Joe Haden is finishing the regular season against the same team he started it with, but with a different ending than ever before. “I'm just excited,” Haden said, “that this isn't my last game of the year.” Seven seasons with the Cleveland Browns ended the same way, with the finale serving as the final game. Six were against the Steelers. That makes Sunday's Steelers-Browns game at Heinz Field even more special for Haden, who switched sides in the AFC North rivalry after the Steelers signed him hours after the Browns released the star cornerback. “Once that happened, once I got released by Cleveland,” Haden said, “I just knew that I had a bright future ahead of me.” In a week that saw the Steelers release their all-time sacks leader after James Harrison sulked about his playing time, Haden has been all smiles. Where the Browns (0-15) are trying to avoid a winless season, Haden is headed to the postseason for the first time in his career. “After going through this whole season, it's a blessing to be here on this team going into the playoffs,” Haden said. “If I was still there, I would have been still playing the same amount: hard, giving it everything I got. I could easily be in that position. “I'm here, not doing anything different but it's a completely different outcome. My skill set, (the Browns) felt like they didn't need any more. But here, it's accepted and appreciated, and I couldn't be any happier.” Neither could the Steelers, as Haden drew praise from coach Mike Tomlin and defensive coordinator Keith Butler for his coverage of Houston Texans star DeAndre Hopkins.
Joe Haden 'excited' for his 1st postseason
Pittsburgh Tribune Review | Dec 31