Setting the Stage: The Vistor: Cleveland Browns 11-5 Wild Card team led by Drew Brees and Mychal Kendricks. Going into the Wild Card Round, no team had thrown more passes or scored as many TDs through the air with only League MVP Ryan Tannehill with a better completion percentage. This team won and lost all season long on the aging arm of a 38 year old quarterback everyone said should have retired. Their defense was a top 10 unit, 6th best in league in points allowed (22.3), 7th in total yards (335.8), 13th against the pass (250.9) and 7th against the run (84.9). A defense that typically swore by stopping the run, committed to pressuring the QB and forcing turnovers from chaos. The Home Team: Pittsburgh Steelers 11-5 Division winner led by Dan Landrum and Steele Bishop. Going into the wild card round, this team had overcome a surprise benching of future Hall of Famer Ben Roethlesberger and managed to defeat the Titans in a shocking victory in Week 17 to seal the division. Through the season, their offense was led to a 4th ranked passing attack (299.8) and a top 10 offense in yards (401.5) and 11th in points (29.2). Their defense had played middle of the pack most of the season, outside of the outstanding play of Steele Bishop and Ryan Shazier. This was a team known for shoot outs, not blow outs. However, their secondary totaled a combined 30 interceptions on the league (Bishop getting 12 by himself). While this was a team that gave up big plays in the pass, it was also a team that made big plays as well. The History: Week 4: The Rookie Bowl Ryan Bars, meet the Cleveland Browns. Pittsburgh came out and simply dominated the Browns with 1st round draft pick Ryan Bars, who continuously converted on key third down possessions. Leading his team with 7 passes, he was a nightmare over the middle that Cleveland had no answer for in the first half. By the 4th quarter, Pittsburgh had managed to take a 17 - 0 lead. Ibraheim Ayers, meet the Pittsburgh Steelers. In shocking fashion, less than 10 minutes to go, Ayers brought life back to a team that has lost all confidence. The defense took over, finishing the day with 2 sacks and 3 interceptions lead by 1st round pick Ayers. Cleveland came in scoring 21 points in the 4th to take the lead, and on a final hail mary to Bars.... it was Ayers who caught the ball at the at the goal line to seal the Steelers fate. Both teams had drafted playmakers the other team couldn't stop, and it was only fitting it came down to the two of them to win this game. Cleveland Wins: 21 to 17 Week 7: Christmas SIM Pittsburgh wins 38 to 34. Even in SIM, this game came down to the wire. WILD CARD With both teams season on the line. the Browns came back to Pittsburgh for one last show down. If you love defense, you'll hate yourself for not watching the steam. Offensively, there isn't much to say about either team except who saw this game coming? Pittsburgh had a 13-0 (including a pick 6) lead going into half time. The Browns had already missed 2 field goals. Pittsburgh had not scored an offensive TD. Because of key interceptions, the Browns (including a pick 6) came back and took the lead. 14-13. The Browns stopped the Steelers twice when it counted, forcing 2 back to back field goals. 14-19. Browns run a kick return back 70 yards. Less than 2 minutes to go. Push in a TD on offense. 20-19. Browns go for 3... INTERCEPTION... Steelers take it back to the house. 20-21. Browns force a punt. 25 seconds to go. Quick pass to the sideline. Pick up some yards... Hail mary... Interception. Steelers win. Like week 4, this game was won and lost on defense, with a team sealing the others team fate on a final, last ditch hail mary pass... but with a different winner. Fun Facts: The Steelers 4th ranked passing team generated only 179 yards and threw 3 interceptions. The Steelers did not score once on offense, generating a pick 6, 4 field goals and a 2pt conversion pick 2. The Browns average rush was only 1.6 yards, despite averaging 122.9 yards a game on the ground. They got 20. The Browns gave up 136 yards on the ground after holding them to just 57 in their first match up. Pittsburgh wins: 21-20. Grats Freakskull Verdict: This rivalry just got a lot more bitter.