control their own destiny, but are relying on the help of the Browns — the Cleveland Browns.
Today in the Black-and-gold links article we take a look at how what started as a funny joke among the media came to fruition when Ben Roethlisberger came through for his son and got him a James Conner jersey for the holiday.
Fans laughed at Roethlisberger when he told the story of his son not wanting a Roethlisberger jersey, but a Conner jersey, and No. 7 obliged and pulled through when it mattered!
Let’s get to the news:
By: Frank Carnevale
Steelers’ Ben Roethlisberger — and Santa — delivered for Ben Jr. on Christmas.
Roethlisberger shared on Twitter and his website some Christmas photos, including one of his son Benjamin Jr. smiling while wearing a Steelers James Conner jersey. The note under the photo on the website reads, “look what Santa brought Benjamin Jr….exactly what he asked for!”
Turns out 6-year-old Ben Jr. is a big Conner fan. On his weekly radio show, Big Ben talked about how he would throw the ball around with his son and the youngster would say he’s Conner.
“‘When I come home and play catch with my son and every time he catches it he’s you!’” Big Ben recounted on his weekly radio in October about a text exchange with Conner.
By: Kevin Gorman, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
A Christmas Day call to the Cleveland Gormans brought about a conversation that quickly turned to football and how the Pittsburgh Steelers have suddenly become the Browns’ biggest fans.
“That’s the rumor,” Cousin Mike said with a laugh. “I hope we don’t let you down.”
Oh, the cruel irony that the Steelers’ playoff hopes has come to this: The Steelers not only need to beat the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday at Heinz Field to win the AFC North but also need the Browns to beat the Ravens in Baltimore.
That conversation is the conundrum in Cleveland right now. Browns diehards want them to win. But true Browns fans don’t want to see the Steelers make the playoffs, either. You have to hope they harbor more hatred for Baltimore, which took their team, than the Steelers, who are 20-3-1 against the Browns under Mike Tomlin.
To properly understand this mentality, you must remember Cleveland can take a joke. The city is so accustomed to the Browns losing — they have had only two winning seasons since returning as an expansion team in 1999 — that fans celebrated the 0-16 season last year with a parade around FirstEnergy Stadium.
The Steelers have only added to the Browns’ misery.
Cleveland is 7-7-1 and hasn’t had a winning season since going 10-6 in 2007, when the Steelers had the same record but won the AFC North by virtue of sweeping the Browns. That included a 31-28 victory over the Browns, a comeback clinched on a 2-yard pass from Ben Roethlisberger to Heath Miller. Want irony? The Steelers are coming off a 31-28 loss at New Orleans, a comeback clinched on a 2-yard touchdown pass from Drew Brees to Michael Thomas.
The Browns haven’t been to the postseason since 2002, when they qualified as a wild card only to blow Kelly Holcomb’s 429 passing yards and a 13-point, fourth-quarter lead to the Steelers in a 36-33 loss.
That’s not to mention the Steelers beating the Browns in the season finale the past two seasons, their “perfect” season punctuated by Corey Coleman dropping a fourth-and-2 pass late in the fourth quarter last year. Then again, the winless season earned the Browns the No. 1 overall pick, which they used to draft Baker Mayfield in hopes of ending their revolving door of quarterbacks since taking Tim Couch in ’99.
Forgive Cleveland if it isn’t feeling charitable toward Pittsburgh this holiday season.
“Every year, there’s a different narrative,” Steelers defensive captain Cameron Heyward said. “This year, I’ll be cheering for a team in Ohio again and hoping for Cleveland to do their job. We’ll be playing another team in Ohio, so it’s just crazy how year to year, different narratives get written.”
By: Jeremy Fowler, ESPN
After battling the New Orleans Saints’ offense with conviction, Cam Heyward couldn’t help but wish.
”Hopefully we’ll see them in the Super Bowl,” the Pittsburgh Steelers defensive end said after Sunday’s 31-28 loss.
That statement isn’t far-fetched. The Steelers reminded why they entered the season with legitimate Super Bowl aspirations. They burned a good defense for 429 yards behind the arm of Ben Roethlisberger. They sacked Drew Brees twice, stopped the Saints three times in the second half and held the Alvin Kamara-Mark Ingram rushing tandem to 58 yards on the ground.
But it was all just a tease.
The Steelers (8-6-1) are poised to miss the playoffs for the first time since 2013 because such inspired play was overshadowed far too often by curious losses and late-game mistakes and bad kicks.
The Steelers are equipped to go on a playoff run right now. They won’t get that chance unless the AFC North-leading Baltimore Ravens drop the season finale at home to the Cleveland Browns. The Steelers host the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday to close out a season slipping away. They need to win plus a Browns victory; a Steelers win and a Titans-Colts tie could also get them to the postseason.
And that’s on them more than bad officiating or bad luck. And everyone in the locker room seemed to know it.
”Anybody can beat anybody or lose to anybody -- we figured that out this year pretty easily,” guard David DeCastro said.
”Can’t make no excuses,” receiver Antonio Brown said. “Have to find a way to put ourselves in a better position.”
They can point to several examples. The Week 1 tie in Cleveland. The four-turnover game in Denver in Week 12. The 16-point blown lead to the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 13, followed by a loss at Oakland that featured Roethlisberger missing most of the second half with a rib injury and Chris Boswell missing two field goals.