As the great Coach Herb Brooks said in the movie Miracle, “Great moments are born from great opportunity.”
Tonight, the 5-3 Cleveland Browns have a chance to assert themselves as a legitimate contender in the AFC North. It’s a serious showdown on Thursday night against the 5-2-1 Cincinnati Bengals in their house.
Interestingly enough, there have been a few previous great opportunities for the Browns when a road game in Cincinnati is next on their schedule. In 2007 and last year as well, the Browns had a chance to prove a serious point, but failed to do so both times.
In 2007, the 9-5 Browns trudged into Cincinnati with the opportunity to clinch a playoff birth for the first time since the 2002 season. At the time, Derek Anderson was at the helm for Cleveland. The dynamic connection of Anderson to star wideout Braylon Edwards was one that opposing secondaries could not match. That year, those two connected 80 times for 1,289 yards and 16 touchdowns.
Cleveland fell down 19-0 and despite a gallant effort at a comeback the Browns lost by a score of 19-14. The 5-9 Bengals had shocked the Browns right out of the playoffs.
Last season, the stakes weren’t quite as high. The Browns entered a game in Cincinnati coming off of a bye week with a 4-5 record. After an injury to Brian Hoyer, quarterback Jason Campbell was calling the shots. The team was coming off of a nice win over the Baltimore Ravens two weeks earlier by a score of 24-18. At that point, a victory would propel the Browns right back into the playoff picture….somehow.
Early on, Browns corner back Joe Haden had two interceptions and retuned one of those back all the way for a touchdown. The Browns shockingly held a 13-0 lead on the road. Disaster struck in the second quarter when Cincinnati blocked two Browns punts in the SAME QUARTER. Their offense put up 31 points in ONE QUARTER and essentially ended all hope for the Cleveland Browns. The final score was 41-20 and that was the beginning of a Browns seven game losing streak to end an awful year of football.
THIS season is different. The Browns have an identity of playing smash-mouth football against any opponent that stands in their way. With the addition of veteran leaders on the defense such as SS Donte Whitner and LB Karlos Dansby, there is no longer a sense of a prime time blowout awaiting the Browns.
On offense, we finally have a ‘sound’ (a fair word for both Hoyer and Johnny fans) quarterback leading the team in Brian Hoyer. Wide receiver Andrew Hawkins is making his return to play against his former team.
IT’S TIME THAT THE BROWNS ENDED THE CINCINASTY CURSE!
Tonight, a great opportunity awaits the Browns. A win and the team is tied for first place. A loss and the struggle for a playoff birth becomes very difficult.
A win and the Browns show the world that — WE MEAN BUSINESS!