Tuesday, September 16, 2014
DID MIKE PETTINE AND THE BROWNS REALLY FLIP THE SCRIPT?
I've watched the Browns for long enough to know to always expect the worst. They have managed to develop this weird template for losing that allows a key mistake help them end up on the short end of the stick week after painful week. Last Sunday when the Browns were handling business against a tough New Orleans Saints team a botched extra point was sticking out in my head as the catalyst for our next impending loss.
I could see it all in my head. The defense breaking down and allowing New Orleans back into the game. The offense not executing and keeping the pressure on. And eventually the Saints would complete a drive that normally would have tied the game, but due to that missed point and up giving them the the lead with about 3 minutes to play. Just to end up with the Browns burning all of their timeouts only to give the ball back after throwing a horrible interception somewhere around midfield. Saints take a knee and Browns fans are furious.
I could see the posts of people angry saying that we just lost a game because of a play that the league deemed so easy they are kicking around the idea of changing the rules of it. I could see the Brian Hoyer meltdown posts. I could see the people screaming for the coaches' heads.
Then the defense started to break down, the offense started to scuffle, and then they tied the game with a little less than three minutes to go... and they still had the extra point to kick. The nightmare was almost there when Brian Hoyer and the Browns offense took the field needing a score to win. The only real question was will they give it up on downs, or turn the ball over?
I was banking on turnover, but that didn't happen. Gary Barnidge made a clutch catch to keep the drive alive. Miles Austin pulled the double whammy by making a tough sideline catch and getting out of bounds for another first down. The Saints defense got desperate and called an all out blitz that was picked up, and allowed Andrew Hawkins his own zip code in the secondary. Hoyer stayed calm and delivered the ball for a big gain that setup the game winning Billy Cundiff field goal.
And with that not only did the Browns win their first home opener in a decade, they won a meaningful game against a quality opponent. They won a game in which they didn't depend on the other team to make mistakes. And most importantly the win comes before all hope is already dashed in the season.
In the end this team can hold their heads up high knowing that they simply outplayed one of the better teams in the game. They hung on versus a team that they genuinely don't match up well against. They overcame their mistakes, and were the better team.
Could it be a catalyst for something special? To be honest I find it ironic that it is the Saints that we got this big win off of. For years the Saints organization was very similar to what you have seen in Cleveland for the past decade in a half. They couldn't do anything right. They couldn't draft they couldn't utilize the talent they had. They were a joke, a laughing stock, no one took them seriously... until one fateful day in Cleveland.
After acquiring Drew Brees and hiring Sean Payton in 2006, the Saints weren't expected to make much splash. But they opened against the Browns in Cleveland and beat them in a tightly contested game 19-14. The win catapulted the team into much bigger and better things as the Saints finally became the feared Saints team that nobody would have believed existed in the 80's.
To me it is a great thought to think that maybe the Saints would provide us with the spark we needed to create a sustainable winner in Cleveland. It would be awesome, especially considering that we are without Jordan Cameron, Ben Tate and Josh Gordon.
During wins I usually like to name some standouts on the team and praise them for their efforts but this week is going to be hard. This was a great team win so I am going to congratulate not only the 53 players on the active roster, but the coaching staff, and most importantly the 70,000 that were in the stands watching it, you all did it.
So hopefully this isn't just one of our annual five wins, and the team has genuinely flipped the script. Only time will tell, In the meantime lets go ahead and soak this one in.