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Steelers Squash The Browns 1999 NFL Return

After a three year hiatus, a pro football team was back in the city of Cleveland. The Browns opened their season by hosting the Steelers in Week 1 at the new Cleveland Browns Stadium. The game had the primetime Sunday Night slot on ESPN. Cleveland was back in action but their party would soon be short-lived.

At the conclusion of the 1995 season, the Browns relocated to Baltimore and became the newly formed Ravens. Cleveland fans felt betrayed by owner Art Modell and had to watch three years of NFL football without a home team. In years to follow, businessman Al Lerner purchased the Browns with the goal of a new revival..

During the 1999 (expansion and rookie) drafts, the Browns made some mistakes. They selected future-bust Tim Couch at No. 1 overall after passing on an opportunity to draft Kurt Warner in the expansion draft. The Browns were a new team so aspirations of the playoffs would’ve been foolish, but the Steelers weren’t all that great either. The Steelers were coming off of a disappointing 7-9 season and were struggling to find their identity.

The 1999 Opening Game

The game started with the Steelers receiving the ball first. The Steelers drove near the Cleveland red zone but a gamble on 4th & 1 surrendered the ball back to Cleveland. On Cleveland’s first drive with the ball, Ty Detmer threw an interception to Chris Olhdam. The Steelers got the ball back and Kordell Stewart rushed the ball in for the opening touchdown. Although it was a slow first half, the Steelers systematically broke down the Cleveland attack and held a 20-0 lead at halftime.

The Steelers didn’t hold back on the newly-formed Browns by extending to a 26-0 lead entering the 4th quarter. The Steelers gave Mike Tomczak a few possessions at quarterback to relieve Kordell Stewart. Tomczak threw two touchdowns as the Steelers finished on top with a 43-0 victory.

Throughout the game the Steelers scored on eight-straight possessions, and of course never allowed Cleveland to score. In fact, only their first two drives did the Browns net more than 10 yards. The Steelers owned the time of possession. The Steelers held control of the ball for nearly 48 minutes while the Cleveland had the ball for nearly 12 minutes. The Steelers would not be denied on 3rd down by going 15/21. The Browns on the other hand were 0/7.

Rest of the 1999 Season

The Steelers went on to a 5-3 start of the 1999 season and had playoff aspirations. But a 16-15 home loss against Cleveland jeopardized that goal. The Steelers lost five more games after the Browns loss and ended the season with a 6-10 record. Despite that, the Week 1 win in Cleveland remained a major moral victory for the 1999 squad. The Steelers were still on top of the Dog Pound during the next decade. In the 2000s, the Steelers had a 18-3 record against the Browns. In the 2010s, the Steelers had a 16-3-1 record against Cleveland.

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