NEW YORK, N.Y. (FNN SPORTS) – Monday night’s bittersweet Cleveland Browns 23-3 win against the New York Jets triggered feelings of deja vu.
In 2018, the Cleveland Browns started the season 0-2. In week 3 of the regular season, the New York Jets came to town to face the Browns in a prime time Thursday Night Football game. For the better half of two quarters the Browns looked flat, and as if they would be heading to their third straight loss of the season. Browns quarterback Tyrod Taylor was injured right before halftime. The time had come, and Browns first round draft pick Baker Mayfield entered the game. The stadium erupted, pumping the crowd, city, and viewers across the nation full of energy. It was like a shot of electricity into the players’ arms, and hope for Browns faithful that this would be the start of something new; an answer to the unsolved question that had eluded this franchise since its return in 1999. Could this be the quarterback of the future?
It had been so long since the Browns won a game, Budweiser marketed a campaign placing locked ice chests throughout Cleveland. The marketing was simple: win, and the ice chests open; lose, and they stayed locked. 635 days is a long time to go without anything. To be exact, 19 football games passed since the Browns’ last win. On that night, however, Mayfield and company came from behind to beat the Jets 21-17. It was an exciting game, and set in motion a very memorable season for the coaches, team, and Cleveland fans. The same energy delivered in that game continued into the season, and rolled right into First Energy Stadium last week for the opener, where fans from all over witnessed that same energy get shut down by the Tennessee Titans, leaving them, sportscasters, and analysts all over the NFL with more questions about this team heading into week two than anything.
Monday night, the Cleveland Browns would once again face the New York Jets, only this time it would not be at home. Tom Siemian led the Jets against Mayfield and the Browns in what felt like a must-win game for both teams.
So what exactly happened in prime time on Monday night? For starters, the Browns committed nine less penalties than they did in a record-setting week one totaling only nine for 85 yards. Baker Mayfield threw for almost 100 yards more, reaching 325 on 19 connections with one touchdown and only one interception this week. Nick Chubb combined for 96 yards rushing and receiving and had a nice 19-yard touchdown run. Odell Beckham Jr III caught six passes for 161 yards and a touchdown as well. The defense held the Jets to just under 100 yards rushing, and only allowed 169 yards passing through the air. The Browns also stopped the Jets 12-14 times on third down conversions. Myles Garrett continued his campaign for sack leader in the NFL with three more and five tackles in the game, putting him at a total of 5.5 sacks for the season.
Even with all that progress and what appeared to be a nice win for the Browns, something was still missing. Maybe it was the fact that most of the night Mayfield looked confused? Maybe it was because Mayfield was missing passes to receivers who were wide open? Maybe it was because of inconstant line play, or maybe it was the fact that everything is being overshadowed by the hype of a team who has yet to play three games together?
To quote Mayfield himself, “a win is a win,” and boy is he right, because about a year ago this team would have been 0-3. And the Browns have some serious preparation to do for next week as they now look ahead to another prime time game, this time against defending NFC champion Los Angeles Rams as they come to town to take whatever energy the city and this team has left to give.
Antonio Campana is a Florida National News sports contributor based in Ohio. | firstname.lastname@example.org