Facing one of the two remaining undefeated teams in the NFL, the Cleveland Browns found themselves at a disadvantage. They were without Deshaun Watson and Joel Bitonio — while already being without their top player, Nick Chubb, who was lost in Week 2.
So naturally, they're going to be praised for somehow knocking off the undefeated San Francisco 49ers while also handing Brock Purdy his first-ever regular-season loss, right? Well, no. Not exactly.
Not long after the Browns secured the win, it was the 49ers' health being used as an excuse for the loss. Despite coming into the game rather healthy, the Niners did lose Deebo Samuel and Christian McCaffrey during the game.
While their losses were significant, it's hard to say they were at more of a disadvantage than the Browns who were missing even more players. And still found a way to win.
San Francisco lost their best player after he scored a touchdown and gave his team a lead whereas the Browns haven't had theirs since Week 2 — and won't get him back at all in 2023. They were also down to their third option at quarterback with P.J. Walker taking over for Dorian Thompson-Robinson.
The real story here is how well Jim Schwartz and his defense played against the 49ers. They not only made Purdy look human but they made him look like the final pick in the NFL Draft last season.
Injuries aren't supposed to be an excuse. The Browns didn't let them become one, but it sure seems as though it will be an excuse to avoid giving them their due.