I am walking into one of my favorite food establishments Monday night and immediately got asked, “is your column going to be about the Browns this week?”
“Don’t I write enough about the Browns?” I countered.
“Well, that game was unbelievable,” he remarked.
And this was coming from a guy who lists the Discovery and History networks as his favorite TV channels, with ESPN nowhere on his favorites list.
I admit that I gave the Browns no chance of competing, let alone, winning in New England on Sunday versus the Patriots.
Yet there I was in front of my big screen that afternoon watching the game.
The Browns/Pats game has more meaning for me because I have a sister that now lives just outside of Foxborough, Mass.
She used to be a Cleveland sports fan, having grown up in Ohio, but she has transplanted herself to root for the Patriots, Red Sox, even the Celtics.
Now she gets to root for winning teams - ones that have won championships and multiple ones at that.
Cleveland pro sports fans haven’t had that opportunity since 1964.
Right before the game starts Sunday, I get a picture text of my nephew’s best friend’s seats at Gillette Stadium.
“He’s going to rub this game in my face, and I barely know him,” I told my wife.
The Browns open by driving right down the field and get a field goal to get on the board first.
They lead six-nothing at the half.
Am I dreaming?
Don’t wake me up, please.
The Browns continue to play well in the second half.
They are up 19-3, but I know there is still plenty of time left for Tom Brady to rally his team, like he has done so many times before.
It becomes 19-14 and the Browns have the ball in the fourth quarter. Normally this is where the Browns play the game not to lose, as opposed to trying to win the game.
What have you got to lose? You were nearly a two touchdown underdog on the road.
You are not supposed to even be in the game, and you have the lead late against one of the best teams in the NFL?
Then the Browns shocked me.
They played to win the game.
They didn’t try to run the football and run down the clock. How about using some trickery and running an end around play? Play action passing, too.
They drove right down the field and scored a touchdown to go up two scores with very little time remaining.
I immediately texted fellow Browns’ fans at 4:19pm. “The Browns played to win the game on that drive - not play not to lose it.” (I know there is a double negative there, but that is what I texted)
One minute later, one of the texts replied, “ain’t over yet.”
He was right.
I should have known better.
How the Browns lost after that incredible drive has been debated from the end of the game since.
Prevent defense, questionable officiating calls, and there were several horrible calls that went against the Browns.
But look, if you recover the onside kick, none of those things matter.
And you know the onside kick is coming.
Interesting that the last time the Patriots had successfully recovered an onside kick was nearly 20 years - and oh by the by - it was against the Browns.
When Billy Cundiff’s 58-yard field goal attempt fell a few yards in front of the middle of the goalposts, I could only yell obscenities at the TV screen.
I got a text following the unbelievable ending, “God really does hate Cleveland.”
The only text I got from my Massachusetts sister was, “oh boy” which was during the Patriots final drive.
I got nothing from my nephew’s best friend who was at the game.
And nothing from the biggest Boston sports fan I know in Lima, Brad Kelley.
Wouldn’t you know it - my phone died next, and I decided not to take it with me to my wife’s church dinner.
I returned home and had messages asking if they should call 9-1-1, since I wasn’t responding to any texts or calls following the stunning loss.
They were worried about me.
I proceeded to let everyone know that my phone had died, and I was fine - eventually.
Just a typical Sunday during the NFL season for Vince Koza.
Here’s hoping for an “ugh” free 2014!
You can comment to Vince Koza at firstname.lastname@example.org