After watching a double-digit lead evaporate for the third consecutive week, the Browns fought back to go back on top when Mr. Automatic, Phil Dawson, booted a 56-yard field goal with just 46 seconds remaining.
Still, this was more than enough time for the Bills to make a last-ditch effort to pull out the victory. After a big kickoff return, a deep pass, and a few small-yardage running plays, Buffalo found themselves at the Browns’ 29 yard line with a chance to win the game, and the Browns looked doomed.
But on fourth down, Ryan Lindell’s 46-yard field goal sailed wide right and the Browns won the game, improving to 4-6 on the season.
In case you’re a little confused, let me repeat it: the Browns won the game.
After waking up exhilarated by the thrilling victory, my morning was quickly ruined as I began to absorb the opinions of bloggers and talk-show callers who appeared to have turned off the game and gone to bed after Buffalo went ahead with three minutes left to play.
The tone of these “fans” was quite disheartening. They actually made it sound like the Browns lost the game. So I wondered, was the Browns’ winning a dream? Did the Browns actually lose? I frantically checked NFL.com. I was right! It wasn’t a dream at all. The Browns really did win!
Yet, as my day continued, I continued to hear about how the Browns’ win was “ugly.” I heard the all-too-familiar cliché, “a win is a win.” And I heard how the Browns and their fans shouldn’t be too happy with the win.
Well, entitled to their opinions as Browns fans may be, consider me officially fed up.
I think all Browns fans will admit that the team has been a huge disappointment this season. But after ten weeks of inconsistent and vexing play, shouldn’t it have sunk in by now that the Browns are just not a very good team?
After all, against Buffalo, the Browns were plagued with many of the same things that have plagued them all season. For starters, the Browns did not capitalize on opportunities to blow the game open, and later, put the game away.
Offensively, they converted only three of 13 third downs. Their “star” receiver dropped passes at critical moments, and they did not establish the running game.
Defensively, the Browns’ tackling was embarrassing. When they had a large lead, they played soft and lost their focus. They gave up nearly five yards per carry on the ground and their pass rush was virtually non-existent, as they did not even register a sack.
Nevertheless, despite all of this frustration, the Browns made just enough plays to come away with the win. So why aren’t Browns fans ecstatic about the victory?
You know, the Browns weren’t the only team on the field trying to win the game. At 5-4, the Bills were absolutely desperate to end a four game losing streak and get themselves back into playoff contention. They scratched and clawed until the bitter end, knowing that a win would put them right in the thick of things in the crowded AFC, where five teams are already 6-4.
But on the road, in an extremely hostile environment, the Browns fought harder. Rather than fold up their tents (or “quit,” as some Browns players might say), Brady Quinn and the offense rallied and put their team in a position to win. That’s right, Brady Quinn: a guy making his second career start.
If someone gave you a million dollars, all in pennies, would you say “no thanks” because it’s not as “pretty” as a big fancy cardboard check with all the zeros on it? Of course not, because it all spends the same, right?
But yet, Browns fans seem to discount the wins over Buffalo and Cincinnati because they weren’t as pretty as the thrashing of the Giants. Well, the next time you look at the standings, see if you can tell the difference between these wins.
The Baltimore Ravens won a Super Bowl based on so-called “ugly” wins. Now that they have the Lombardi Trophy, does anyone care how “nice” their victories were en route to the championship?
If you want to watch a team that dominates every week, watch replays of the 2007 Patriots. The Patriots crushed nearly everyone they faced for 18 games. Look where that got them.
The fact of the matter is that the Browns have what amounts to a rookie quarterback, a bi-polar wide receiver, and a porous defense. They are one of 17 NFL teams with a record between 4-6 and 6-4. That’s right: more than half of the teams in the league are nothing more than mediocre.
So do fans really expect the Browns to play a perfect game each week? To the contrary, the fact that the Browns can pull out a win while playing less than perfect is indeed a cause for celebration.
As all Browns fans know, wins are hard enough to come by as it is. So why do fans feel the need to treat wins like losses? Do the Browns frustrate us? Definitely.
They have tons of holes and vast room for improvement. But against Buffalo, they did what it takes to win, on the road no less. And for that, Browns fans should be nothing less than thrilled.
There’s no such thing as a good loss, and there’s no such thing as an ugly win. The Browns won. Period. And that’s beautiful.
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