Cleveland have suffered four sporting heartbreaks over the past decade. Firstly, the Cavaliers lost LeBron James to the Miami Heat. Then, in 2016, the Indians lost in Game Seven of the World Series. In 2017, the Cleveland Browns suffered an atrocious 0-16 campaign. Finally, the Cavs lost LeBron James AGAIN, this time to the Los Angeles Lakers.
Whilst LeBron is gone for good, the city of Cleveland can rejoice on one of these travesties at least. The Cleveland Browns have won a game of football. What’s that? You want it louder for those in the back? THE CLEVELAND BROWNS HAVE WON A GAME OF FOOTBALL!
— LeBron James (@KingJames) September 21, 2018
What could have been
They have had a frustrating start to the season. They are 1-1-1 following their Thursday Night Football fixture, yet they could so easily be 3-0. Kicker Zane Gonzalez finds himself a free agent after his abysmal early season kicking performances. Had the Texan-born kicker managed to do his job, he’d have beaten the Steelers, while the defeat to the Saints would have been a fairly comfortable victory.
They had twice been within touching distance of victory in the opening two weeks. Finally, in a home match up against the New York Jets, the Browns crossed the line. The reason that the Browns have been improved this season is that their defence have kept them in games. A sack on Sam Darnold, forcing the new king of NYC off the field, was a powerful statement by the Cleveland D. The Jets had a pretty solid defence themselves though, racking up two sacks in the opening quarter. The Jets special teams joined the party, blocking a field goal to put pressure on Cleveland.
The first play of the second quarter saw Isaiah Crowell run in a TD for the Jets, a real gut-punch, considering the running back spent a couple of years with Cleveland during their bleak spell. Tyrod Taylor was once again sacked deep in his own territory. The second quarter was only two minutes old and was already becoming a disaster. The disaster was exacerbated as Crowell ran in his second TD for the Jets, the resulting PAT making the game 14-0.
Another sack on Taylor ended the Browns drive, with the crowd chanting “Baker Mayfield!”. The fans got their wish, though only as a result of the former Bills QB being put in concussion protocol. Baker’s first throw was caught by Landry for a first down. The fans erupted!
The tide turned in the 3rd quarter. Baker Mayfield played the full second half as the 14 point deficit was matched. The Browns forced a turnover deep into Jets territory. A field goal resulted to make it 14-6.
Carlos Hyde ran in a TD bringing the score to 14-12. Being within a field goal score, coach Hue Jackson made the call on the sideline to go for two. A trick play saw the new darling of Cleveland, Baker Mayfield, catch the ball to tie the game up at 14-14. Super Bowl 2018 MVP Nick Foles would have been proud of that catch!
Jason Myers finished off a strong Jets drive by kicking his field goal attempt between the posts to put them 17-14 up.
Cleveland suffered a scare as Duke Johnson caught a pass for a first down, only to drop it. Thankfully it was scooped up by his teammate Rashard Higgins. Hyde finished off the drive by rushing across the goal plain, though to the distress of the Dawg Pound, their offence committed a penalty, eradicating the TD and moving the play back 10 yards.
Rookie Nick Chubb ran the ball down to the 3 yard line. It came down to 3rd and goal. The pressure was on. Mayfield handed the ball to former San Francisco 49er Carlos Hyde to punch the ball over the line. The PAT gave the Browns a 4 point lead with just minutes to go.
Jermaine Kearse made an incredible catch on a bizarre 4th and 10 call by the Jets. Their hope was kicked into the dust with the next play however, as Darnold threw into the hands of Joe Schobert to clinch the game.
Both Cleveland and the Jets will have had this match up pencilled in as a victory on their projections sheet. The Browns have suffered some tough blows over the past year, and have shown themselves to be a very likeable team on Hard Knocks. This win has been a long time coming for Cleveland and I for one am thrilled to see them pick up the W for the first time in 635 days!