This time, Browns admit defeat AFC PLAYOFF NOTEBOOK

January 08, 1995|By Mike Preston | Mike Preston,Sun Staff Writer

PITTSBURGH -- After the Pittsburgh Steelers beat the Cleveland Browns, 29-9, yesterday to complete a three-game sweep this season, the Browns were humble.

It was much different from their trash-talking rhetoric after thfirst two losses, 17-10 and 17-7.

"When you get kicked around like we got kicked around, there is nothing much you can say," said Cleveland linebacker Carl Banks. "They beat us three times straight. We have learned that the road to the next Super Bowl goes through Pittsburgh."

Said Cleveland defensive lineman Michael Dean Perry: "We were off-balance all day because of their running game. They came up with the big plays and we didn't. We picked the absolute worst game to have a slump."

Pittsburgh linebacker Greg Lloyd had his own perspective on Cleveland's losing streak.

"I don't care what they think," he said. "We're 3-0 against them and they're going home. Who's going to listen to them now?"

Missed opportunity

On Cleveland's first possession, rookie wide receiver Derrick Alexander dropped passes on second and third down to stop the drive at the Browns' 43.

"It was too early in the game to set the tone on one or two plays," said Alexander. "The coaches kept telling me to make the plays and to keep my head up. The next series I was out."

Alexander didn't play the second half.

Cleveland quarterback Vinny Testaverde thought differently.

"I think the dropped passes set the tone for how their defense was going to play," said Testaverde. "We had four or five dropped passes in the first quarter, and you can't make those types of mistakes against Pittsburgh."

Steelers defensive end Ray Seals said the tone was set minutes before the game when he spiked a Terrible Towel in front of the Cleveland bench, and Browns running back Earnest Byner stomped on it.

"That's when they entered the twilight zone," said Seals.

Third time not charming

The Browns apparently thought the odds were in their favor yesterday after losing two straight to the Steelers.

"If something's not broken, you're not going to fix it," said Cleveland wide receiver Michael Jackson. "They're going to come back and do the same things they've done in the past, which they did with a wrinkle added here and a wrinkle added there. We should have been able to pick it up, but we didn't."

Hoping for San Diego

At least one Steeler said he would like to play San Diego for the AFC title. The Chargers beat the Steelers, 37-34, in the final regular-season game.

"I think a lot of the guys would like to see San Diego because they think that they handled us pretty well a few weeks ago," said Steelers tight end Eric Green. "We would like to show them that they didn't."

Miscellaneous

Yesterday's meeting was the 92nd between Cleveland and Pittsburgh, with the Browns holding a 52-38 advantage. The Steelers have a 29-21 edge since both teams joined the AFC Central in 1970. . . . Cleveland has not won a playoff game on the road in 25 years, and the Steelers had gone 15 years without a home playoff win. . . . A big decision for the Browns came late in the first half when Cleveland, trailing 17-0, kicked a field goal instead of going for a fourth-and-one on the Pittsburgh 5. Cleveland got a 22-yard field goal but trailed 24-3 at the half.

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