The Cleveland Browns have been the laughing stock of the NFL for the majority of the time since the franchise came back to the league in 1999.
Those Cleveland teams would have lost Saturday’s game against the Denver Broncos.
In Denver, the Browns won 17-16, keeping their playoff chances alive, at least for another day (the Pittsburgh win on Sunday virtually eliminated Cleveland).
Yes there was a tie in Week 1. Yes there was a loss at the buzzer in Week 2. And yes, there were three overtime games since then, with Cleveland going 1-2 in those games.
Even with the old coaching regime of Hue Jackson and Todd Haley and even with Tyrod Taylor as the starting quarterback, the Browns were competitive and in those games.
But, these are not the same old Browns that everyone once knew. These Browns are no longer a push over and opponents cannot overlook them on the schedule.
These Browns are different. It has been a different season. The vibe and buzz around the team is something that has not been felt in some time.
This young team is learning as it goes every week. Baker Mayfield is developing before our eyes each game. The receivers and tight ends are getting better. The defense, even with some injuries, is flying around the field and creating tons of turnovers.
Saturday was not the best game of the season by any means. It was far from Mayfield’s best game, the offense stalled on some drives, and the defense gave up a handful of big plays in the air.
But the Browns found a way to pull the game out and go home with a victory.
The defense stepped up when it mattered most. Safety Jabrill Peppers had his best game in a Browns uniform.
He intercepted Case Keenum in the end zone right before half time and recorded the game winning sack on a Denver fourth down play with 43 seconds left. Peppers recorded six total tackles and broke up one pass.
Cleveland cannot be overlooked. The future of the Browns is bright and the fans truly have something to look forward to for seasons to come.
On Saturday against the Broncos, it showed that. The Browns for the last two-plus decades would have lost that game, and would have maybe found a new way to lose in the process.
These Browns found a way to win, and that is what good football teams do: find a way to win close games- especially on the road- when it is not the best preformance turned in as a team.