The Latest on 12:25 p.m. (all times local):
The war of words between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cleveland Browns has spilled into their wardrobes.
After Browns coach Freddie Kitchens was spotted wearing a T-shirt that read “Pittsburgh started it” — a reference to the brawl that marred the end of Cleveland’s 21-7 win over the Steelers on Nov. 14 — Cleveland wide receiver Jarvis Landry rocked a sweatshirt emblazed with “Revenge” walking to the visiting locker room at Heinz Field hours before kickoff in the rematch.
Several Steelers responded with provocative T-shirts of their own.
A handful wore shirts that screamed “Free Pouncey,” a nod to starting center Maurkice Pouncey, who is serving the second game of a two-game suspension for kicking and punching Browns defensive end Myles Garrett after Garrett ripped off Pittsburgh quarterback Mason Rudolph’s helmet and smacked him with it on the next-to-last snap of the first meeting.
Pittsburgh cornerback Cam Sutton took a cruder approach, sporting a sweatshirt of a child in a Steelers helmet urinating on someone dressed in Browns gear.
A rivalry already steeped in ill feelings got a lot uglier last month with the brawl between the Steelers and Browns in Cleveland.
On Sunday, the teams meet again in Pittsburgh, with both on the outskirts of playoff contention and needing a victory.
But the focal point, at least heading into the rematch a mere 17 days after the massive fight that resulted in Garrett being suspended indefinitely, is on how high the level of animosity might be. And whether it will impact the performances of the Steelers (6-5) and Browns (5-6).
“I know that it is going to be a lot of trash talking out there and a lot of guys are going to try and get into your head and do things to try and get you out of character,” Browns defensive back Denzel Ward said. “You just have to think about the betterment of the team and just go out there and win the game, but do not do any stupid penalties or anything toward the other team that could hurt this team.”
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