The best Browns game of my lifetime


(AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth)

Cleveland Browns’ Joel Bitonio (75) and Kareem Hunt (27) celebrate a touchdown run by Hunt in the second half of an NFL football game against the Dallas Cowboys in Arlington, Texas, Sunday, Oct. 4, 2020. (AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth)

Kyle Kelly, Sports Editor

I’ve been a Cleveland Browns fan all my life. And last Sunday was the most fun I have ever had watching a Browns game.

Covering the Browns is what interested me in pursuing a career in this industry. I “started” sports writing by “covering” the Browns for some rather new Cleveland sports websites. During high school, I would listen to Cleveland sports talk radio ‘round the clock because I loved the coverage of the Browns. 

During the putrid 1-15 and 0-16 seasons and every miserable slate of games leading up to it, I woke up at 7 a.m. on Sunday morning to listen to Browns pregame radio until kickoff at 1 p.m. Once the ball left the tee and soared into the sky, there was no moving from my seat for the next three hours.

Then, the Browns’ losses became a horrible tradition. On occasion, if I was so lucky, I saw a surprising win. Win, lose or tie, I listened to Browns postgame radio until 6 p.m. 

Twelve hours every Sunday in the fall for the last decade (and more) … wasted by historic losing. And that is what made last Sunday’s win so great.

Following a 49-38 win on the road against “America’s team,” the Dallas Cowboys, it was tough to find a record or new milestone the Browns didn’t break.

Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) celebrates on the field after their 49-38 win against the Dallas Cowboys in an NFL football game in Arlington, Texas, Sunday, Oct. 4, 2020. (AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth) ((AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth))

For the first time since 2001, the Browns are 3-1. They scored 31 points in the first half, the most in a Browns game since Dec. 1, 1991 (ESPN). Even with one of the best running backs in the NFL, Nick Chubb, going down early in the game, the Browns still had three players rush for over 70 yards: This was the first time in team history that they accomplished this feat. The Browns now have 818 rushing yards on the season — the most in the NFL.

Offensive football is fun football, and the Browns were on the offensive all day Sunday.

Odell Beckham Jr. has struggled to find his stride in Cleveland since being acquired by the Browns in March of 2019. On Sunday, he scored three touchdowns and did so in amazing fashion.

The Browns $125 million pass rusher, Myles Garrett, had his third strip-sack in the last three weeks. Garrett looks like the front-runner to win Associated Press Defensive Player of the Year.

Of course, no Browns win is easy. Even though the Browns led 41-14 with slightly over a quarter of football left to play, the Cowboys scored 24 unanswered points which made it a three-point football game. 

Then, OBJ emerged to give the Browns some breathing room.

Dallas still put the pressure on the Browns. That’s when it was Denzel Ward’s time to shine. The former No. 4 overall pick in the NFL Draft, Ward has struggled with injuries throughout his career. But when healthy, Ward is one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL. With the Cowboys just four yards away from reaching the end zone, Ward intercepted Dak Prescott to seal the victory.

I am still not convinced that the Browns are good at football. I am not convinced the Browns can be a playoff team. I have been hurt too many times before to fully believe that Cleveland can make the postseason for the first time since 2002. Or have its first winning season since 2007. However, the signs are saying that they can.

This Sunday, the Browns could play their most important game of the season. The Indianapolis Colts visit FirstEnergy Stadium with a 3-1 record, and both teams will likely go head-to-head in the wildcard race later in the season. A win on Sunday for Cleveland could give the Browns the upper hand over the Colts later in the season for a bid to the playoffs. 

With a formidable Colts defense coming to town, I don’t expect the Browns to light up the scoreboard like they did last Sunday. However, the Browns have shown they can win football games and as fans, we are long overdue to win games we aren’t supposed to win. 

The Browns are two-and-a-half point underdogs on Sunday. But with the Dawg Pound still riding high after last week’s win, there would be no better time for the Browns to scrape together an upset.