Foreign concept for Cleveland Browns fans: Winning

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 11: Rashard Higgins #81 of the Cleveland Browns scores a touchdown in the first half against the Atlanta Falcons at FirstEnergy Stadium on November 11, 2018 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 11: Rashard Higgins #81 of the Cleveland Browns scores a touchdown in the first half against the Atlanta Falcons at FirstEnergy Stadium on November 11, 2018 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) /

The Cleveland Browns have been struggling for so long that wins like the one they just had in Week 10 feel like a foreign concept to their fans

The Cleveland Browns played almost perfectly against the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday, but as a fan, my game kept coming up short.

Let me explain.

Unlike in most Browns games since 1999, against Atlanta last weekend almost every critical moment of play seemed to go the Browns way. Just one positive right after another – on offense, defense, even special teams, it was endless. It was glorious.

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And right before every one of those significant football moments, right before the play could go one way or the other, I caught myself doing what I’ve been subconsciously trained to do as a longtime Browns fan: prepare for a huge disappointment each time. Anticipate one more crushing emotional letdown. Expect yet another example of how the team I love so dearly plays losing football.

“Oh boy,” I’d shake my head before each one of those decisive moments, “here we go again.”

But the letdowns didn’t happen against Atlanta.

No, quite the opposite did, actually.

The Dorsey/Williams/Kitchens/Baker Browns did things in that game that my entire Browns-fan-psyche had no idea how to process.

Winning things, like catching critical passes instead of dropping them.

Like calling plays that utilized the skills of all the players on the team instead of calling a screen pass on third and seventeen.

Like playing perfect first-half football and setting records and making goal-line stands instead of…not.

The D/W/K/B Browns even did basic things I hadn’t seen my Brownies do since forever, like score in the first quarter, like recover their own fumbles, like penetrate the red zone with touchdowns instead of field goals or turnovers, like not holding or not blocking in the back instead of forfeiting all those gained yards for lazy penalties.

And every time something good would happen instead of something bad in this Falcons game, I felt myself becoming totally confused by the desirable outcome, like an abused puppy getting treats and hugs. Like Charlie Brown if Lucy actually held the ball and he kicked it for three.

The Browns winning felt odd. Foreign. Shocking.

That’s when it dawned on me – I’m going to have to learn how to win, too.

As a Browns fan, I’m so used to losing and seeing the glass half empty that it’s going to be a major adjustment for me to get used to watching a winner.

I’ll have to learn how to think and behave differently, how to anticipate positive outcomes instead of always expecting the worst.

For instance, just after Nick Chubb’s incredible 92-yard record-breaking touchdown run, my first thought ought to be, “How amazing for him, for us,” and not, “Watch, holding penalty, they’ll bring it back.”

Or when the Browns defense is backed up against their own goal line and it’s fourth down and inches, my first thought should be, “They’ll stop ‘em,” and not, “Here comes six.”

Or when it’s the fourth quarter and the Browns are ahead in the score, my first thought should be, “We got this,” and not, “Just wait, they’ll blow it, they always do.”

Listen to what every one of the 2018 D/W/K/B Browns players and coaches has to say about Browns fans and it’s a hundred percent positive and eternally grateful.

We’ve earned that, but now it’s time for us to evolve along with them.

The Browns five-year turnaround plan is working and this team and staff are the best it’s been since the eighties. This squad of young ballers led by Baker Mayfield, Nick Chubb, Myles Garrett, Denzel Ward, David Njoku and Jarvis Landry (among many others) is changing the culture of Cleveland from lovable losers to dangerous winners. As modern Browns fans, we’ve got to do the same.

As the Browns begin to win, Browns fans used to the worst possible outcome need to start anticipating completions and third-down conversions with the confidence of a Rams fan.

And to start anticipating success with trick plays and the next-man-up with the confidence of an Eagles fan.

And to start anticipating touchdowns and winning and come-from-behinds like a Patriots fan.

Studs and duds from victory over Atlanta. dark. Next

Just don’t let it all get to your head and cause you to be a fool like a Steelers fan.

The D/W/K/B Browns are leveling up, and for the love of Dorsey, it’s time for their fans to do the same.