Top 5 Browns games in 2023: Beating the best the league has to offer

A successful campaign left Browns fans hungry for more heading into 2024

Cleveland Browns, David Njoku
Cleveland Browns, David Njoku / Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
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For the second time in four years, the Cleveland Browns won 11 games and made the NFL playoffs. It was a dramatic four and a half months that were full of twists and turns, as the Browns became the first team in league history to start five different quarterbacks and still make the postseason. Beyond the QB position, the team was also hit with many injury blows elsewhere on the roster, right from the start of the season, and continuing through the very end.

All-Pro right tackle Jack Conklin saw his season come to an end due to a torn ACL in Week 1 against Cincinnati. The following week against Pittsburgh, a second All-Pro was lost via another torn ACL to running back Nick Chubb. Then, after a great performance in Week 3 against the Titans, franchise QB Deshaun Watson suffered an injury to his shoulder which would keep him out for the next four games.

Other contributors, like safety Rodney McLeod, linebacker Anthony Walker, left tackle Jedrick Wills, and right tackle Dawand Jones, just to name a few, all missed significant time and/or landed on season-ending injured reserve.

Despite a nearly unprecedented amount of adversity, the team rallied late in the season behind an unlikely hero in QB Joe Flacco, who made his first start in week 13 against the Rams and finished with a 4-1 record as a starter. This helped lead to a who's-who of Browns at the NFL Honors Ceremony, which saw four members of the organization (head coach Kevin Stefanski, defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz, defensive end Myles Garrett, and the aforementioned Flacco) bring home hardware.

Though the season ended bitterly with a blowout loss at Houston in the Wild Card round, expectations were certainly surpassed when factoring in the incredible amount of injuries the team sustained. Today, we re-live some of the magic. Here are the top five games of the Cleveland Browns 2023 season.

5. Week 16: Cleveland Browns at Houston Texans, 36-22

Amari Cooper.

That's it. That's all that needs said.

In a game that was decided well earlier than the final score might suggest, Cooper set a new Browns record for receiving yards in a single game, going for 11 catches, 265 yards, and two touchdowns in Joe Flacco's fourth start of the season. On the first play from scrimmage, Flacco found Cooper on a 53-yard bomb off of play action, and the pair never looked back.

The Browns defense also came to play, allowing just 67 yards and forcing two interceptions on 17 pass attempts by starter Case Keenum, who fans remember from his time in Cleveland during the 2020 and 2021 seasons. ZaDarius Smith and Alex Wright combined for three sacks in the contest, and Myles Garrett created nonstop pressure on the other side, never allowing Keenum to get comfortable.

Before a couple of late, garbage-time touchdowns after pulling their starters, the Browns at one point held a 36-7 lead in the fourth quarter. After re-inserting the starters once the lead had shrunk, Cooper and Flacco made their mark in the history books, and the team walked away with a comfortable win and a boost in the playoff race.