Sep. 17—There are no two ways about it. The Browns want to play the role of Ghostbusters when they enter Acrisure Stadium in Pittsburgh on Sept. 18.
First, there is the ghost that has prevented them from starting 2-0 since 1993. Then there's the ghost that has prevented them from winning a regular-season game in Pittsburgh since 2003. And finally there is the Ghost of Monday Nights.
Since "Monday Night Football" was introduced to the nation on Sept. 21, 1970, when the Browns beat the Jets, 31-21, in front of 85,703 fans at Cleveland Municipal Stadium, the Steelers have appeared on MNF 77 times. Their .675 winning percentage (52-25) is the highest of any team with a minimum of 50 appearances. The Steelers 29-5 at home in those marquee games.
"We don't worry about that," Browns defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz said Sept. 15. "They have a great, great storied history of defense. We have a lot of respect for what they've done and things like that. But none of that is going to mean anything on Monday night. It's going to be the two teams this year.
"Let me know if Mean Joe (Joe Greene) and Jack Lambert are playing, because if we need a plan for Franco Harris or Lynn Swann or John Stallworth or Franco or Terry Bradshaw, we'll get that ready. But those guys aren't playing. This is a new year."
This is the Browns' only scheduled appearance on "MNF" this season. They were deemed not worthy of playing on "Sunday Night Football" in 2023. They have a "Thursday Night Football" game at home against the Jets on Dec. 28. But there is no glamor in playing four nights after playing on Sunday. Players view those games as a chore.
"I'm glad to make it to this one," Browns defensive end Myles Garrett said. "Last year I couldn't say the same. So I'm always looking forward to playing a game, whether it's at 1 (p.m.), 4 or it's late night on Sunday or it's on Monday night.
"We're all glad to have this opportunity. A Monday night special. I'm sure I'll get more amped up as we get even closer."
The Browns played one of their best games of 2022 on Halloween night, a Monday. They were 2-5 and lost four straight games heading into the game, but they crushed the Bengals, 32-13, at FirstEnergy Stadium and then lost their next two games.
The Browns and Steelers are both dealing with injuries to key players.
Browns wide receiver Amari Cooper is listed as doubtful with a groin injury suffered in practice Sept. 16. The Steelers are without Pro Bowl defensive tackle Cam Heyward (groin injury) and wide receiver Dionte Johnson (hamstring, 86 catches last year).
Cooper caught three passes for 37 yards in the season opener. He led the Browns in all three receiving categories in 2022 in his first year in Cleveland — 78 catches, 1,160 receiving yards and nine touchdown catches.
Cooper's likely absence could mean more playing time for Marquise Goodwin. Cooper played 46 snaps in the opener with the Bengals. Goodwin was on the field for 10 snaps. Donovan Peoples-Jones and Elijah Moore were on the field for 66 and 51 snaps respectively.
BROWNS AT STEELERS
When: 8:15 p.m., Sept. 18
Where: Acrisure Stadium, Pittsburgh
Records: Browns 1-0, Steelers 0-1
TV: WEWS; Radio: WKRK-FM 92.3, WNCX-FM 98.5, WKNR-AM 850