Rivalry still special for Browns

BEREA, Ohio ? Asked about his success against the
Steelers, which includes returning
three kickoffs for touchdowns since 2006, Cleveland Browns wide
receiver Josh Cribbs credited the emotion he carried into those
matchups.

“We really get up for this game,” Cribbs said about Sunday’s 1
p.m. contest against the
Steelers at Heinz Field.

“I can’t be out in the street or in a public place without
hearing it from fans that they really want a win. You hear it all
season and at camp. They’re not even talking about our first game
sometimes. They’re just talking about the Pittsburgh-Cleveland
Browns matchup. Everyone realizes how important this game is for
us.”

Cribbs had a 98-yard kickoff return in the
Steelers’ 27-14 win over Cleveland
last season. In a late-season rematch, Cribbs rushed eight times
for 87 yards, mostly out of the Wildcat formation, in the Browns’
13-6 upset victory.

Cribbs took offense when reporters asked him this week if the
Browns have confidence in rookie quarterback Colt McCoy, who will
make his first NFL start against the
Steelers. McCoy has been thrust into
the starting role with injuries to Jake Delhomme and Seneca
Wallace.

“He’s well-equipped to go in against the so-called big, bad
Steelers and help us win,” said
Cribbs, who couldn’t resist taking a dig at the Browns’ biggest
rival and toughest opponent.

As much as defeating the Baltimore Ravens means to the
Steelers, that’s how much knocking
off the
Steelers means to the Browns, who
snapped a 12-game losing streak against the
Steelers last season.

“It was something that we looked forward to doing in getting
over the hump. It was something that we needed,” Cribbs said. “It
was a momentum-changer for us. We look forward to doing the same
this year.”

Second-year linebacker Marcus Benard, who didn’t play in the
first meeting against the
Steelers, recorded two sacks in the
second game.

“That was the first thing anyone told me when I came here, to
beat Pittsburgh,” Benard said. “I didn’t quite understand, but that
week, I understood.”

For kicker Phil Dawson, the Browns’ longest tenured player who
joined the team in 1999, it was only his third win in 20 meetings
against the
Steelers.

Despite being on the losing end so many times, Dawson said
Steelers-Browns week has always
held special meaning for him.

“That’s one of those things that makes this week fun,” Dawson
said. “We all have great jobs in this locker room. It’s a blessing
to be in this league. But a lot of us long for that feeling you had
emotionally in college. When you have that rivalry, the tradition
of two programs going against one another.

“As a guy that’s been in this league a long time, it’s fun to
have that twice a year because some of those other games, you kind
of feel like you’re going to work. This feels like playing that
game in the front yard you grew up playing, when you told your
friend, ‘run around the mailbox and I’ll throw it to you.'”

Colt McCoy, who starred at Texas, said the atmosphere entering
tomorrow’s game reminds him of Texas-Oklahoma week.

“Very similar if you want to compare it to college,” McCoy
said.

“It’s a special game for the people in Cleveland,” Dawson said.
“When I got here in ’99, the one opponent every one seemed to talk
about was the Pittsburgh
Steelers. Having been here for 12
years, that definitely has continued to be the case. You can’t go
anywhere ? whether it’s a gas station, supermarket, whatever ?
without someone telling you, ‘beat the
Steelers, just find a way to beat
the
Steelers.'”