EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Under the bright lights and national audience in a empty Met Life Stadium across from the Big Apple, the Cleveland Browns continued their playoff push with a 20-6 win over the New York Giants.
A week after losing a 47-42 instant classic on MNF to the hated Baltimore Ravens, Cleveland traveled east to New Jersey for what was a glorified family reunion, NFL style.
As if the two longtime NFL bluebloods and rivals from the 50’s didn’t already have enough ties between their two storied franchises, that had memorable clashes at both the old Yankee Stadium and Municipal Stadium.
The Browns and Giants have a long history of players and coaches going between the two with names such as head coach Bill Belichick, linebackers Pepper Johnson and Carl Banks.
WR Odell Beckham Jr., OL Kevin Zeitler, DE Oliver Vernon, LB, B.J. Goodson, DB Jabrill Peppers, edge rusher Jabaal Sheard, RB Dion Lewis, former head coach Freddie Kitchens and 2010 third-round pick in QB Colt McCoy added their names that very special list.
In reference to the game itself, Cleveland used a balanced attack and play-action passing in helping secure the franchise’s first ten-win season since 2007, where they missed the playoffs. QB Baker Mayfield continued his strong recent play in going 27-of-32 for 297 yards, two touchdowns, zero interceptions and a passer rating of 126.2.
To their credit, the Giants stout defensive line held the potent one-two punch of RB’s Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt to a combined 71 yards on the ground with Chubb scoring the lone touchdown and third-string running back D’Ernest Johnson adding another 24 yards on four carries and Mayfield scrambling for 11 yards on four rushes.
Wide receiver Rashard Higgins led all Browns wideouts with 76 yards on four catches, Jarvis Landry added 61 yards and one TD on seven catches with TE Austin Hooper catching a TD pass to go along with his five catches and 41 yards receiving.
While their win was without the usual drama and post-game commentary, Cleveland’s game vs. New York was a must-win thanks to Baltimore, Indianapolis, Miami and Tennessee also winning, so the Browns had to keep up their hold on the top wildcard spot in the AFC.
Which they did, in a very business-like manner.
With their next game vs. the one-win New York Jets on the same field, Cleveland has a chance to win 11 games for the first time since ‘94, when they last made the playoffs.
Cleveland. Browns. Playoffs. Those words feel so good to type, let alone speak so loudly, and openly about again for the first time in decades.
Also published on Medium.