While it wasn't perfectly wrapped with a bow and placed under the Christmas tree, the Cleveland Browns were able to open the gift of victory by beating the Chicago Bears 20-17 in Week 15. The game seemed like it would be too much to overcome, but this team had no quit, and they fought until the very end. Literally.
David Njoku has had his best professional season and that was on full display on Sunday afternoon in downtown Cleveland, Ohio. The Chief finished with a team-high 10 catches for 104 yards and a touchdown. He got a game ball from head coach Kevin Stefanski during the postgame victory speech for his performance.
The game ended when a Justin Fields Hail Mary attempt was pinballed around, in the hands of his wide receiver Darnell Mooney, and then into the arms of Browns' safety D'Anthony Bell. It was a wild sequence that bounced the Browns way to get them to 9-5 on the year. Bell said after the game that they had been watching tape of Hail Mary passes and knew what he had to do, even if luck was on his side.
While Njoku had a fantastic day on the field, he gave us all one of the most memorable quotes regarding the final play. When asked what was going through his mind during that play, he said "Damn near s--- myself, dawg." I think it's safe to assume that we were all experiencing that together.
This team has no quit
The Browns trailed by 10 entering the fourth quarter and all signs pointed to a loss. However, Joe Flacco completed 11-of-13 passes for 212 yards and a touchdown in the final quarter to help propel this team to the ninth victory of the season. This came after he had thrown three interceptions earlier in the game. While he balled out in the fourth quarter, a lot of credit goes to the o-line (which Flacco praised after the game), who continue to be decimated by injuries, yet keep on fighting.
As aforementioned, the offensive line took another big hit today when Joel Bitonio left the game with a back injury. The list of linemen who are on IR or who have missed any time is extensive. This past week, the defense got bit by the injury bug, yet the team didn't care about any of that and played next-man-up football. Myles Garrett acknowledged how peculiar this season has been, but said they've been through it all and are still standing.
Cleveland is now 9-5 and they'll be playing the Houston Texans on the road in Week 16. That game will have major playoff implications for each team. Cleveland is still in the driver's seat when it comes to the postseason but a win over Houston might be enough to ensure they punch their ticket.