CLEVELAND, Ohio (92.3 The Fan) – There was no champagne on ice awaiting the Browns in their locker room Sunday, but maybe there should have been.
Cleveland’s long-beleaguered football team beat the Washington Football Team 34-20, pushing them to 2-1 for the first time since 2011 and above .500 for the first time in what has felt like an eternity.
“First and foremost, this is a football town,” quarterback Baker Mayfield, who completed 16 of 23 passes for 156 yards and two touchdowns, said. “They deserve to have a great franchise and a great team, but we are worried about right now.
“Like I said before the season started, it is about building that culture, bringing the right guys in and pushing this thing in the right direction, which is what we have been doing and we are trying to do. We have to build on this momentum and keep going one game at a time.”
Okay, it was Dec. 14, 2014 when they were 7-6 and well on their way to the bottom completely falling out. It took 85 games for them to reach the summit again.
The Browns became the laughingstock of professional sports for 3 years, but since Mayfield took over as the starter in 2018, the laughing has stopped and tears have turned to cheers as he has helped lead the franchise through a steady climb out of the abyss.
Sunday’s win was simply the next rung on the ladder to climb.
“We are just trying to go 1-0 every week,” head coach Kevin Stefanski deadpanned when asked about the significance of the milestone.
Pardon Stefanski for not feeling the same elation Cleveland does as fans bask in that warm light that is finally shining brightly through what was once a dark tunnel of hopelessness.
Defensive end Myles Garrett, who tallied two more sacks to up his career total to 33.5 in 40 games Sunday, arrived a year before Mayfield did and he suffered through that 0-16 season as a rookie, making Sunday’s win sweet and one for him to savor.
“I made that very clear to the guys, we have a chance that we have not had in a long time just to have a winning record, whether it is early or late,” Garrett said. “We have to take advantage of the opportunity. We have to start changing history here and our legacies right now. This is the opportunity to do it.”
The win over Washington was hardly perfect but the Browns refused to allow the opportunity to slip away.
The defense forced five turnovers and the offense flipped them into 24 points.
After watching a 17-7 lead turn into a 20-17 deficit in the third quarter the Browns responded with 17 unanswered to close out the afternoon.
Running backs Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt are evoking memories of the last dynamic duo to roll out of the Browns backfield – Kevin Mack and Earnest Byner – 30 years ago.
The dynamic duo accounted for 174 more yards from scrimmage and 3 touchdowns Sunday and have 555 yards combined from scrimmage and 7 touchdowns through 3 games.
“Every week is important. We went 1-0 this week,” Chubb, who ran for 108 yards and a pair of touchdowns, said. “We have to keep doing that.
It shows some positivity. We just have to find a way [to keep doing it].”
Hunt added 46 yards on the ground and caught a pair of passes for 18 yards – but one of those went for a 9-yard touchdown – against Washington.
“We are excited, but we have more work to do,” Hunt said. “We can’t be satisfied here. We have got to keep going out there and winning. Winning, 1-0 every time. We have to keep getting better and keep working and go out there and hopefully be 3-1 next week. We are only 2-1 right now. Still a lot of football to play.”