Do you believe in miracles? Cleveland fans have an easy answer for that one.
For years, Cleveland fans have had little excitement coming from the Browns organization. Just four seasons ago, Cleveland lost all 16 regular-season games under former head coach Hue Jackson. In the previous nine seasons, Cleveland never won more than eight games.
Sunday night, Cleveland fans finally had cause for celebration with a 48-37 victory over their AFC North rival, the Pittsburgh Steelers. This postseason win marks Cleveland’s first since 1994. To put that into perspective for people, Former NFL MVP’s Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson weren’t even born. Former Heisman winner Vinny Testaverde was the quarterback, and Bill Belichick was the head coach. On top of it all, Belichick went on to beat the New England Patriots in the wild card game.
Cleveland’s storied history is one of the most well known in football. With names like Paul and Jim Brown in their resume, winning was a Cleveland tradition prior to 1999. Once the organization was brought back, though, things changed. Since bringing back operations in 1999, the Browns’ regular-season record has been 112-239-1. Things have been looking up since drafting Baker Mayfield first overall in 2018, though. With the acquisitions of Wide receivers Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry, on top of the drafting of running back Nick Chubb, there’s finally light at the end of the tunnel.
After beating the Steelers in week 17 of the regular season, Cleveland had earned a spot in the playoffs for the first time since 2002. That year, Tim Couch led Cleveland to the playoffs, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers pummeled NFL MVP Rich Gannon and his Oakland Raiders in the Super Bowl. With many people counting Cleveland out due to the loss of head coach Kevin Stefanski to Covid-19, and many star players including Denzel Ward and Joel Bitonio to injuries or Covid-19 as well, Cleveland Players had something to prove.
From the very first play of the game, a statement was made as the defense recovered the first snap in the end zone for six points. Cleveland would go on to score 22 more points in the first quarter, tying the Oakland Raiders for the most ever points in the first quarter of a playoff game. What an exciting moment for Cleveland fans. Their victory over the Steelers was no walk in the park, though.
While Ben Roethlisberger did throw four interceptions in the game, he also threw for over 500 passing yards. “Big Ben” also broke the record for most completed passes in a game in NFL history with 47. With those kinds of numbers coming from Roethlisberger, the win feels that much sweeter. For me, being able to watch a big win over a team like the Pittsburgh Steelers in the playoffs is huge. It’s even more amazing of a feeling watching the game with friends who have been through the tough times and sad losses with you. The little taste of victory has us hungry for more.
The Cleveland Browns will go on to play last year’s Super Bowl champions, the Kansas City Chiefs, next Sunday. While the feeling of victory’s a sweet taste, Cleveland players and fans alike know there’s more work to be done. In the words of Juju Smith- Schuster, “The Browns is the Browns”. There is nothing fans and players would rather be.