Something shocking has happened to the Browns ,
those bumbling, fumbling, quarterback-searching, coach-firing, draft-busting
losers.They've disappeared. Maybe gone for good."This is a new team," said
center JC Tretter. "We had goals we came into the season with, and we're
starting to show what we're capable of. Obviously, it's been a rough couple
seasons for the Browns, but this team is a totally different team."Totally.With
an impressive 35-20 victory at Cincinnati on Sunday, the Browns (4-6-1) not only
ended their 25-game road losing streak 鈥?one shy of the NFL record, but they
posted consecutive wins for the first time since 2014. Cleveland also broke a
seven-game skid against the Bengals, exacted some revenge on former coach Hue
Jackson for rejoining a division rival, and pushed itself into the AFC playoff
conversation, albeit as a long shot.As November fades, the Browns feel they're
getting stronger."Being in the hunt in December is all you can really ask for
when you start the season," linebacker Joe Schobert said Monday. "Just to have
meaningful games is big for the morale in the whole building, and as well as the
fans and fan base that has been kind of starving for wins the last couple of
years."To be able to put ourselves in position for that is just a sign of a step
forward as this organization."The surge didn't seem possible a few weeks ago
after Jackson and offensive coordinator Todd Haley were fired following an Oct.
28 loss in Pittsburgh. The same ol' Browns were still sinking.But under interim
coach Gregg Williams, and with running backs coach Freddie Kitchens calling
plays better suited for Mayfield's strengths, the Browns have turned around
their season. They're 2-1 since Williams took over and there has been a
noticeable change in the team's temperament. Penalties are down, the Browns are
playing with a crispness and purpose, and they're backing up big talk with
bigger actions.Tretter, who has played the past month despite a severely
sprained ankle, said Williams' influence has been dramatic and
decisive."Discipline has been great," he said. "It is something that we
desperately needed. He has really reined everybody in and gotten everybody
focused on one single goal. His leadership has been very strong. He fires up the
team. He has that personality. Everybody knows that. He has just done a great
job of really rallying the troops to one cause. You see that on Sundays."Tretter
said Williams has placed a premium on attention to detail. He's holding players
accountable for their mistakes and giving everyone clear expectations."They're
spelled out for you, there's no confusion about what's going on," Tretter said.
"Every meeting hits on the same points over and over again, where there's really
no gray area of what's expected of each player on this team. That has really
helped us take that next step."Obviously you always worry about that with a
midseason transition, but Gregg's done a great job of rallying the troops and
getting everybody on the same page."Williams will interview for Cleveland's
full-time job when the season ends, and while his resume gets a boost every time
the Browns play well, his chances of being hired seem remote.However, as long as
the Browns keep winning and Mayfield continues progressing, Williams' stock will
rise.The 60-year-old's powerful personality has also rubbed off on his players,
who didn't miss a chance Sunday to get in their shots at Jackson, whether it was
safety Damarious Randall handing the former coach the ball after an
interception ,
or Mayfield giving him a cold shoulder following Cleveland's win.Williams said
he's just being himself, and downplayed his impact as a disciplinarian."I do not
want to overblow it at all 鈥?I say what I mean and I mean what I say," Williams
said. "It is about being on time, doing things the right way, not doing things
halfway and doing things all of the way. Ability alone does not win at this
level. You have to go above and beyond."Williams had been reluctant to mention
any playoff possibilities, but last week used the postseason prize as a
motivator to reinforce a bigger message: The Browns can make this season
special."You are starting to see a team that everybody in this building knew was
here," Tretter said. "We do understand that if we do take it one game at a time
and everything goes our way, there is an opportunity to keep playing football
games into January and into February, but that is something that we can't look
too far ahead on right now."NOTES: Williams reported no major injuries from
Sunday's win. ... Williams said he "can't keep up with my texts and my
voicemails" from friends and colleagues around the league who are impressed with
the Browns. "It is not going unnoticed," he said. The final score of this game
turned out to be pretty much how everyone expected, with Kansas City winning
37-21 over Cleveland. The Browns are now 2-5-1 and couldn’t pull off enough
magic in their first game without former head coach Hue Jackson. All of the
defensive injuries didn’t help, as the club lose CB E.J. Gaines, CB Denzel Ward,
and LB Christian Kirksey early on — in addition to already being without FS
Damarious Randall and LB Joe Schobert.The Browns got the ball first and were
able to get past midfield after a 4th-and-1 conversion in which RB Nick Chubb
received a favorable spot. Trying to move the ball further, though, WR Damion
Ratley dropped a third down screen pass. Cleveland pinned the Chiefs back inside
the 5 yard line with their punt, but it didn’t matter. QB Pat Mahomes led the
Chiefs on a 95-yard drive in less than three minutes, capping the drive with a
50-yard screen pass to RB Kareem Hunt to go up 7-0.Cleveland moved the ball
better on their next drive, but the officials missed a pass interference call in
the end zone that was blatant. Then, on a 3rd-and-7, TE David Njoku completely
ignored a blocking assignment to allow a free rusher to sack QB Baker Mayfield.
Fortunately, K Greg Joseph was still able to connect from 51 yards out to make
it a 7-3 game.The Browns saw both of their starting cornerbacks, Denzel Ward and
E.J. Gaines, go to the locker room to begin the next drive. On the final play of
the first quarter, the Chiefs faced a 3rd-and-19 from midfield. For the second
time in the game, Cleveland failed to defend the screen pass, allowing RB
Spencer Ware to go 25 yards on the catch-and-run for a first down. At the start
of the second quarter, Mahomes fired an 11-yard touchdown pass to TE Travis
Kelce to make it a 14-3 game.Cleveland answered with a lot of runs by RB Nick
Chubb and then a 23-yard wheel route on 4th-and-2 by RB Duke Johnson. In
goal-to-go, Chubb punched it in from 3 yards out to make it a 14-9 game. Interim
head coach Gregg Williams opted to go for two, but Mayfield’s pass was
intercepted, keeping it a five-point game.Kansas City was not phased. They
scored a touchdown on their third consecutive drive to start the game, which
included converting their second third-down attempt of the afternoon with the
option. Hunt rammed it in from 1 yard out to put the Chiefs up 21-9 with 2:24
left in the first half.Cleveland responded again, with the help of another
fourth down conversion (the Chiefs jumped offsides). The utilization of Johnson
as a receiver continued, as he broke a tackle for a 19-yard touchdown with 0:26
left to make it 21-15. The two-point try failed again.The Browns’ defense forced
a lot more third down situations to start the second half Womens
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, but Mahomes kept converting each of them.
In the red zone, he fired a perfect pass over the middle to Kelce for a 13-yard
touchdown, despite SS Jabrill Peppers being right there for the perfect
coverage, to put the Chiefs up 28-15.Things quickly went south. The Browns
couldn’t convert, leading to their first punt attempt of the game. P Britton
Colquitt had his punt blocked, allowing Kansas City to take over at the 21 yard
line. The Chiefs quickly punched it in with a 10-yard run by Hunt to go up 34-15
(the kicker missed the extra point).Cleveland was putting a drive together, but
then Mayfield was dropped for a loss of 13 yards when DE Chris Jones came
unblocked for a sack. Faced with a 3rd-and-goal from the 23, QB Tyrod Taylor
checked in as Mayfield was evaluated in the medical tent. The screen pass to
Njoku went for 11 yards, but an unsportsmanlike penalty on the Chiefs gave the
Browns a 1st-and-goal at the 6 yard line. Two carries to Chubb went for a total
of 1 yard, setting up 3rd-and-goal from the 5 to begin the fourth
quarter.Mayfield returned and fired a quick slant to Johnson for a touchdown to
make it a 34-21 game. Cleveland went for two again, but was sacked, making the
team 0-of-3 on those attempts.Cleveland held the Chiefs to a 39-yard field goal
attempt on their next drive, which K Harrison Butker connected on to make it a
37-21 game. The Browns faced another 4th-and-2 situation at midfield on their
next drive, but this time, they were unable to convert, turning the ball over on
downs to the Chiefs with 7:47 to go in the game. Cleveland forced a punt after a
sack by DE Myles Garrett, getting the ball back with 5:20 to go, still down by
16 points.Mayfield started the next drive with 14- and 31-yard passes to Njoku
and WR Antonio Callaway, respectively, to put the Browns in scoring range. On
the next play, though, he rolled left and tried to throw across his body,
leading to an interception. The game was pretty much over after that.Quick
HittersQB Baker Mayfield: 29-of-42 for 297 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT.RB Nick Chubb: 22
carries for 85 yards (3.86 YPC), 1 TD. 1 catch, 5 yards (1 target). RB Duke
Johnson: 9 catches, 78 yards (9 targets), 2 TD. 1 carry, 8 yards (8.0 YPC).WR
Jarvis Landry: 6 catches, 50 yards (7 targets).DE Myles Garrett: 1
sack. Custom New England
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