If you know a Cleveland Browns fan, give them a hug. They need it.
Where do you begin with the start to the Browns’ 2018 season? Last week it was a blocked field goal in overtime against the Pittsburgh Steelers that kept the Browns from getting their first win since 2016. They settled for a tie. There wasn’t even a half-win on Sunday.
The Browns found every way possible to lose on Sunday. They blew a 12-3 fourth-quarter lead. In what should have been one of the biggest moments for the Browns in years, a long fourth-down touchdown to Antonio Callaway with 1:16 left to tie the game, kicker Zane Gonzalez somehow missed the extra point wide left. After the Saints predictably marched downfield to take the lead on a field goal, the Browns put together a great drive in the final seconds … and then Gonzalez missed again, badly, with three seconds left. Gonzalez missed two field goals and two extra points.
When Browns fans curse their team and the incredible drought since they’ve last won a game, they’ll save some extra scorn for Gonzalez, who spent the last few seconds of the game on the bench, his head in his hands. Saints kicker Wil Lutz went across the field to console Gonzalez when the game was done.
Browns played well for most of the game
The Browns were in control most of the game. When Gonzalez missed a 44-yard field goal in the fourth quarter, it started to fall apart.
The Saints marched right downfield to score after that Gonzalez miss, cutting the Browns’ lead to 12-10. The Browns punted but then held, and it seemed they had gotten some momentum back. But Tyrod Taylor threw a bad pick to Saints safety Marcus Williams — getting a small bit of redemption for his missed tackle on Stefon Diggs in the playoffs last season — and the Saints cashed in. A second touchdown by Michael Thomas and a two-point conversion by Alvin Kamara gave the Saints an 18-12 lead with 2:40 left.
Still, the Browns fought back. That’s noble, even if it ended in heartbreak.
Browns almost had an epic win
The Browns came so close to an epic win.
For a brief moment, it looked like Taylor delivered a highlight we’d see for a long, long time. On fourth-and-5, the Browns had one last shot to extend the game and Taylor let it fly deep. Callaway settled under it for a 47-yard touchdown. By now, everyone is rooting for the Browns to finally win a game. Why wouldn’t you? And it seemed like they might have it.
And then Gonzalez missed the extra point wide left. Of all the brutal moments for the Browns over their 1-31 stretch the past two seasons, that might have been the worst. Until a couple minutes later, at least.
One final chance sails wide right
When the Saints took the lead with 21 seconds left, that seemed like the end of the game. But the Browns rallied yet again. A pass to Jarvis Landry and another to Callaway set up a potential game-tying 52-yard field goal for Gonzalez.
Before he even kicked it, everyone knew the outcome. This is the Browns, after all.
Gonzalez’s kick failed miserably, sailing wide right immediately off his foot. And still, the last Browns’ win is Dec. 24, 2016. The streak lives.
Last season, most of the Browns’ losses weren’t in doubt. This season, Cleveland seems to want to torture its fans. Sunday was particularly cruel.
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