The Cleveland Browns finally found a way to win, taking down the San Diego Chargers and avoiding an 0-16 season once and for all.
They said it couldn’t be done.
They said the Cleveland Browns were the worst team in the history of the NFL.
Well, for one day at least, the Browns proved them all wrong.
Cleveland delivered Browns fans everywhere an early Christmas present by defeating the San Diego Chargers by a score of 20-17 for the Browns first win of the 2016 NFL season.
Whether or not this turns into a win that the Browns will regret may not be known until the weekend of the 2017 NFL Draft, but for one day at least it was fun to be a Browns fan.
These are still the Browns, however, so the win did not come easily as the Browns needed a combination of big plays and luck to save the day.
“Today was a good day for the Browns.” – Head coach Hue Jackson
After Robert Griffin III exited the game in the fourth quarter following his seventh sack of the day, Cody Kessler led consecutive that ended in punts, allowing the Chargers two attempts to either win or tie the game.
The defense did its job, though, and forced the Chargers into a pair of field goal attempts on their final two drives of the game.
On the first attempt, Jamie Meder blocked Josh Lambo’s 32-yard attempt to preserve the three-point lead. On the second, Lambo’s rushed 45-yard kick as time was running out was wide right, sending the Browns and the fans in attendance into a joyous revelry that may last until the new year.
The Browns defense did a nice job against Philip Rivers and the Chargers offense for the most part on the day. While they were not able to sack Rivers they got good pressure on him, picked him off once, held San Diego to just five-of-15 on third down, and just 35 rushing yards.
That helped make up for a Cleveland offense that got two rushing touchdowns from Isaiah Crowell and not much else as the Browns only scored three points in the second half and punted on their last five drives of the game.
Griffin finished with just 164 passing yards and those seven sacks, while Kessler was two-of-three for 11 yards and took two sacks of his own in relief. It has been evident for a while now, but the Chargers really put an emphasis on the reality that the days of Griffin being able to outrun defenders is a distant memory.
Kessler and Griffin did combine to complete passes to seven different receivers, which is nice, with Gary Barnidge (remember him?) leading the way with five receptions for 42 yards.
Ultimately it is only one win in a season that was never about the final record. Whether or not the short-term euphoria turns into long-term regret is still to be determined.
But for one day, the morning after a Browns game will be filled with good cheer.
And while we’re not sure, we could have sworn we heard head coach Hue Jackson exclaim as he ran out of sight after the game:
“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!”