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Browns vs. Steelers: Brian Hoyer is 'on the right side of this rivalry now'

Whether Brian Hoyer will be just another starting quarterback in Cleveland, he remembers his time in Pittsburgh, and even though he's thankful for it, he feels he's where he should be in Cleveland.

Jason Miller

(Video courtesy of the Cleveland Plain-Dealer and

The 2012 season was bleak down the stretch. Amid a four-game winning streak, Chiefs outside linebackers Tamba Hali and Justin Houston crunched Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger simultaneously, forcing the veteran from the game and putting him out for the next three contests.

During all of that, the Steelers signed free-agent quarterback Brian Hoyer to back up Byron Leftwich and Charlie Batch. Good thing they did too, since Leftwich would end up getting hurt early in a loss to Baltimore and the Steelers had to turn to Batch against a tough defensive, but otherwise putrid, Browns team.

A strong defensive performance by the Steelers would go for naught, as the offense turned the ball over eight times (including once on the final play) in a 20-14 loss, just the second to the Browns in the last 11 seasons. Hoyer was dressed on the sideline, marking a rare moment in Roethlisberger's career in which the back-up quarterback for a game didn't have any starting experience.

Hoyer will face his former team Sunday when Cleveland travels to Heinz Field, a place where they've only won once since it opened in 2001. A Cleveland product, Hoyer told Cleveland Plain Dealer reporter Mary Kay Cabot he's thankful the Steelers gave him a job when no one else would, but feels he's "on the right side of the rivalry now."

Cabot points out Hoyer was given a second-round, restricted free-agent tender that off-season by the Arizona Cardinals, thus thwarting the Steelers' effort to bring Hoyer back. Instead, the team signed Bruce Gradkowski, making them the only quarterbacks in the last 10 years to play for both the Steelers and Browns.

Hoyer will get the start Sunday, giving him a chance to back up his "I'm on the right side of this rivalry now" statement made to Cabot. Certainly not a new narrative coming from a newly-minted Browns quarterback. There's a touch of flavor to it, considering Hoyer didn't appear to beat out rookie back-up Johnny Manziel for the team's starting job as much as he seemed like the least-bad option through three preseason games. But Hoyer showed a bit of ability last season before tearing an ACL and ending his season.

How much he's changed since he was backing up Charlie Batch remains to be seen, just like how much differently a Browns quarterback will fare facing the Steelers' defense.