For one day, (almost) everyone in Brownstown is happy
Like most things in life, there was good and bad on display Sunday at Cleveland Browns Stadium, but for one day, at least, the Browns were able to overcome the bad and walk out with a win. In beating the Cincinnati Bengals, the Browns snapped franchise-record-tying 11-game losing streak, as well as a 12-game losing streak in the AFC North, and gaves Brown coach Pat Shurmur his first division win.
“It’s great to finally have a win behind us, a win underneath our belts,” said Josh Gordon. “The losses were definitely something that we needed to help build a lot of character and see where everybody’s heads are at. Today everybody definitely battled back, fought the whole sixty minutes, the whole four quarters. We are glad to come out with a win.”
Gordon caught his third touchdown pass of the season on Sunday and now co-leads the NFL in touchdown receptions among rookies. He is also second in receiving yards, only 11 yards behind Tennessee’s Kendall Wright – despite Wright having almost triple the number of receptions.
The return of Joe Haden from his four-game suspension also elevated the play of the corner backs (even if it didn’t do anything for the tackling abilities of the safeties). According to Pro Football Focus, while Haden gave up seven receptions (in 10 targets) for 98 yards and a touchdown, he broke up two passes and also had an interception in the third quarter as the defense locked down the Bengals and bought the offense time to get its act together.
Sheldon Brown obviously benefited from Haden’s comeback, as the veteran allowed just three receptions for 22 yards and had a pick-6 that helped seal the win.
“We feel like we have playmakers,” Haden said. “You know what I’m saying, that everybody just feels like they have to step up and keep doing their job; keep getting three and outs. And even if, like coach always says, stop the bleeding. They’re going to make a play that’s going to be big for their team. So, once they make that play, we just have to make sure the next one is ours, and I feel like that’s what we did.”
Even Josh Cribbs got into the act, returning a punt 61 yards (which only resulted in a Phil Dawson field goal, but still) and a 44-yard kickoff return.
“His returns are a huge spark,” Shurmur said. “God knows what’s going to happen when Cribbs has the ball in his hand, especially on punt returns. We talk about whether he plays offense or not, but when he’s out there and the field is wide and there’s bodies all over the place he just has a unique ability to make plays. He did the same thing in coverage. His presence on the field on special teams is not undervalued in my mind and his punt returns, of course, his kick returns did give us a jump.”
Things are certainly not perfect – especially considering the Browns are 1-5 – and if the Browns get too full of themselves they can easily drop their game this Sunday against Indianapolis.
“All along I’ve talked about how I’ve seen this team improve and we all know this is a winning business so now we can quantify how this improvement points to winning,” Shurmur said. “So now once you’ve done something once then it’s important that you repeat it. Now the effort that I’ll put in will be about making sure that we continue the process and that work will be consistent. You try to recreate it all over and over and over. That sounds cliché, but that’s the issue.
“When you lose it’s a team thing, and when you win, it’s a team thing. I’m very proud of those guys. Tthat’s why you play the game, to have this feeling. Now we’ll enjoy it here for a few hours, and then get back early and get ready to play the Colts.
“We play this game, and you put a bunch of men together to go out and play a game so that you can feel the joy of winning, so when it happens, it’s terrific. Not so much for me, but for my family, the players, really everybody who goes to work on Monday morning. Monday’s feel better when you win a game.”
That they do.
(Photo by ClevelandBrowns.com)