Browns Diary, Week 10: The Real Deal
Cleveland 33, Baltimore 31
Had a great night Sunday in Toledo … and on Tuesday night, we wrap up the first leg of the WHY WE LOVE BASEBALL tour in Houston. There may be a few tickets left if you would like to catch me before I go into an all-too-brief hibernation so that I can write my next book, WHY WE LOVE FOOTBALL. I’ll be back on the road again once spring training rolls around.
Before we get to the good stuff, the remarkable stuff, the almost unbelievable stuff … we should probably discuss this headline and subhead that appeared on Cleveland.com after the Browns’ stunning victory over Baltimore yesterday.
Headline: “This is why the Browns paid Deshaun Watson $230M — for a huge victory over the Ravens, gimpy ankle and all.”
And the subhead (in case you didn’t get the point): “Deshaun Watson battled through an ankle injury and played like the $230 million man he is.”
There are not enough “ughs” and “blechs” in the world to cover up the yuck in those headlines. THIS was why the Cleveland Browns traded away all those draft picks and paid all that money for a man credibly charged with sexual misconduct by more than 20 women? This? A good second half against the Ravens in the middle of the regular season? This is what makes him worth it? This is the feel-good finish to this story, the … oh, I’m not even going to say it.
What drives me so bananas about those headlines is … Deshaun Watson really did play well in the second half on Sunday. He was an utter fiasco in the first half, but in the second, he played with guts and verve, he was accurate with some sweet short passes to David Njoku, he scrambled effectively, even while limping on a bad ankle, he connected with that wonder Amari Cooper on some huge plays. He also got lucky as he nearly fumbled the game away, but that’s OK, luck isn’t a bad thing, Tom Brady’s entire breathtaking career was launched by the luck of having a fumble not called a fumble. It was an exhilarating second-half performance by Watson, one worthy of applause …
… and why can’t we just keep it there? What is it about our time, our society, that so readily brings out the “I told you so’s?” at the first possible moment. Can’t we wait just a little bit? Can’t we enjoy a good November victory without shouting from the rooftops, “See? The Browns were right to outbid everybody for the services of a player about to be suspended by the NFL for sexual misconduct! See? He was worth it all along!”
The $230 million man he is …
OK, that out of the way … I can’t remember a Cleveland victory quite like this one in that the Browns did all the usual Browns things. Watson started the game with an immediate pick-six. This terrific defense promptly gave up a big play, a 39-yard run by Keaton Mitchell, and the Browns were down 17-3 before you knew it. After Cleveland somehow pulled within one score by halftime, the defense started the second half by giving up ANOTHER big play, a 40-yard touchdown pass to former Brownie Odell Beckham Jr.
After the Browns AGAIN crawled back to within a score and seemed to have momentum, James Proche just dropped a punt, the Ravens recovered and scored.
And after the Browns AGAIN came back, this time on Greg Newsome’s amazing pick-six on a Lamar Jackson pass that bonked off Ogbonnia Okoronkwo’s helmet, the Browns’ super-reliable kicker, Dustin Hopkins, botched the extra point, and Cleveland still trailed by one.
All of those things were as familiar as the opening chords of “Hey Jude.” The Browns have been throwing early pick-sixes, and giving up back-breaking plays, and dropping punts, and hooking extra points wide for, well, my whole life.
But they don’t then go on and win such games. It just doesn’t happen.
So how the heck did they win this one … especially against a savage Ravens defense on the road?
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