By JOE DONATELLI
As you can see from the link above, Darin and I talked after the Browns-Steelers game this week. If you’re a fan of this site, you should give it a listen. I think you’ll enjoy it.
Sadly, during the call, I did not get a chance to thank all of the people who made this week’s Browns win possible. So I just want to do that right here.
I would like to thank Charlie Batch for not retiring when he reached middle age, right after the AFL-NFL merger.
I would like to thank the Steelers’ front office for keeping the cupboards so bare at backup QB. Is Tommy Maddox unavailable because he’s in the middle of the CFL Playoffs?
I would like to thank Plaxico Burress for stepping out of retirement. He hasn’t played since 2011, but to his credit he looked like he hadn’t played since 2008.
I would like to thank all four Steelers running backs for all of those fumbles. Holding onto the ball is not one of the first things you learn in Pee-Wee Football. It’s not a basic skill or anything. It takes years to figure out how not to give the ball to the other team when you have it. These guys can be excused.
I want to thank my buddy Jason (huge Steelers fan) for going to the game. The last time he went the Steelers lost that game, too. I am buying your ticket next year, Jay.
I want to thank Joe Haden for playing in this game. It’s so nice of him. How about no more missed games, Joe? Notice how the defense stops sucking when you’re out there? Just a thought.
I want to thank Trent Richardson for being the first Brown actually worth watching since 1999.
I want to thank Josh Gordon for doing something rare for the Browns and representing an approximate facsimile of an NFL receiver.
I would like to thank modern technology for allowing my blogging partner Darin Painter (who is still very depressed about this loss) to record our thoughts after the game and post a link to them on this website.
By DARIN PAINTER
My breakdown of the recorded conversation Joe and I had on Monday night (click on the audio link at the top of this blog entry):
0:09: By not picking up the phone immediately, Joe has obviously decided to prolong my agony. He knows he’s in control here, and it’s a veteran move on his part. The Browns rolled the Steelers, 20-14, in a game in which Pittsburgh made 117 turnovers. Hopefully we’ll hear his voice soon, and that he won’t gloat for the entire 22 minutes.
0:26: The image of Joe rubbing his body in confetti is only slightly disturbing to me, when it should be extremely disturbing.
1:16: Aside from watching the “game,” everyone had a great time at Karin Painter’s house in Greensburg, Pa. It’s so much better to watch the “game” with Steelers fans from the ‘Burgh rather than rooting for them alone on my couch in suburban Cleveland, staring blankly at our TV and then out the window, to the bitter cold, melancholy grayness and potential river fires that define the town.
1:30: OK, it was 8 turnovers, not 117. Same thing. All four Pittsburgh running backs — Rashard Mendenhall, Isaac Redman, Jonathan Dwyer and Chris Rainey — lost fumbles. Three came in the first half, leading to two field goals that gave the Browns a 13-7 lead.
2:44: “I respect your take even though I don’t respect your team.” This essentially sums up why I enjoy writing (or this week, voicing) the Browns Fan Vs. Steelers Fan blog with Joe. This idea wouldn’t work if Joe were angry, loud, dirty and one-eyed, like 99.9% of Cleveland sports fans.
4:30: Joe was talking to me from his temporary home in Athens, Ohio, where we both went to school at Ohio University. We graduated in 1998, the same year Charlie Batch was drafted by the Detroit Lions in the second round of the NFL draft. Joe and I actually watched Batch play against OU in Athens. (Batch played for Eastern Michigan, also in the Mid-American Conference.) The longer I write this paragraph, the older I feel. I’m going to end it now.
5:31: Batch graduated with a degree in criminal justice. He could actually do this!
6:28: Most Steelers fans miss the Pittsburgh/Cleveland rivalry, but that doesn’t mean we want them to beat us, ever. We only miss the rivalry because having one with Baltimore is ultra-annoying.
8:40: There’s no way the Browns keep Shurmur. He’s gone unless Cleveland wins out and finishes 8-8, in which case the thermostat in hell will read 31.9 F.
10:50: Just for the record, the Steelers have had coaches Chuck Noll, Bill Cowher and Mike Tomlin (all led teams to Super Bowl wins), while the Browns have had coaches Blanton Collier, Nick Skorich, Forrest Gregg, Dick Modzelewski, Sam Rutigliano, Marty Schottenheimer, Bud Carson, Jim Shofner, Bill Belichick (36-44 with Cleveland), Chris Palmer, Butch Davis, Terry Robiskie, Romeo Crennel, Eric Mangini and Shurmur. [Cue to Joe stabbing his left arm with a No. 2 pencil.]
12:15: Statistically, according to ESPN Stats & Information, one additional turnover forced or turnover avoided ads 0.207 wins to your total from the starting point of eight expected wins for a neutral margin. So win the battle by an average of one every game, and you’re looking at the expectation of an 11.3-win season. And unofficially, when the Steelers turn the ball over 8 times in a single game, you’re looking at a possible loss to the Smash, my son Gibson’s Jr. Flag football team, which finished 4-4-1.
15:05: The long-awaited debut of rookie guard David DeCastro could come Sunday in Baltimore after the Steelers activated him to their 53-man roster. DeCastro, their first-round draft choice, was placed on the newly created injured reserve/designated to return list after a knee injury in the third preseason game. He began practicing last week. I’m telling you, he will be the No. 1 reason Pittsburgh plays in the AFC Championship Game in late January.
15:23: Or it could turn out like 2009, when the Steelers lost to the three bottom-feeders in the league — Oakland, Kansas City and Cleveland — and missed the playoffs by one game. [Cue to me taking the No. 2 pencil from Joe.]
19:16: Did you enjoy this smooth transition? I should mention that I interview people for a living. Maybe I should have followed my true dream of becoming a shepherd.
21:30: There we go! That’s the spirit!