If it’s the final game of the regular season for the Steelers of recent vintage, it must be Cleveland on the other side.
And the Browns must be starting a journeyman quarterback.
For the seventh time in Mike Tomlin’s 10-year tenure, the Steelers will end their regular season with a game against the Browns. Considering Cleveland is 38-105 since Tomlin’s first season-ending meeting with the Browns in 2008, it should come as no surprise that these Cleveland teams facing the Steelers haven’t been of the best quality (.278 average winning percentage).
Tomlin’s Steelers have won all six of these prior meetings, outscoring the Browns 157-47 (average of 26.2-7.8).
But with the Browns always having been eliminated (of course), that’s helped contribute – along with some other unfortunate factors – to some less-than-heralded quarterbacks lining up to face the Steelers in these late December/early January, er, showdowns.
Of the seven prior Browns quarterbacks to start against the Steelers in season finales, three had fewer than 10 career starts heading into the game (including one making his NFL debut), three had their FINAL game they started and finished in the NFL and another was making his first start in more than two years.
In other words, the Steelers haven’t traditionally been facing the Browns *starters* in these games. (Insert punchline here about that being a good thing in light of their starters in this time period being the likes of Brady Quinn, Brandon Weeden and Johnny Manziel).
The six men who have started for the Browns at QB in Week 17 against Mike Tomlin’s Steelers have combined to post a passer rating of 50.6 in these games, ranging from the relatively-impressive 83.3 by the immortal Thaddeus Lewis in his NFL debut Dec. 30, 2012 — to the 1.0 rating that poor future Steeler (and Seton-LaSalle alum) Bruce Gradkowski put up in a 31-0 loss on Dec. 28, 2008.
Season Result Browns QB Stats (com-att, yds, TD-INT (rtg) Cle QB history
2008 31-0 Pit W Bruce Gradkowski 5- 16, 18 yds, 0-2 (1.0) 1st start in 2+ years
2010 41-9 Pit W Colt McCoy 20- 41, 241 yds, 1-3 (71.2) 8th career start
2011 13-9 Pit W Seneca Wallace 16- 41, 177 yds, 0-1 (42.4) Final start he finished
2012 24-10 Pit W Thaddeus Lewis 22- 32, 204 yds, 1-1 (83.3) 1st career NFL game
2013 20-7 Pit W Jason Campbell 23- 41, 240 yds, 1-1 (71.2) Final NFL start
2015 28-12 Pit W Austin Davis 24- 46, 240 yds, 0-2 (49.2) 10th start, final game
TOTALS PIT 6-0, 157-47 score 110-for-217 (50.7 %), 1,088 yards, 3 TDs, 10 INTs
This year, we get the added bonus of adding Landry Jones to this list of QBs who have started in this season-finale series – albeit, him for the Steelers.
Enjoy the game Sunday. And Happy New Year.