The Steelers take on the Cleveland Browns on Sunday at Heinz Field in a key AFC North matchup that is important to both teams as they are fighting to stay in the playoff hunt.
It will be a rematch of a game two weeks ago that the Browns won, 21-7, and ended in an ugly manner, with three players suspended and others fined.
Both teams will go into this week’s game solely focused on winning, with everything that happened last game in the rearview mirror.
“Quick turnaround to play Pittsburgh again two weeks after we played them last time,” said Browns Coach Freddie Kitchens. “Coach (Mike) Tomlin will have his team ready to play. Pittsburgh plays very well at home. They have 38 sacks on the year, and 30 of the have come at home. They are plus 9 on takeaway/giveaway at home so they have been very effective at home.
“I feel like Pittsburgh has been good for years. They are still good. Anytime you can do something over and over again successfully over a course of time that they have, that is special.”
Kitchens and the Browns weighed in on a variety of topics, including Devlin Hodges, takeaways and more.
Coach Freddie Kitchens on Devlin Hodges:
“I think he is competitive. He plays with passion. He is an NFL quarterback. He has the ability to go win the game for them. He just did it.”
Kitchens on Hodges starting earlier this season and having some tape on him:
“There is tape on him. There was tape on him last week when he came in. He did a good job of sparking them so I am sure he will bring passion and energy to the game and good decision making. We do not need to worry about who it is in particular. We need to worry about our job and doing our job. Everybody needs to do their job, and we will be fine.”
Odell Beckham Jr. on the scene and intensity expected at Pittsburgh:
“Another football game. Every game is intense. It is a rivalry already, so I think we all know what is at stake.”
Quarterback Baker Mayfield on the expected atmosphere at Pittsburgh:
“A playoff atmosphere. This game means a lot to both teams. Looking at the bigger picture, we talk about the singular focus, but there is no hiding how much this one really means.”
Cornerback Denzel Ward on the expected scene in Pittsburgh, given the rivalry and recent events:
“I feel it is going to be a heated game. Like I said, there is going to be a lot of trash talking. A lot of guys are going to try to get under your skin and do things that get you out of character, but we just have to stay poised and focused on what we are there to do, and that is win the game.”
Guard Joel Bitonio on how the team maintains its singular focus this week:
“I think it is pretty much easy for everybody. We are focused on trying to get a win this week. It is a new game. We played them. They know some of our tendencies, and we know some of theirs. I am sure they will change some things up from a defensive standpoint. We are focused on going to Heinz Field and playing our best game possible. You have all the outside noise and stuff. but once you get to gameday it is us versus them on the field, there are 11 guys on each side of the ball and we will be ready to roll.”
Kitchens on limiting Minkah Fitzpatrick’s impact during the previous game:
“We think Minkah is a very good player. He affects the game in several different areas. We expect him to come with his best game Sunday.”
Mayfield on the difference in the Steelers defense’s statistics on the home compared to the road, including sack totals:
“They really feed off of the energy of the crowd at home. I think the stat was 30 of their 38 sacks were at home so that just goes to show they feed off of that momentum, and they play well at home, so we have to do our job.”
Running back Nick Chubb on the expected environment at Pittsburgh on Sunday:
“I expect it to be a loud, hostile environment. We all know what happened last game. I am sure they did not forget. We are excited. We are happy to go in there and play in that type of high energy. Their fans will be into it, and we will be ready.”
Chubb on if he is expecting the Steelers defense to bring anything more this week, given the physical nature of the previous game and the Steelers offensive players who left the game:
“It does not matter at all. I am sure the next guy up will be ready to play a physical game and come as hard as ever so we are ready for it, too.”
Running back Kareem Hunt on the expected atmosphere at Pittsburgh on Sunday:
“Loud. Both sides because it is going to be a lot of Cleveland fans and it is going to be a lot of Pittsburgh Steelers fans. I feel like it is going to be real loud and a hard-hitting game.”
Mayfield on how the Steelers may defend the Browns differently this week:
“They had success there in the middle of the game when we hit that offensive lull so we can expect some of the same things. They played well defensively last week doing a lot of man coverage so we will see.”
Center J.C. Tretter on how different it is to play a team twice within three weeks and the challenges with it:
“It does not happen very often, I feel like, but it is one of those things where preparation wise the scouting of personnel and things will be easier and you will be able to go back to your notes and remember the things you watched on film. The week of preparation will be a little smoother, but it is kind of an odd thing to play a group, especially on a Thursday game, and then right back at it a week later. Yeah, it will be a little different.”