Now, don’t read that last sentence to believe the Browns somehow have an edge on the Steelers, that was evident at Heinz Field Sunday afternoon, but don’t think all that went down since Week 11 didn’t play a role.
The fiasco between Myles Garrett and Mason Rudolph sparked the allegations of racial slurs used, t-shirts to be printed and worn and, of course, a ton of fines and suspensions for both teams.
One of those players suspended was Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey. Pouncey was originally given a 3-game suspension, but had it reduced to two games after the appeal process ran its course.
The Cleveland game in Week 13 was the last game of his suspension, and his teammates wanted to make sure he knew they were playing for him. How did they do that? By giving No. 53 the game ball...
This per Dejan Kovacevic of DKPittsburghSports:
Maurkice Pouncey got the game ball. Not in person, of course. Cam Heyward's taking it to him. But it was his name called out in the locker room afterward. "We wanted to get this for Pounce," Johnny Holton told me. "This was for him." #DKPS #Steelers #HereWeGo #Browns #CLEvsPIT— Dejan Kovacevic (@Dejan_Kovacevic) December 1, 2019
This per Dianna Russini of ESPN:
I also saw @CamHeyward leaving the lockeroom with a football in his hand.— Dianna (@diannaESPN) December 1, 2019
“Hey Cam, you got game ball?”
“What’s up with the ball?”
“I’m bringing it to @MaurkicePouncey, he gets game ball” #Steelers
The Steelers didn’t need any extra motivation, but they wanted to let their teammate know not only were they thinking of him the past two weeks, but getting this win over the Browns was big for team morale.
On a quick side note, kudos to B.J. Finney for holding down the fort in Pouncey’s absence. Finney has proven to be an invaluable commodity at both guard and center whenever called upon. His solid play has sparked some life into the running game, and probably made most fans forget Pouncey was even absent from the team the past two games.
This is a great story, and regardless of how remarkable this team is after starting 0-3 and 1-4, they still have a lot of work to do. Next up? A trip to Arizona to play the Cardinals in Week 14. Pouncey will be back, game ball stowed away, ready for a playoff push.
Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black-and-gold as they continue to push through the 2019 regular season.