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The Steelers 1977 season begins here>>>

Glenn Sheeley Pittsburgh Press.

Long before the Steelers decided to adopt the Oakland Raiders as their annual voodoo doll, this was THE Series. Cleveland and Pittsburgh. Mentioning both cities drew laughs in a comedian’s act, but when the Browns and the Steelers played each other it was certainly no joke.

Especially when it involved going to Cleveland. Pittsburgh fans would ride trains or buses or jam themselves five to a back seat merely to watch the fights in the stands. Players from both teams knew better than to remove their helmets emerging from the locker rooms. Beer bottles were often more potentially terrifying than forearms.

The series lives again. About three hours after kickoff, when they dig everyone from the turf, either the Browns’ bubble will have expanded and the Steelers will have revived grim memories of last year or the Steelers will have deflated the Browns and blown up a bubble of their own.

With wins over Cincinnati and New England behind them, Cleveland is the old franchise with new hopes and a team with visions of a division title dancing inside its helmets.

Although the Cleveland drought has not been as lengthy as it was for Steelers followers, it doesn’t seem to matter. Browns fans would like nothing more than to increase the streak against the Steelers.

In the old days, people in Cleveland laughed at the Steelers funny uniforms. In recent years, as Super Bowl trophies replaced the Steelers annual residence in the NFL cellar, Browns fans sat back in their seats and hoped the humiliation wouldn’t be too bad.

Except in Cleveland’s Municipal Stadium, Chuck Noll’s Steelers are a dismal 2-6; the only two victories coming in the years they went onto win the Super Bowl.

“We better win,” Jack Ham said. “We didn’t play well against Oakland. Now we start playing games in our division. It’s time to start winning football game.”

Municipal Stadium

1977 game 3: The Pittsburgh Steelers (1-1) at the Cleveland Browns (2-0)

On a dreary, windy, rainy afternoon in Cleveland, this game was always going to be fought in the trenches and so it proved. It took a Lynn Swann 31-yard punt return to set the Steelers up for the first score placing the ball on Cleveland’s 25. Five plays later, Swann collected a touchdown pass of 6 yards to break the deadlock.

The Browns powered back with a 10-play drive of 64 yards finishing with Brian Sipe’s 22-yard touchdown pass to Dave Logan. That score was the first time the Browns had scored a first quarter touchdown against the Steelers in 32 regular season games.

The teams exchanged turnovers in the second period with the Cleveland taking the advantage after an interception return to Pittsburgh’s 5. Cleo Miller went over from the one to give the Browns the lead.

Pittsburgh tied it almost immediately when Bradshaw threw a 65-yard touchdown pass that bounced off a Cleveland cornerback’s chest into the arms of Frank Lewis to give a 14-14 score line at the end of the first half.

Early in the third period, the Steelers recovered a muffed punt catch that placed the ball on Cleveland’s 18. Swann caught his second touchdown pass, this one from 14 yards to put the Steelers in front again.

Another turnover in the final period from Gregg Pruitt gave Pittsburgh the opportunity to increase their lead. With a ground game that was finally sparkling, Rocky Bleier gained 17 yards in three plays before Swann hauled in a catch of 14 yards for the touchdown.

The Pittsburgh Steelers 28 at the Cleveland Browns 14
Municipal Stadium October 2nd 1977; 80,588

Passing: Bradshaw 10-17-3INT-2TD-143
Sipe 9-20-1INT-1TD-81

Rushing: Harris 22-72, Harrison 8-39, Smith 4-29, Bleier 15-67, Thornton 1-2

Receiving: Swann 7-71-2TD, Lewis 1-65, Bleier 2-7

“The game started out like a street fight,” observed Coach Noll. “Our coaches tried to calm everyone down as quick as possible. But the worst thing you can do to a team (to retaliate for rough play) is to beat them. That’s what we did.”

Cleveland’s defensive back Thom Darden agreed, “It’s just like a street fight when you play Pittsburgh. When you play them, you know it’s going to be rough. We’re not going to let them intimidate us. It’s just like having a bully on your block.”

“They pounded on us,” remarked Cleveland’s Coach Forrest Gregg. “That’s the first time anybody did that. The Steelers played well. I don’t think we did.” When questioned about the 21 penalties that appeared to have made it a sloppy game, Gregg replied, “It wasn’t sloppy, it was aggressive football.”

The Steelers lost safety Mike Wagner for the season with a cracked vertebrae below his neck.

AFC Central
San Diego 24 Cincinnati 3
Miami 27 Houston 7

Cleveland 2-1
Pittsburgh 2-1
Houston 2-1
Cincinnati 1-2









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Ben's early games with the Steelers.

The Steelers 1976 season in full.
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