After beating the New Orleans Saints and New England Patriots in consecutive games, the 3-5 Cleveland Browns gained the respect of their opponents and the fans who have watched them. The "best losing team in the NFL" title seems like damning with faint praise, but going into their game against the New York Jets on Sunday afternoon, it was more meaningful - there wasn't anyone familiar with this Cleveland team that believed another win against a supposedly better team was out of the question.
And the game was as close as the final score indicated - the Jets picked up their second straight overtime win in as many weeks with a 26-20 victory in the Dawg Pound that was decided by this Santonio Holmes(notes) touchdown with just 24 seconds before the game would have ended in a tie.
Yeouch. Great win for the Jets (especially for kicker Nick Folk(notes), who was facing a tough plane ride home after missing three of his five field goal attempts), but the Browns played really well in this game. Rookie quarterback Colt McCoy(notes) showed poise and composure in the face of Rex Ryan's multi-faceted blitzes, running back Peyton Hillis(notes) continued his fine form, and Cleveland's defense played better than expected.
The Browns can take consolation in the fact that their wins and close losses against teams with better records are no fluke - these guys are for real, and they have a lot to build on. That may not help the Browns and their fans get over the sting of this loss, but color us impressed, Cleveland. You're for real.