The 8-5 Cleveland Browns hosted the 5-8 Chicago Bears last Sunday afternoon. Plagued with injuries, the Browns continue to make a run at the AFC Playoffs holding the 5th seed as a Wildcard Team. To be honest this team could still make a run at the AFC North Division Championship. They went into the game two games behind the Baltimore Ravens with four regular season games remaining. But the Chicago Bears were not an opponent to take lightly.
The Bears did have a 5-8 record and they had slim NFC playoff hopes. However, they won 3 of their last 5 games, including the previous week’s impressive home win over the NFC North-leading Detroit Lions. The Bear’s defense is ranked 12th and their offense led by athletic quarterback Justin Fields is ranked 21st in the league. The Chicago Bears were not the easy win Browns fans might expect. Also, don’t forget that the Browns have a list of injured players longer than both of my daughter’s Christmas lists.
For me to list all the Browns players injured this season, I would run out of space for this article. In a nutshell, this Cleveland Browns team continues to show resilience. They hoped to have some players back from injury. S Juan Thornhill, CB Denzel Ward and C Ethan Pocic were hopeful to return to the starting lineup. Pocic and Thornhill did not play and Ward played on a limited snap count. The Browns also lost G Joel Bitonio early in the game. The only starter left on the offensive line is G Wyatt Teller. Browns fans keep asking how much more can this team endure and keep winning.
Apparently, this team can endure more than we think. The Cleveland Browns defeated the Chicago Bears 20-17. Joe Flacco went from heel to hero in a matter of one quarter of football. Through three quarters Joe Flacco threw for one TD and three interceptions for 162 yards. In the 4th quarter, he went on to throw for 212 yards and a touchdown. Setting up a Dustin Hopkins game-winning field goal with 32 seconds remaining in the game. Flacco finished with 374 yards passing, two touchdowns, three interceptions and a quarterback rating of 77.3. It was an amazing comeback win. But what kept the Browns in this game was the defense.
The Browns defense played dominant. 14 of the Bears’ points were one interception returned for a touchdown and another interception returned to the Browns one-yard line. Effectively, the Browns defense gave up only three points. The Bears offense was held to 236 total yards and 12 first downs. The Browns defense had two sacks and created two turnovers. The Bears’ third turnover was a muffed punt in the 3rd quarter. The Browns remain the AFC 5th seed in the playoffs with a 9-5 record.
The team has shown a next man up next team up mentality. Their toughness and resilience are the story of the 2023 season. Browns fans are witnessing something special with this team. The team’s story will continue on Christmas Eve in Houston against the Texans. This has been a memorable season for Cleveland. Next week, why not have another memorable Christmas Story for Cleveland? But instead of Red Ryder BB Gun, Browns fans want a win and a playoff berth!