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Steelers' Ben Roethlisberger bracing for 'hostile' crowd in Cleveland

PITTSBURGH – Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is 8-1 against the Browns in Cleveland and his success in his native Ohio has been well documented.

He is used to hearing boos, especially from Cleveland’s famed “Dawg Pound” seating section. But Roethlisberger said fans might be louder than ever on Sunday with the Browns coming off a 29-28 win over the Tennessee Titans.

Quarterback Brian Hoyer rallied the Browns from a 28-3 deficit last Sunday in leading the largest road comeback in NFL regular-season history. Hoyer has the Browns at 2-2 and they should be brimming with confidence when they host the Steelers in a 1 p.m. ET game.

“This is as big of a game in Cleveland in probably a while, just because of their record, our record, the rivalry that’s there,” Roethlisberger said Wednesday. “I anticipate it being a hostile environment, maybe like nothing I’ve ever seen up there before.”

The Browns have been installed by oddsmakers as slight favorites in the game at FirstEnergy Stadium. They have rarely been favored to beat the Steelers since the NFL returned to Cleveland since 1999, and for good reason.

The Steelers have won 26 of the last 31 meetings between the AFC North foes, but the dynamics in what has been a one-sided rivalry shifted significantly in the last month.

The Browns did not roll over after falling behind the Steelers by 24 points in Pittsburgh on Sept. 7. Hoyer rallied them from a 27-3 halftime deficit and the Steelers needed a field goal by Shaun Suisham at the end of the game to avoid an embarrassing collapse.

A month later, Hoyer has the Browns really believing they can win, especially after they stunned the Titans with their comeback last Sunday.

“Cleveland wants to make a statement,” Steelers defensive end Cameron Heyward said. "They want to say that they’re back and they want to say that they can win this game.”

Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown agreed.

“I think they’ve got a lot of momentum going," the two-time Pro Bowl receiver said. "We should look for a great match up in the Dawg House. The intensity keeps rising.”