Eleven days ago, Browns defensive end Myles Garrett blew a gasket against the Steelers, reacting in a way that has resulted in Garrett being suspended for the rest of the season, and possibly beyond. With a rematch only six days away, the Browns are guarding against further efforts by the Steelers to bait a physical reaction after the whistle.
“I feel it is going to be a heated game,” cornerback Denzel Ward told reporters on Monday. “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.”
Ward isn’t concerned about his own ability to handle trash talk, and to avoid doing something that would hurt the team.
“I do not think that single player is going to be the difference of how a lot of guys feel going into this game,” Ward said. “Outside of what happened, there was still a lot of trash talking going on between specific players and just the rivalry within itself is going to spark a lot of emotions going into this game. . . . The emotions are going to be high obviously because of the situation that happened and what happened to Myles and some of our other guys, but we just have to go in there and focus on trying to pull out a win.”
The game will have a significant impact on the race for a wild-card berth. Given the number of teams clustered around 6-5 and 5-6 in the AFC, the outcome of the looming battle between the 5-6 Browns and 6-5 Steelers could knock out the loser — and propel the winner into the postseason.